Road test: Volkswagen Touran
When Kirsten Donnelly was born by caesarean section at 38 weeks, everything seemed normal and nobody had any clue that she was different in any way. At 8 weeks she started having seizures, but no medical reason could be found. Her mom, Jody, had a feeling that something wasn’t right because Kirsten was a quiet and easy baby but lacking interaction and spontaneity. Thirteen years later, she still lacks interaction and just never developed the way that other kids do. She never crawled, never walked, does not communicate and is totally dependent on her parents and helpers, but no medical reason for her lack of development could ever be found. Being unable to initiate any mobility she is dependent on an attendant propelled wheelchair and she has to be lifted into and out of the vehicle when she is transported. Fortunately she is still fairly light and her parents are able to lift her, but her mom had started to find it difficult lifting her through a narrow door space and position her inside the car in the Ricaro car seat that they were using.
The daily challenge of getting Kirsten in and out of the vehicle to get her to and from Lusito School, started Jody and Albert hunting in earnest for a new vehicle which had enough space for loading the wheelchair in the back, and had wide opening doors that gave easy access when loading Kirsten. Jody didn’t want to drive a large van around town in the traffic congestion that she has to deal with every day and she hunted for a smallish vehicle with side sliding doors that was available in automatic. But the options were limited and they did not like what they found. Then they started looking beyond just the sliding door vehicles, and hunted for vehicles with wide opening doors and a large boot space. That was when they came across the VW Touran.
The first thing that they checked was that the wheelchair fitted in the boot. It has a particularly deep boot at 103 cm from the door to the rear seats and 104 cm wide. At 88cm it was just high enough to fit the wheelchair without having to dismantle it.
The rear door space was a bit limited and the loading was still a challenge, until they discovered the Turny seat from AutoAdapt. Jody finds the Turny seat a dream – it is so much easier to pick Kirsten up out of her wheelchair and position her on the seat, which is outside of the vehicle, and then at the press of a button, she is slowly moved into the vehicle. No more twisting and carrying a heavy weight, through a confined doorway. As she grows heavier there is also the option of fitting the Carony wheelchair which lifts the seat of the wheelchair along with the occupant into the car, thus completely eliminating the need to lift Kirsten. Kirsten has high levels of spasticity which result in her falling to one side in the car. To prevent this she was always tightly strapped into her car seat. With the Turny seat, two trunk supports were fitted on each side of the seat, which keep her firmly upright and which have completely eliminated the need for any additional strapping, thus making her far more comfortable in the car.
Their main reasons for choosing the Touran were the measurements, however, Jody has been pleasantly surprised by the performance and features of the car. The first thing she noticed is how beautifully smooth the six speed DSG gearbox is. It feels like one smooth ride and she is not even aware that the car is changing gears. The 2.0l Turbo Diesel engine has plenty of life while nipping around Johannesburg’s highways and Jody normally gets between 850 – 900 km on a 60l fuel tank (+- 15km/l) driving on congested city roads and highways. She loves the adjustments on the driver’s seat and finds the driving position extremely comfortable. It has Bluetooth controls and radio controls on the steering wheel for super convenience.
She ordered leather seats as an optional extra due to Kirsten’s’ incontinence and these give the car an extra luxury feel. There are lots of cleverly designed storage compartments with a large cooled and lockable cubby and conveniently positioned cup holders – perfect for bottles. The Electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering ensures that the steering is finger light while manoeuvring at low speeds but keeps a firm contact with the road surface at high speeds. All these features make it easier for any mother needing to transport kids around town. It also happens to be a great choice for drivers with disabilities as in the MPV range has one of the lower driver seat heights, ranging from 65 – 70 cm from the ground, which is only about 10 -15cm higher than most wheelchair seats. It is available in automatic and comes standard with a cruise control – useful for drivers using hand controls.
As with most Volkswagens, the Touran is packed with safety features, particularly focussed on the braking system and airbags. Anti-lock Braking System , Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Stability Programme , Anti-Spin Regulation, Electronic Differential Lock, Engine Drag Torque Control, Brake Assist, Hill-hold control, driver and front passenger airbags, curtain airbag for front and second row occupant and front side airbags all work together to reduce the possibility of driver error and assist with keeping the occupants safe. The positioning of the Turny seat allows the passenger seat to be positioned at a safe distance from the passenger airbag. Any mother who is transporting young children around will know how easy it is to be distracted by their kids, and thus will appreciate the extra safety features and ease of driving provided by the Touran.
The current starting price on the Touran 2.0 DTI Trendline DSG is R332 800. The rebate discount amount on the Touran is approximately R50 000. When purchasing a Volkswagen, customers can expect to pay the full amount and once the SARS clearance inspection is done and the paperwork has been sent to VWSA, the dealer will be refunded and then in turn the client will be refunded by the dealership.
So after many hours or researching and looking for the ideal car, Jody is delighted with the solution that they found in the Touran along with the Turny seat. The Touran is a safe, reliable and spacious ‘Mommy’s car’ that is great for any mother needing to do school lifts and fit in lots of kids and school bags – it also has the option of 2 additional seats at the back making it a 7 seater – but it is also well designed for mothers needing to transport a child with a wheelchair or pram, that needs lots of boot space and wide opening doors.