Vauxhall Zafira

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Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Road Test

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 2.0D driven

Driven December 2011

Additional Info

Vauxhall is fond of the old Zafira. As are UK buyers. So instead of moving it to some retirement garage to rust in a puddle of its own oil, it stays on the market - to be sold alongside this new one, the Zafira Tourer. While the ageing model will drop to about £18k, the slightly larger and posher Tourer will start from £21k.

You'll have noticed already the main difference between the two. Instead of modelling its compact people-mover on a shoebox, design boss Mark Adams has referenced bullet trains, and added angular flanks and boomerang headlights (although a ruder assessor might see them as chubby fangs). The result is possibly the best-looking MPV out there, with a drag coefficient of 0.28. That's as good as the last Porsche 911.

The styling effort is continued inside, with a dashboard layout shared mostly with the Insignia and Astra, so it's all smooth surfaces with swishes of trim and strips of red light to add a sense of boudoir. The middle row has three seats and - if you choose a more expensive trim level with the Lounge Seating option - when the middle one is flattened, two long armrests flip up from its edges like leathery wings. The outer two seats are on kinked runners, so they slide back and inwards by 5cm to give more shoulder room and space to stretch out. There's a proper limo vibe in here, unless you go for the boggo ES trim level, in which case you might as well have bought the older car. 

But hang on. This is a Zafira - the car that invented the idea of a smallish people carrier with seven seats you could arrange like Tetris blocks to fit many permutations of people plus paraphernalia. And it still is. Convert that middle row back to practical plan, and the centre seat becomes, well, a seat (a big improvement over the fixed bench of the old-but-not-dead model). The outer two lift upwards and forwards, giving access to two rearmost seats that flip up from the boot floor. Space back there is bearable (it's bigger than the older version), and you could probably drive a pair of teens for an hour or so without them risking a thrombosis.

Vauxhall makes vague statements about exciting driving dynamics, and you can choose adaptive dampers with a Sport setting, should you care to fling it around. Don't bother. The standard set-up on 17s does a surprisingly impressive job of softening the road surface, which befits the Tourer's limo-like ambitions.

Problems? The most powerful 2.0-litre, 163bhp diesel is a bit on the languid side, and we'll have to wait a while for the super-clean ecoFlex version, which will be even slower. And although the upmarket lounge idea is well executed, rivals like the Renault Grand Scenic and Mazda5 have more family-friendly gimmicks, like pop-up kiddie seats and sliding rear doors and a hundred wipe-down cubbyholes. Which is what buyers of a compact MPV are really after.

Dan Read

We like: It looks good and is extremely comfy
We don't like: Is that the goal of a compact SUV?
The verdict: A desirable Zafira? Who'd have thought. It's lovely, but rivals are family-friendlier.
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.1secs, max 129mph, 54.3mpg
Tech: 1956cc, 4cyl, FWD, 163bhp, 280lb ft, 1571kg, 137g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Panoramic 'screen, part of Elite trim
And avoid this: ES trim - it's not posh enough

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7/10 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Elite driven
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