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Vauxhall Zafira Overall verdict
The Vauxhall Zafira has become the UK’s default family car, thanks to the flexible seating options, and, crucially, the ease of swapping between them. It’s not too grim to drive either.
People with too many kids keep telling me what a useful car this is. Whatever. Anyone seen the keys to my Panda?
What is it?
The new Zafira Tourer hasn't killed the old Zafira. Rather, it's been reconfigured as an entry-level people carrier (although prices still look optimistic to us). It's dated but still as practical as ever: the Flex7 seats have been much-copied, but with good reason.
Like any high car, the Zafira doesn't handle as fluently as the hatch on which it's based. It can be hustled through a string of bends at an impressive lick, but you don't get much sensation and the driving position is hardly racy.
The 1.6s are slugs. The 1.9 diesels go well, and the bigger petrols are sweet-natured and hard-working. At the other end of the scale, the VXR is far faster than sanity requires, but it's a good overtaker and, if you don't have kids getting sick in the back, surprisingly handy in turns.
On the inside
Five people can be comfy in a Zafira but the last two seats are occasional or just for kids. The ride is fairly supple and the engines quiet, so there shouldn't be complaints whether it's the school run or a long trip.
The second row of seats slides and folds, and the third-row pair individually slot into the floor. If you don't have more than two in the car, you've got a van-like flat-floored cargo hold. All useful stuff, but of course you can't carry seven people and luggage. Which is why it probably doesn't matter the final two are only occasional seats.
Everything is solidly bolted to a Zafira, which is just as well given the attack it will come under from tiny hands.
This is another reason the Zafira is seen everywhere. Its low servicing and insurance costs make it a fleet favourite.