Volvo’s LA Motor Show stand will instead show off connectivity stuff instead
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What wild and crazy fantasy-car is this? Don’t be ridiculous. People-carriers are the most rational (but not boring) cars of all. They aim to shift your loved ones in the most congenial possible environment. And to make space for the most outlandishly shaped cargo. The Vauxhall Zafira has always been at the forefront, and this is the newest version. What’s new? A gentle mid-life tickle, is all. Te front end is smoothed off to identify as one of the Vauxhall family. Those strange ‘boomerang’ sideburns have gone now. The result is less distinctive, unfortunately. Inside, there’s a more attractive, fluid-looking dash, with better connections to the outside world. Connections? Yup, all versions have OnStar. That gives a built-in wi-fi hotspot, so all your passengers can get their devices online. They’ll never need talk to one other again. Until their batteries run out… Good point. More modern people carriers and seven-seat crossovers tend to have lots of rear-cabin power points or USB sockets. The Zafira doesn’t. There’s a shortage, too, of rear-seat reading lights, air vents, cupholders and storage cubbies. How modern are the dynamics? They’re unchanged from before. That means some way off a Galaxy or S-Max or the new Touran. The 2.0 diesel engine makes a racket, and performance isn’t too sparkling. The steering is sensibly set-up with good self-centring for the motorway cruise, but good progression off-lock. Unfortunately, the Zafira is a big, underdamped barge when you throw it about. Even if you drive in a more seemly manner, that lack of damping control might have passengers feeling queasy if the roads aren’t smooth. Do those passengers have enough space? Second row is fine. Each seat slides and reclines too. But the back row is strictly kids only. That’s no different to rivals though? Strangely, Vauxhall isn’t sure what the rivals are. It’s a bit bigger than the Renault Grand Scenic or C4 Picasso, but definitely more cramped than a Galaxy. You’re just going to have to take your passengers along to the dealer and see if they’re small enough to fit. What about the multi-purpose bit? Each of the rear five seats folds individually and makes a flat floor, and when they’re all gone you’ll have a chasm that’ll shame most estates. Probably swallow most estates whole.