First drive review: Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
Hugely practical, impressively economical, and it drives well too. We expect the refreshed Zafira Tourer to continue to be a popular choice in the MPV market
It’s hard to believe that Vauxhall’s ultimate family car is growing up so fast, now in its teenage years. Born in 1999, the seven-seat MPV is still immensely popular despite strong challenges from the flourishing SUV market, never mind the highly accomplished MPV competition that has improved and expanded over the years.
Arguably, its rivals now manage to perform MPV duties somewhat better than the Zafira, which is perhaps why Vauxhall have chosen now as the time for a major facelift to keep the model fresh.
There are no radical changes here though, Vauxhall is confident that the basics of the Zafira remain strong. What has changed is that the new face is far more reserved than the previous model with its ‘boomerang’ headlight clusters, but it’s a real improvement and it’s actually quite stylish. It’s as if it’s not trying as hard as it used to, perhaps growing more confident with age.
A cleaned up dashboard has radically improved the interior of the Zafira Tourer
There are also changes on the inside too, with the button-heavy dashboard of the previous model cleaned up and polished off with a new touchscreen infotainment system. This gives a cleaner, fresher look to the cabin, and that touchscreen houses Vauxhall’s ‘OnStar’ assistance system. This provides customers with access to an assistant at a call centre who can help you find where you’re going and even send the sat-nav directions direct to your car.
More importantly, the OnStar assistants will be alerted automatically should the car detect that you have been involved in an accident, allowing emergency services to reach you as quickly as possible. Fleet managers with a duty of care to their drivers, take note.
There’s nothing new under the bonnet, but there are a variety of engines on offer. Most cars of this breed are powered by strong-pulling diesel units that offer better performance levels; the low down torque gets the weight moving with ease while offering strong economy figures to keep trips to the pumps at a minimum.
Our test car had the impressive 2.0-litre 168bhp diesel, and it provided a perfectly adequate mixture of performance and economy. It’s capable of getting the Zafira to 62mph in 9.1 seconds, which is plenty quick enough when you’re seven-up, and should aid overtaking when you’re on your own.
Theoretically you can also get around 57mpg, but choosing the automatic gearbox cuts economy significantly to around 46mpg. With this in mind, it may be best to stick to the good old-fashioned six-speed manual option.
Inside there’s space for seven, but like all MPVs the two seats that make up the third row are only suitable for the smallest people in your clan, but if you don’t need to use them you’ll instead find plenty of boot space.
There’s 710-litres of capacity in there to greet you, along with around 30 cubby holes dotted around the cabin, which is enough to fit in most objects you can think of and, thanks to the clever flexible seating arrangement, anything unusually long or wide should be easily accommodated too.
Additional storage is fun, subtle and cleverly integrated
Despite this, the lack of sliding rear doors will certainly put off some buyers but the general levels of versatility could convince people to hand over a lease deposit in exchange for the keys.
It gets better too. In what might be a bit of a shock to some, the Zafira Tourer is actually very good on the road. Of course, comfort is going to be the attribute that gets the most attention here and rightly so, this is an extremely comfortable car on the road.
The impressive boot can hold 710 litres or 1860 litres with the seats down
Driving it on some rather rough A and B roads, we couldn’t find a concrete trench large enough to upset us in the cabin. As a matter of fact, we’d be more than happy to take the Zafira Tourer on a cross-country voyage, and we didn’t think we’d be saying that at the start of the trip.
The surprises kept coming, as we found this heavyweight Vauxhall to be quite handy in corners too. There’s plenty of grip and the Zafira Tourer provides more steering feel than rivals like the Ford S-Max and Citroen Grand Picasso – and thus more confidence for the driver.
The Zafira provides more steering feel than rivals
Don’t expect sports-car handling of course, but it does at least do much better than appearances might suggest. The impressive torque from that 2.0-litre diesel engine helps push it out of the corners too, and all-in-all, it doesn’t really feel like the weight matters all that much which is some achievement in a car of this size.
So, it’s hugely practical, impressively economical, and it drives well too. No wonder the Zafira Tourer is popular. Our Tech Line-spec test car also averaged at £354 per month* which is a reasonable price given the impressive levels of standard equipment on offer.
Model tested: Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Tech Line 2.0 CDTI
|0 – 62mph:||9.1 seconds|
|Official fuel economy:||57.7 mpg|
|C02 emissions:||129 g/km|
|Car tax band:||D / £110 per year|
|Engine:||2.0-litre turbo diesel|
|Luggage Space:||710 litres|
Average lease rate for tested model:
*Personal lease rate: £354
*Business lease rate: £295
*Average monthly lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and based on typical 6 + 35 10k deals. Correct at time of writing.