The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 1.6 CDTi Ecoflex is the first car to get the company’s latest diesel engine. It's the first stage of Vauxhall’s three-year plan to launch 13 new engines and 23 new models.
The new engine returns an official average of 68.9mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2. That’s 6.1mpg better (and 10g/km CO2 less) than the 2.0-litre diesel Zafira Tourer, which will remain on sale alongside the new 1.6 for the time being.
Vauxhall will tune the new 1.6 CDTi engine to various power outputs for future models, and in its most efficient forms it should deliver CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km.
What’s the 2013 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 1.6 CDTi Ecoflex like to drive?
The new 1.6 diesel Zafira Tourer is a big improvement over the 2.0-litre model. Power is delivered more smoothly and there’s hardly any of the clatter that you might expect from under the bonnet.
The new engine also has more power and torque than the 2.0 in the old Ecoflex model, and although it’s officially slightly slower from 0-62mph (we’re baffled by this one, too), it’s still flexible enough to move this seven-seat car along briskly.
In other respects, the new model feels like any other Zafira Tourer, but that's no bad thing because it means it feels impressively agile for a big MPV, with quick, well weighted steering and minimal body lean in corners.
Don't go thinking that you pay for this composure with a harsh ride, either. The Zafira Tourer's body is beautifully controlled over high-speed undulations, and while there is some patter on poorly surfaced urban roads, it's a minor irritation.
The one frustrating part of the driving experience is the six-speed manual gearbox. Vauxhall says it has revised the internal mechanisms to allow smoother changes, but the throw is still rather long.
A six-speed automatic transmission will also be available with the new engine, but we’ve yet to try this.
What’s the 2013 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 1.6 CDTi Ecoflex like inside?
Just like existing Zafira Tourer models, the new 1.6 CDTi gets a flexible seating setup as standard. The third row of seats folds flat into the boot floor when not required, and the second row consists of three individual seats that can be slid, reclined or folded flat independently of one another.
When all five rear seats are folded, the Zafira Tourer has a flat cargo bay and the sort of capacity that lets it do a decent impression of a removal van. Even with only the third row of seats collapsed, the boot is bigger than most rivals'.
Third-row passenger space is also impressive, although these seats are mounted quite close to the floor, so their occupants won't be as comfortable as they would be in a Seat Alhambra.
The quality of the materials and switchgear across the cabin is acceptable by class standards, although as with other Vauxhalls, the controls aren’t always intuitively positioned, and there are a few too many buttons on the centre console.
That said, there’s plenty of seat and steering adjustment for the driver, so anyone should be able to get comfortable behind the wheel.
Forward visibility is good, thanks to thin windscreen pillars and neat quarter-light windows over the front wheelarches, while rear visibility is also decent.
Standard equipment across the Zafira Tourer range is fairly generous, with the Tech Line model our pick.
Should I buy one?
The new Zafira Tourer 1.6 CDTi is a tempting proposition for company car drivers, because its sub-110g/km CO2 emissions qualify it for a lower company car tax band than most other seven-seat MPVs.
True, an entry-level Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi will cost you about the same in company car tax because it has a much lower list price, but this is a smaller and less practical car.
The Zafira Tourer also has plenty of appeal as a private buy. It's well priced and holds its value pretty well, plus running costs and PCP deals are extremely competitive.
If you regularly use all seven seats and can afford the Seat Alhambra's higher price and running costs it's still the better MPV, but the much cheaper Zafira Tourer will be practical enough for most family's needs.
What Car? says…