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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Clever seating for seven in a relatively small package, and good to drive

Against It needs more safety kit, and the cabin is short of cubbyholes

Verdict Reliable and flexible family transport

Go for… 1.8 Elegance

Avoid… 2.0 Di Comfort

Vauxhall Zafira MPV
  • 1. Make sure that the cambelts have been replaced when they should have been
  • 2. Pay particular attention to the slide latches on the middle bench, which often fail and can leave the seats unsecured
  • 3. Rear seats are best for children, and the boot is small with all seven seats in use
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Vauxhall Zafira MPV full review with expert trade views

Before the Zafira came along, the MPV market wasn't exactly full of bright sparks. Vauxhall's Flex-7 seating really changed things. Each of the rear pair of seats quickly folds away into the floor, while the bench in the middle reclines, slides and tumbles.

The whole system is easy to use, and now much copied by the likes of the latest Toyota Verso. It makes the Zafira's cabin more flexible than rivals of the day such as the Renault Scenic or Citroen Xsara Picasso. We wouldn't recommend sticking a pair of adults in the rear seats for a long journey, however - and if you're expecting to carry seven people and all of their luggage for a week's holiday, you'll also be sorely disappointed.

Still, it's comfortable on the motorways and if you head for those hills and country back roads you'll find it surprisingly good fun to drive as well.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

2.0 diesel has big price premium over petrol - not worth it if you don't do the miles

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The range started out small in 1999, but by 2005 there was a wide range of models available, including a fast 200bhp GSi version.

Thankfully, our favourite engine, the 1.8 petrol, was available from the beginning, so there should be plenty around. Versions from 2000 and later were 10bhp more powerful, but both have a good balance of economy and performance.

Most other engines are fine, but avoid the cheapest diesel or entry-level 1.6 petrol - they're very slow.

Whichever model you pick, it will have a decent amount of equipment, but we'd suggest looking for Elegance models. They'll only be a little more expensive than entry-level cars, but have a CD player, better seat fabric and alloy wheels to the Comfort's air-con, electric windows and remote locking.

Vauxhall's Network Q garages have the best stock, but you could save plenty at a car supermarket.

Trade view

James Ruppert

In demand, although there are plenty of 1.6 Lifes in circulation

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The biggest problem with Zafiras is the need for cambelt changes every 40,000 miles. Each one comes in at around a few hundred quid.

Apart from that, your bank manager would be relatively pleased if he saw a Zafira on your driveway - apart from the GSi Turbos, perhaps, which are in a serious hurry to get to the next petrol station.

Except for the turbo model, fuel economy is good across the range, with our favourite 1.8 petrol returning nearly 33mpg.

If you opt for an engine above the 1.8 mark you'll notice a fair jump up in insurance groups, so work out your budget to make sure you won't be left short.

From 2001 on, service intervals were doubled to 20,000 miles, so a car from that year onwards could help keep your costs down.

Mind you, Vauxhall's Network Q web of approved used garages do good work at reasonable rates, so there's not too much to worry about. However, repair bills can be high if you're unlucky and something does go wrong.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

2.0 diesel has big price premium over petrol - not worth it if you don't do the miles

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

First, inspect the car's service history to make sure that the cambelts have been replaced when they should have been. This doesn't apply to the chain-driven 2.2-litre petrol engines, or the 2.0-litre diesel.

Also, check that the spare wheel is still strapped underneath the car where it should be. It's there to free up space for the clever rear seats, but is all too easily stolen.

Damp carpets could indicate that water is working its way into the cabin through gaps in the bulkhead, but this isn't quite as serious as it sounds. An hour's labour and a bit of sealant will have it fixed.

Try folding all of the seats, but pay particular attention to the slide latches on the middle bench, which often fail and can leave the seats unsecured.

Finally, rear bumpers cost a lot to replace, so check for cracks or bodged DIY repairs with mismatched paint.

Trade view

James Ruppert

In demand, although there are plenty of 1.6 Lifes in circulation

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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