What's the used Vauxhall Zafira like?
The original Vauxhall Zafira MPV wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it was good value and an immensely popular car for those who were in need of practical family transport.
The Zafira Tourer is, in fact, the third iteration of the Zafira, and it’s a longer and wider car than the first two generations, thereby offering more interior space. There's also a higher-quality feel that pitches the car firmly against a newer generation of larger MPVs such as the Ford S-Max. Indeed, the Zafira Tourer was substantially facelifted in 2017 to keep it fresh and boost its appeal against a batch of highly competitive rivals.
Underneath, the car is based loosely on the stretched underpinnings of the Vauxhall Astra, boding well for the Zafira Tourer's driving abilities. There’s a reasonable range of engines on offer; the car can be had with a 1.4-litre petrol unit that would appear worryingly modest were it not a downsized turbo capable of 138bhp. The diesel offerings are the 132bhp 1.6 CDTi Ecotec and the 168bhp 2.0-litre CDTi , which is the most powerful engine available and good for a 9.1sec 0-60mph time, a 127mph top speed and modest CO2 emissions of 137g/km. A six-speed automatic is available with the higher-powered diesel and the 1.4 petrol.
There are six trims to choose from: Design, Energy, SRi, SE, Tech Line and Elite. Entry-level Design equips the Zafira Tourer with a wealth of standard features, including 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, parking sensors and LED day running lights. Inside, expect to find air conditioning, Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system with a 7.0in touchscreen display, DAB radio and USB and Bluetooth connectivity, along with the new emergency assistance system OnStar, complete with wi-fi hotspot.
Upgrade to Energy trim and you’ll find sat-nav, foglights and some chrome detailings, while SRi models get bigger wheels, sports seats and a three-spoke steering wheel. Mid-range SE trim gets a wealth of intelligent technology, including climate control, automatic lights and wipers and lounge seating. Tech Line has SE’s equipment list but with the added option of sat-nav (making it Tech Line Nav), while the range-topping Elite (also available with sat-nav as Elite Nav) comes with luxuries such as a panoramic windscreen and sunroof, leather upholstery and heated front seats.
On the road, all versions prove to be relatively smooth and sufficiently punchy. The 132bhp 1.6 diesel has enough pull from low revs to haul around a fully loaded car without working the engine too hard. The 168bhp 2.0 diesel provides more push through the mid-range, although obviously its emissions and fuel economy figures aren’t quite as impressive as the smaller engine. That said, the extra shove will be welcomed if you regularly travel with a fully loaded car. The 138bhp turbocharged 1.4 petrol is the cheapest engine in the range and is more than enough for urban duties. It’s also the smoothest and most refined of the units on offer.
It may be an MPV but the Zafira Tourer is pretty game when it comes to corners. Its steering is pleasingly quick, there’s plenty of grip and very little lean, and its handling is entirely predictable and safe, if not immeasurably good fun. Surprisingly, perhaps, the car can make efficient and reasonably enjoyable cross-country progress.
The ride can be a little on the firm side, though, especially on the larger wheel options, but the car deals well with big troughs and crests, and remains nicely composed over road irregularities. As for refinement, the Zafira Tourer’s big door mirrors generate some wind noise at speed and some road noise can be heard. The diesel engines are a bigger issue, because they sound a little rough, especially when you work them hard.
Inside is an interior of obvious intelligence and neat design. The driving position is excellent and visibility in all directions good. The dashboard and its surrounding controls are logically laid out and pleasing to the eye. This may be one of the cheaper MPVs around but there is plenty of evidence of soft-touch plastics, chrome detailing and glossy plastics to lift the overall feeling of quality inside.
Space is good, too. There’s plenty of head and leg room in the first two rows and the three middle-row seats slide back and forth independently. However, three adults will find it a squeeze across that row because the centre seat is narrower than the others. Tech Line Nav and Elite Nav models get lounge seating, allowing you to fold the central seat in the middle row into an armrest and giving more space to the two outer seats. Access to the third row is reasonable, but grown-ups will find it uncomfortable for long journeys, so it's best to leave it for the kids.
The boot is a reasonable size and a handy shape, with good access, and all five rear seats can be folded flat to increase the space available.