Vauxhall Zafira Tourer: First drive review
Vauxhall is increasing MPV customer choice with the introduction of its new seven-seater Zafira Tourer.
An all-new model, the Ford S-Max and SEAT Alhambra rival only shares its name with the existing Zafira which remains on sale. Prices start at £21,000.
Every manufacturer now seems to offer a compact MPV with seven-seats these days, but back in 1999 the first generation Zafira pioneered the concept of a smaller MPV offering more space and better flexibility.
The concept might not be unique to Vauxhall anymore and rivals certainly quickly caught up, but the current second generation car launched back in 2005 remains a regular feature of the monthly best-sellers chart.
This time round, there's a new 'lounge' seating system. A similar concept to the one debuted in the smaller Meriva; there are three seats that can be transformed into two with more space to stretch out.
The seats slide forward and back independently, plus access is improved as only one person needs to get out to give access to the third row of seats.
Although once you're in the third row of seats, you realise these are best for children as legroom for the tallest is tight. Best hope that passengers in the second row will move forward to give more legroom.
Bootspace is dependent on whether the third row of seats is in place or not. With just the second row of seats in place, there is 710 litres of bootspace. Fold all of the seats down, except the driver and passenger seats and this grows to a massive, van-like 1860 litres.
At the front, there's a stylish, modern dashboard. Although I'm not too keen on the button-heavy centre console. However, the driving position is comfortable and the front seats supportive.
A panoramic roof is standard on top models and certainly let a welcome and generous dose of winter sun into the Zafira Tourer's cabin.
There are five trims to choose from, but all models are fitted with a seven-speaker CD/stereo system, USB port, electric front windows, electric mirrors and cruise control.
On the outside, the Zafira follows current family styling cues. At the front, there are the same boomerang-style headlights first seen on the Vauxhall Ampera. At the side, there's a large glass area that kicks up at the back and the distinctive wing design along the flanks of the car.
I think the rear of Zafira Tourer looks similar to rival, the Ford S-Max, with the large rear window and curvy rear light clusters which can optionally be LED-lit.
So we've talked about the new features and design, but what is the new Zafira Tourer like to drive? I had the chance to try three of the five engines available, a 138bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol, a 128bhp 2.0-litre Ecoflex diesel and a 163bhp 2.0-litre diesel.
I'd avoid the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, as it feels underpowered in the Zafira and you have to work it hard to get any decent performance. Then, when you do, it becomes coarse and noisy.
The 2.0-litre Ecoflex diesel engine is expected to be the top seller. This is because of the low 119g/km CO2 emissions and average fuel economy figures of 62.8mpg. Good thing it was the best of the Zafiras I drove then, with plenty of low down torque and decent refinement.
The 163bhp 2.0-litre obviously has more power, but the only difference over the 128bhp engine is that the emissions go up to 137g/km as it is no more refined. So, unless you need the extra oomph, in my view, the Ecoflex is the better diesel option.
I tried Zafira Tourers on 17 and 18-inch wheels and in my view, it rides the potholes best on the smaller of the two. All Zafiras have been good to drive and the Tourer is no different; the light steering has plenty of feel, all models have excellent body control and grip is good too.
So would I recommend the Zafira Tourer? I'm not sure it is the pioneer that the first generation car was, but it looks smart, drives well, is reasonably spacious and in Ecoflex form should prove cheap to run.