VAUXHALL ZAFIRA TOURER: would it get a ten from Len?

1196284_VX_16002IT’S getting tougher out there for manufacturers, as various sectors of the market see more and more new, interesting or revamped models vying for your cash.

And probably none more so than in the MPV market, where families with more than your average 2.4 children are scouting round for the best – and safest – way to transport the anklebiters.

Vauxhall launched its Zafira people carrier back in 1999 and its latest incarnation, called the Tourer, has become even more of an up market family mover in terms of the space it offers and the quality of the interior. A much needed and welcome improvement over the original.

436619_64051-d-vauIt’s been a bit of a while since you could label a Vauxhall interior properly luxurious but this one fits the bill admirably over the more utilitarian and workmanlike offerings of the past.

Its still got that innovative Flex7 seating that makes it more practical than some, and storage spots all over the cabin so it gets a high rating on the practicality front. The seats in the third row are really only suitable for little people – a fact born out by the two blokes who took up residence there on a tour of Lanzarote in a rented Zafira last year.

The Vauxhall’s second row seats can be moved back and forth, or folded individually, and the middle seat can even be stowed, allowing the two outer seats to slide in to free up elbow room.

But if a decent, smooth and unflustered ride is your main reason for delving into the MPV market, then the Vauxhall will appeal to you.

The accent is on comfort, though when you want to get a shift on, the 2.0CDTi with its 400Nm of torque is capable of respectable performance while still not digging too deeply into the childrens inheritance when it comes to stopping at the pumps. A claimed combined 54.3 says so, if you can attain it.

1196279_VX_16005The steering has a light feel but also an accurate one, so you’re always fully aware which direction the front wheels are pointing. And the driving position has enough multi-direction adjustment to made the seating position very comfortable for all sizes of driver.

The ride quality within is enhanced by the fact that road and engine noise is well supressed from those inside. The refinement is commendable for a two litre diesel, and the word is the smaller 1.6 diesel is even smoother. Maybe not in the Len Goodman class, but smooth nonetheless.

Vauxhall offer a multitude of trim grades, the top one of which is Elite as sampled here with its panoramic windscreen giving you a new and interesting slant on the ‘light and airy’ tag. The view forward is vast and unspoilt, save for the rear view mirror, and while a generally cloudy winter day takes on a whole new appeal, a bright sunny summers day might not be the best time to sample the view if you value the skin on your forehead.

Zafira has always had a smart look to it, and it hasn’t been altered much at all over the years – a nip and tuck here and there to catch the eye, and the latest model has a high window line that gives it a smarter profile.

Its list of standard equipment stands up well against some of its opposition, and innovations like its FlexRail centre console system, which moves to reveal or hide compartments below, is a box ticker for those of us who carry a myriad of clutter around with us.

Zafira Tourer is a decent sized car so Vauxhall conveniently fit front and rear park sensors as standard on all models.

1261714_VAUXHALL_ZAFIRA_024FOR: smart exterior looks, well equipped and neatly designed interior.
AGAINST: not the best residuals around.

FASTFACTS: Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Elite Nav; £28,570; 1956cc CDTi diesel, 170ps, 400Nm; six speed manual gearbox; Top speed 129mph, 0-60mph 9.1secs; fuel – urban 44.1, extra urban 62.8, combined 54.3; CO2 137g/km.

© 2017