Variant tested: SE 1.6 CDTi 136PS ecoFlex Stop/Start
By Wayne Gorrett
✔ A classy, family-friendly cabin with plenty of room and the
all-new 1.6 CDTi ‘Whisper Diesel’ engine is a gem.
✖ Third row is really only suitable for children, ride and handling
could be better.
☀ ☀ ☀
The Vauxhall Zafira is a five-door MPV (multi-passenger/purpose vehicle) seen on our roads since 1999 and a little short of 15,000 were sold in the UK last year. The family-friendly seven-seat Tourer is sold alongside the standard Zafira, but is a more upmarket offering, with some extra practicality. It is built at GM’s Opel plant in Bochum, Germany. The all-new Hungarian-built 1.6 CDTi turbo- ‘Whisper Diesel’ engine belatedly replaced GM’s ageing 1.7-litre unit late last year. It also gets GM’s newly re-engineered six-speed manual gearbox.
The Outside Story
The Zafira Tourer is big and the new, dual-bladed front end is a striking improvement. It’s one of the better-looking people shifters in today’s UK market. Modern MPVs like the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and KIA’s Carens acknowledge that if you have to shift seven people all at once, it’s still desirable to stand out from the crowd. There’s no denying the Zafira’s basic MPV shape, but with a drag co-efficient of just 0.31, it remains competitive by slab-sided MPV standards.
The Inside Scoop
The interior of the Zafira Tourer feels upmarket with soft-touch plastics on everyday surfaces. Fortunately, the Zafira’s clever Flex7 seating arrangement has not only been retained but further improved to cope with demanding families. The optional ‘Lounge Seating’ facility allows the reconfiguration of the middle row into a divider-type arrangement.
Everyday family clutter is well accommodated in no less than 30 compartments. With all seven seats raised the remaining 152 litres of boost space is suitable for a small top-up at the shops. Lower row three and normal boot space is a whopping 710 litres. Lower the middle row and load space leaps to a cavernous 1,860 litres. The front passenger seat also flattens for those full-length B&Q curtain rails – or rarely-used fishing rods.
The Toy Box
Due to the different target demographic, Zafrira Tourer’s are better equipped than its five-seat sibling. There are currently six Tourer grades available – the ES priced from £21,375, the Exclusiv, Tech Line, SRi and SE as tested, topping out with the Elite from a competitive £26,980.
The SE Tourer tested here is priced from £24,415 and includes Vauxhall’s award-winning Flex7 seating system, cruise control, dual-zone climate control (with humidity sensor), electronic handbrake, trip computer, privacy glass, front and rear proximity sensors, ambient lighting, fog lamps, ESP+, hill-start assist, 17-in 10-spoke alloy wheels, second-row ‘Lounge’ seating, front passenger seat under-storage, FlexRail centre console system and security alarm.
The Power House
The new 1.6-litre ‘Whisper Diesel’ that replaces the 1.7-litre oil-burner is a gem. While still a little chatty at idle (it’s the nature of the diesel beast), it is considerably smoother and more refined than its ‘Massey Ferguson’ predecessor. Offering a useful 134bhp at 3,500rpm and torque aplenty of 320Nm from only 2,000rpm, the smaller oil-burner transforms the Zafrira Tourer into an altogether different proposition for a car full of family. The engine emits just 109g of CO2 per kilometre via its smooth 6-speed manual ‘box and supports its efficiency credentials with an impressive 68.9 (claimed) mpg.
On the move, one of the first things you notice about the Zafira Tourer are the advances made in reducing road and engine noise, both of which are well isolated from the cabin. The new aluminium 1.6 diesel engine is a considerable improvement and makes its contribution felt.
The car is refined and very quiet at speed and because of the revised six-speed manual gearbox, it has a slicker shift action with a shorter throw than before. Dispel any concerns that the 134bhp 1.6 diesel lacks the power you need in a workhorse MPV, as the Zafira Tourer reaches 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds and thanks to its usable torque, feels surprisingly responsive on the road.
In line with most MPVs, handling is decent rather than great, but remains composed and comfortable. Body control is reassuring, the steering is light but accurate and the suspension delivers a decent ride both around town and on the motorway.
The S Factor
The Zafira Tourer is well equipped with passive and active safety kit. EuroNCAP tests gave it a full five stars and owners get six airbags, stability control, ISOFIX child seat restraint system. However, the curtain airbags extend only to the middle row of seats, not the rearmost pair.
Vauxhall’s Zafira Tourer has always been a relatively strong proposition in the MPV market. It offers sleek and stylish appearance, a roomy and flexible seven-seat layout and the new 1.6 CDTi motor takes the Tourer to a new level offering much improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Opt for the efficient and refined 1.6-litre ecoFlex diesel as tested and running costs will be minimal as first year VED is zero and £20 per annum thereafter.
Fast Facts: Vauxhall Zafira Tourer SE 1.6 CDTi 136PS ecoFlex S/S
Price: £26,795 * Power / torque: 136PS @ 3,500rpm / 320Nm @ 2,000rpm *
* Transmission: 6-speed FWD manual * 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds * Top speed: 121mph *
* Stop/Start: Standard * Fuel consumption (claimed combined): 68.9mpg *
* CO2 rating: 109gkm * Fuel tank capacity: 58 litres *
* VED: First year zero, £20 p.a. thereafter *