Variant tested : SE 2.0-litre CDTi ecoFlex s/s
By Wayne Gorrett
► A classy, family-friendly cabin with plenty of room.
► Powerful and strong 2.0-litre CDTi ecoFlex diesel.
► Third row only suitable for children.
What is it?
The Vauxhall Zafira is a five-door MPV (multi-passenger/purpose vehicle) that’s been on UK roads since 1999. Just over 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 family-friendly practicality. It is built at GM’s Opel plant in Bochum, Germany. The Hungarian-built 2.0-litre CDTi engine replaced GM’s ageing 1.7-litre unit late in 2014. It also gets GM’s newly re-engineered six-speed manual gearbox.
The Style Factory
The Zafira Tourer is big and the dual-bladed front end is a striking feature. 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 Story
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.
Engine & Transmission
The 2.0-litre CDTi ecoFlex is a workhorse. 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 168bhp at 3,750 rpm and torque aplenty of 400Nm between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, the chunky oil-burner transforms the Zafrira Tourer into an altogether different proposition for a car full of family. The engine emits just 129g of CO2 per kilometre via its smooth 6-speed manual ‘box and supports its efficiency credentials with an impressive 57.7 mpg on the official combined cycle.
Due to the different target demographic, Zafira Tourer’s are better equipped than its five-seat sibling. There are currently seven Tourer grades available – the Design priced from £17,815, Energy, Tech Line, Exclusiv, Sri, Elite and SE as tested from a competitive £25,775.
The SE Tourer tested here is priced from £25,775 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 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.
On the Road
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 2.0-litre diesel engine 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. The 168bhp diesel offers all the power and torque you need in a workhorse MPV. The Zafira Tourer reaches 0-60mph in 9.14 seconds and thanks to its usable 400Nm of torque, feels surprisingly responsive on the road.
In line with most MPVs, the Zafira Tourer’s 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 2.0-litre CDTi ecoFlex is a strong and powerful performer. The official (combined) miles-per-gallon given as 57.7. However, over 556 mixed miles during our week together, we realised only 48.7 mpg, or 84% of claimed. In light of the engine capacity, this may be considered reasonable at best.
Vauxhall has slowly but steadily elevated its brand image higher in the marketplace. It is still a volume car maker, but it wishes to be seen – quite rightly, in my opinion – as a maker of more upmarket vehicles through improvements to cabin ambience and the driving experience. This outgoing Zafira Tourer remains a polished take on the hugely popular MPV.
Its Ampera-inspired streamlined exterior compliments its smooth and refined on-road manner, too.
The Tourer is about to undergo a significant external and internal refresh and will reach UK showrooms in October 2016. In the meantime, the current Zafira is a step up from the standard 5-seat Zafira. The Tourer offers day-to-day practicality and functionality with buckets of family appeal. Its cabin remains a perfectly functional and comfortable travel space for up to seven people large and small.