Vauxhall Zafira review

Our Rating: 
2005 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Vauxhall Zafira has been hugely popular in the UK - it's practical and roomy, comfortable and good to drive, too

Practical and flexible interior, comfortable ride, good to drive
Will shortly be replaced, low residual values, very common

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The Vauxhall Zafira is now over a decade old, but still remains relevant thanks to its flexible seven-seat interior and heavy dealer discounts. It's more than just a bargain-basement MPV though, as it's decent to drive, comfortable and packed with family-friendly features. The third row of seats for example fold flat into the floor providing a level loading space, while the second row slides back and forth to create more legroom in the back. The interior can't hide its age though and next to the more upmarket, and larger, Zafira Tourer, the design is dated, too. Eventually, the Zafira will be replaced by a more fashionable SUV-shaped model, but for now if you're looking for a seven-seater that's great value and reliable, but aren't worried about image of tech, then it's worthy of consideration. 
Our choice: 1.7CDTi Exclusiv

Engines, performance and drive


As the Zafira is based on the Astra, it's good to drive and handles well - although it's not as fun to drive as the newer Zafira Tourer or the Ford Grand C-MAX. The ride is comfortable, and the cabin is well insulated from road and wind noise. There's two petrol engines and one diesel. The 1.6-litre petrol engine feels underpowered but the 1.8-litre petrol is a bit more brisk, with a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 122mph. The 1.7-litre CDTi diesel is the pick of the range, and comes in two power outputs. Both provide plenty of power for overtaking, even when heavily laden. The lower powered version produces 108bhp, while the more powerful version has 123bhp and can go from 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The petrol versions are a bit pricey to run. The entry-level 1.6-litre version manages 42.0mph and 157g/km of CO2, while the 1.8-litre returns 39.0mpg and emits 168g/km. The diesels both return fuel economy of 55.0mpg and CO2 emissions 134g/km. Parts and servicing should be reasonable, thanks to the sheer number of Zafiras on the road. 

Interior, design and technology


The Vauxhall Zafira looks a bit dated these days, but it still looks smart if a bit uninspiring. The interior feels well built if a bit drab, but the optional panoramic glass roof brightens up the space well. It does still feel a bit van-like and the thick A-pillars cause big blind spots, though. There are three trim levels: Exclusiv, Excite and Design. Entry-level cars come fitted with front electric windows, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, heated door mirrors and tinted glass. Excite adds 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth and front fog lights, while Design models get climate control, automative wipers, all-round electric windows and heated front seats.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Vauxhall Zafira is perfect for large families. Vauxhall's Flex7 seating system feels a little clumsy and awkward compared to newer rivals like the Zafira Tourer, Renault Grand Scenic and Mazda 5. But it does mean the Zafira can seat seven in comfort, or be transformed into a 1,820-litre load lugger. But with all seven seats in place, there's a paltry 140 litres of boot space. The middle and back row of seats fold flat into the floor, and the middle row also slides for more legroom or bootspace as required. Higher-spec cars get plenty of neat features such as storage boxes in the roof, an air-conditioned glovebox, keyless entry and an optional panoramic glass roof.

Reliability and Safety


The Zafira has a five star rating for adult occupant, four for child and just two for pedestrian protection. All Zafiras come with ABS with cornering brake control - which helps avoid skidding under hard cornering - and electronic brake force distribution, as well as collapsable pedals to avoid leg injuries. There's also driver, passenger and front side airbags as standard, while curtain airbags are offered on higher-spec cars. The Zafira finished a respectable 47th in the 2012 Driver Power Top 100. Everything feels very well built, and many of the components are borrowed from the Astra which should help minimise risk of problems.

Last updated: 5 May, 2012