Vauxhall Zafira Tourer review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer is a more spacious and luxurious seven-seater that's designed to rival the Ford S-MAX

For: 
Modern luxurious cabin, good range of engines, practical
Against: 
Less fun to drive than rivals, 2.0 diesels are rough

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The Zafira Tourer is the first car to get Vauxhall’s all-new aluminium diesel, which shows how crucial the MPV market is. The 134bhp engine emits just 109g/km of CO2, and promises to make the seven-seater more appealing to cost-conscious families. 

Our choice: 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX S/S SE

Styling

4.2

Vauxhall hasn’t messed with the styling of the Zafira Tourer, but it’s always looked smart. It’s longer, taller and wider than a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, and the high window line helps to slim the profile, while boomerang-style headlights and sculpted flanks mask the long overhangs.

Tech Line models come with a chrome window line treatment, silver-effect roof rails and dark-tinted rear windows, which help the people carrier look a bit more upmarket.

Inside, it’s refreshingly straightforward. The big buttons on the centre stack are easy to use, while the switchgear is well damped and feels sturdy. And while the cheap plastic steering rim ruins the premium feel, Tech Line models get sat-nav and classy ambient lighting.

Chunky A-pillars and a darker interior ensure the Zafira doesn’t feel all that airy, but there is the option of a panoramic roof, and the driving position is fine, offering plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment.

Driving

3.9

The first thing you notice about the Zafira is how well road and engine noise are isolated from the cabin. The new 1.6 engine is a huge improvement over the old 1.7, and smoother than the pricier and more powerful 2.0-litre CDTi – although there’s still some clatter at idle.

Still, you’ll only notice it outside, and once you’re on the move the car is more refined than you'll find with a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and very quiet at speed. It also has a revised six-speed manual gearbox, with a slicker shift action than before.

Our test track figures dispel any concerns that the 134bhp 1.6 diesel lacks the power you need in a workhorse MPV, too. The Zafira reaches 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds. Torque is at 320Nm, so it feels quite responsive on the road.

Handling is decent rather than great, but the Vauxhall is composed and comfortable. If you push on along a twisty A-road, the ride is a bit bouncy, but body control is reassuring. This car drives as you expect a family MPV to drive. The steering is light but accurate, and the suspension delivers a decent ride around town and on the motorway. Plus, front and rear parking sensors come as standard.

Reliability

4.2

Owners rate their Zafira Tourers highly, with the car finishing an impressive 12th in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey. Vauxhall’s 26th place out of 32 in the manufacturer chart is disappointing, but buyers choosing the new 1.6 CDTi should be encouraged that owner GM has invested heavily in its new family of four-cylinder diesels. 

It also has a good safety record, with a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. The Zafira Tourer scored 94 per cent for adult protection and 83 per cent for children.

Practicality

4.3

The Zafira Tourer has a shorter wheelbase than a Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, but there’s still plenty of room and, as you’d expect, lots of flexibility in the seating layout. 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 it’s not perfect. While passengers in the middle row get a decent amount of legroom, they have to put up with a small transmission hump. Plus, the Zafira’s centre seat is narrow and only the outer seats feature Isofix.

Still, Vauxhall’s Flex7 seats are easy to fold and all the levers, handles and runners seem sturdy. The third row seats can be folded completely into the floor to maximise luggage space, but with five seats in place, the Zafira’s 710-litre boot has a narrow load floor and low parcel shelf.

It still has less space once all the rear seats are folded, with 1,860 litres. And while the rearmost seats have space for children, they’re a bit cramped for adults.

Running Costs

4.2

The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 2.0 CDTi ecoFLEX was the cheapest in the range to run, boasting CO2 emissions of just 119g/km and 62.3mpg. However, the new 1.6-litre diesel trumps this with better fuel economy and a 10g/km drop in CO2 emissions.

That said, the lower-powered diesel models have been tuned for economy, blunting response, so if you regularly travel with lots of people and luggage in the car, it may be worth considering the 163bhp 2.0-litre. The Zafira Tourer is quite a heavy car, so we'd try to avoid the cheaper purchase price of the 1.8-litre petrol engine, as it will be more expensive to tax and fuel.

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How does a car get just over 4 stars in all but one section end up with an overall 3 star rating! Surely it should be 4.....

Last updated: 17 Feb, 2014
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