Vauxhall Zafira

20 Apr, 2006 11:36am Richard Dredge

With little else to touch it in the used compact MPV market, should the Vauxhall Zafira be your first choice?

Arriving late to the compact MPV market, Vauxhall produced a vehicle that was truly innovative when the clever Zafira was launched. Seven seats over three rows were shoehorned into the Astra-based people carrier, but thanks to the company's pioneering Flex7 system, you could fold up to five of them to suit any journey.

However, with all of them in place, there's only really enough room for children in the rearmost seats. The chassis is beginning to show its age alongside rivals, but the Zafira's safe handling is ideal for drivers who want stability and predictable road manners.

Prices

An entry-level 1999 Zafira showing 100,000 miles will cost you £4,000 privately. The 2.0 DTi is our favourite - £9,000 gets you a 35,000-mile 51-plate example from a dealer. But if you've only got £5,000-£6,000 to spend, there is still plenty of choice across the range.

What to look for

Best buy is the 2.0 DTi, launched in July 2000. The GSi Turbo is good, but it's costly to run and the ride is very hard. Before buying a late used model, check you can't beat the deal with a pre-registered new car. Car supermarkets often have some great offers - but ensure the vehicle is a genuine UK car, not a grey import.

Checklist

  • Engines: all powerplants can use large amounts of oil, especially during the first 10,000 miles or so - Vauxhall says up to a litre of oil needs to be put in every 1,000 miles. Make sure this has been done. Check for signs of a smoking exhaust.
  • Interior: check the condition of the interior trim - these cars are often used for carrying children, so the upholstery is likely to have taken a fair amount of abuse. Dirty marks will be easy to fix, rips and tears less so.
  • Spare wheel: it has been known for spares to have been stolen - they are mounted under the back of the car behind the rear axle. The standard fix is to buy a £37.50 K-lok from Osprey Products. Log on to www.ospreyproducts.co.uk for further details.
  • Brakes: rear brake can seize. The best way to check them is to jack up the back of the car with the handbrake disengaged, then try to turn the wheels by hand. Any resistance will need attention.
  • Footwells: the front footwells can fill up with water due to the bulkhead springing a leak, thanks to poorly fitting seals. This needs to be fixed by someone who knows what they're doing - so a trip to a Vauxhall dealer is on the cards.

Recalls

April 2000: Possibility of fuel leakage (X20DTL diesels built Jan-Dec 2000).
December 2000: Potential fuel leak (cars built Jan 2000-Dec 2001).
August 2002: Possible contamination of brake fluid (chassis W0L0TGF7522 199742- W0L0TGF7522229096).

Owner comment

Lynda Bush from London runs a Zafira 1.6 Club as a second car for her nursery. She claims it's great for carrying kids, thanks to the seating - and there's lots of space for lugging less precious loads. "Reliability has been top-notch, but I wish the car had ABS," she says.

Verdict

Rivals are only now catching up with the Zafira's flexible seating layout, but in the used market, there's little to touch it. While the functional interior may look a little drab, its exterior, while unexciting, still doesn't look out of date. The car is also proving to be the most reliable Vauxhall in years, making it even more desirable. Zafiras are also plentiful, so you can be choosy about which you buy - especially as there are so many engine and trim options. However, Vauxhall is in the final stages of preparing its successor. Based on the new Astra platform, it sports a more adventurous design, something that is bound to hit residuals of current models.

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