Vauxhall Zafira Tourer vs rivals

Vauxhall aims to turn the MPV class upside down with its classy new Zafira Tourer. We test it against key rivals from Ford and SEAT

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer vs rivals

Family life can be a rollercoaster, and if you choose the wrong car there will be more downs than ups. The best MPVs aim to cope with all that life throws at them – which is exactly what the new Zafira Tourer has been designed to do. Vauxhall claims the car raises the bar when it comes to design, luxury, flexibility and innovation in the MPV market.

Bold words, but they need to be, as we paired the new Vauxhall with the stylish Ford S-MAX and our current favourite, the SEAT Alhambra, at the thrilling G-force ride at Drayton Manor Park, Staffs, for a head-to-head shoot-out.

The Zafira Tourer comes with a choice of normally aspirated 1.8 and turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engines, while the 2.0-litre CDTI diesel is available with 108bhp, 128bhp or 163bhp.

Here we test the 163bhp diesel with stop-start in modest Exclusiv trim. It’s the cheapest car on test, but price is only one factor; our winner needs to be a great all-rounder. Does the Zafira measure up to the standards set by mid-range versions of the SEAT and Ford?

Verdict

If you drive the new Zafira Tourer in isolation or view it as a replacement for the current Zafira, it has plenty going for it. Not only does it look great, interior quality has also improved and the seating is more flexible than ever.

However, Vauxhall has pitched the car against full-sized MPVs, and it simply doesn’t have the passenger or luggage space of key rivals. The problems don’t end there, either. While the Tourer is much better to drive than previous Zafiras, it lacks the S-MAX’s dynamic sparkle. That leaves the newcomer without a unique selling point, and it finishes third as a result.

So which of the other two cars comes out on top? If you value style and driving fun, the cheaper S-MAX should be your choice. But it doesn’t win. While the SEAT scores fewer points for style and fun, it has the edge where it really matters: practicality. It takes victory with its combination of space, ease of use and quality.

WinnerSeat Alhambra ★★★★★ You pay more to buy the Alhambra over the Ford or Vauxhall, but it’s worth the extra. Impressive interior quality, easy-to-use seats and a gigantic cabin deliver unrivalled practicality. The sliding doors also mark it out, making it much easier for large families to live with on a day-to-day basis.

2ndFord S-MAX ★★★★★ The S-MAX still provides the best mix of style, practicality and driver appeal. Refinement is excellent, and while it isn’t as clean as the Zafira, it’s far more spacious, plus well equipped. It costs less than the SEAT and has the best residuals of the trio, while the TDCi diesel engine is a gem.

3rdVauxhall Zafira Tourer ★★★ In Exclusiv trim, the Zafira Tourer is the cheapest choice, but you need to step up to SE trim to get as much kit as its rivals – and that brings the price up to a similar level. Low emissions make it a good company choice and it’s an attractive addition to the MPV market, but the Vauxhall is outclassed.

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