Vauxhall's improved second generation Zafira Tourer diesel is a premium product with a proletarian badge. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer diesel is a smart choice in the sector for spacious yet still quite compact seven-seat MPVs. This revised version will continue to be mainly preferred in the 2.0 CDTi diesel guise we look at here. Improvements include smarter styling and upgraded infotainment. And it's as practical as ever.
Some products are resolutely and forensically researched into existence, fitting into some sort of ruthlessly logical product masterplan. Others just seem to have sprouted from one corner of a giant organisation and defy conventional wisdom. Think Volkswagen Golf for the first approach and Nissan Juke for the latter. Then there's this improved Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. In execution it feels relentlessly thorough. It's beautifully built and is fiendishly clever. A seven-seater with real class, it's a bit of a head scratcher insofar as it's possibly the slickest car in its class yet wears one of the most blue-collar badges. If customers buy a vehicle based on what it can do, Vauxhall should have no problems shifting some serious numbers. The diesel versions are the best tuned to the demands of the British market and there's no shortage of choice.
There's now only a single diesel choice for Zafira Tourer buyers, but it's the one that most of them would probably have gone for anyway, a 170PS 2.0 CDTi unit with a choice of either manual or automatic transmission. Acceleration to 62mph takes just over 9s en route to 129mph. This diesel engine is extremely refined, and decent torque means you don't need to mash the throttle hard, especially if you're driving fully laden. The Zafira Tourer has a clever suspension system, using the same strut front mounted on a separate subframe as the Insignia. The rear end doesn't feature a multi-link arrangement, Vauxhall rightly reasoning that this adds bulk and cost where it's not required but features a neat Watts link arrangement. Building on the chassis' dynamic prowess is the option of Vauxhall's FlexRide adaptive damping system. This automatically adapts the car's damping to suit road conditions, cornering speed, vehicle movements and an individual's driving style. In addition, drivers can select from a choice of three settings: Standard, Tour and Sport.
Design and Build
If you think this car looks smart from the outside, you'll be especially impressed with the upgraded interior, in which you'll find essentially a reinvention of every neat MPV idea you can think of packaged together into a 'Flex7' format that really works. The 'Flex7' thing has always been a Zafira trademark but before this Tourer model was launched, it had got to the point where third row seating that folded into the floor behind a central rear bench really didn't seem that clever any more. This upgraded system moved things on, a set-up that doesn't have a central bench, three individual more comfortable and more flexible seats instead provided. These can individually slide by around 100mm backwards or forwards and recline for greater comfort into three different positions of 16, 20 or 24-degrees. Go for a plusher Zafira Tourer with so-called 'Lounge Seating' and you'll find that they can do even more, should your need be restricted to the carriage of two rearward occupants seeking greater Club Class comfort. To create such a layout, you've only to slide each of the two outer seats in a L-shape, backwards then inwards. As you do so, the central seat also folds itself inwards, its bolsters becoming comfortable armrests for the remaining two passengers who suddenly find themselves with limousine-like standards of leg and shoulder room. It's certainly not very limousine-like if you've been confined to a place at the very rear, where the seats do very little other than to fold out from the floor. They'll be fine for reasonably agile uncomplaining adults on short to medium-length journeys but it would be a mistake to think of this car as some sort of 7-seater mini-bus. 710-litres of luggage room is available with the third row folded away and up to 1860-litres if you want to fold down the second row as well and switch to removal van mode.
Market and Model
Pricing starts at just over £21,500 for 2.0 CDTi diesel Zafira models. There are eight trim levels - 'Design', 'Energy', 'SRi', 'SRi Nav','SE', 'Tech Line', 'Elite' and 'Elite Nav'. All get Vauxhall's IntelliLink system and seven-inch central dash inftainment display, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity available. OnStar is standard across the range and the base model comes with digital radio and cruise control, LED daytime running lights, 17" alloy wheels and front and rear parking sensors. The latest model comes with all the well-known virtues of its predecessors, such as the Flex7aseating system and the option of features like ergonomically-certified AGR front seats, the Flex-Fixabicycle carrier and FlexRide adaptive damping. Most will want to pay extra for the optional foldable and space-saving luggage compartment FlexCover which can create a level load floor and protect the backs of the seats from dirt. The Panoramic windscreen, where glasswork extends up above your head, and the vast Panoramic Sunroof are also both tempting options, the latter explaining the regrettable absence of the central-spine interior roof storage system so useful on plusher version of the old MK2 Zafira.
Cost of Ownership
As we said earlier, most Zafira Tourer buyers will want a diesel - and may be surprised to find that the 170PS 2.0-litre unit manages 54.3mpg on the combined cycle and 137g/km of CO2. That'll give you a usefully long range from the 58-litre fuel tank. Helping in this regard is Cleantech Combustion Technology and a stop/start system that cuts the engine when you don't need it, say when you're stuck in urban traffic or waiting at the lights. Oh and the REPS Rack Assist Electric Power Steering system also helps, an electronic set-up that only kicks in when absolutely needed. Opt for a car with one of Vauxhall's sat nav systems and you'll get functionality that not only shows the fastest and shortest routes but also the one on which a driver can expect to use the least amount of fuel, taking into account vehicle specification, road characteristics and driving style.
Unexpectedly endearing would be my two word summary of the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. The product is brilliantly resolved and if you want the best seven-seat mid-sized MPV, you may well be looking at it right here. The 170PS diesel engine is also the pick of the engine line up, although the 140PS petrol unit is also well worth your time if you're a low mileage user. With all the practicality you could reasonably expect, sweetly resolved driving characteristics, great economy figures and a broad range of trims and options to choose from, the diesel engined Zafira Tourers are squarely on point. If you can negotiate a discount to bring the pricing down, they're genuinely hard to fault.