The original Vauxhall Zafira revolutionized the MPV market with its clever Flex7 seating system that folded away to leave a massive loading area as well as all its family friendly features. These features have been carried through to this new generation of Zafira, but it now comes with a more modern and sharper styling and is built using quality materials. There is a wide range of engines to suit everyone's needs and the diesels return good fuel economy and power. It had a minor facelift in 2008 which changed some of the styling and improved the trim levels too.
This new generation Zafira comes with a new sporty look, making it a very stylish looking family car with options such as a panoramic glass roof and keyless entry which add to the overall style that Vauxhall is trying to convey with the Zafira. The interior is spacious with plenty of room for the front two rows of passengers although taller individuals may find the third row slightly claustrophobic and cramped. The large optional panoramic roof lets loads of light in making it feel even bigger and it comes with electric blinds to block out the sun if it gets too bright or hot. The seats are all comfortable with good support, although some people may find them a bit too firm for long journeys. The Zafira's Flex7 seating system is the same as in the original Zafira which comes with the option of sliding the middle row forwards or backwards to increase the legroom and the back row can be folded away into the floor of the vehicle to increase the loading space. The middle row of seats can also be folded down and pushed up against the front seats to increase the load space even further. Additional space can be found in the large air conditioned glove box, net pouches and roof mounted storage bins which came as an optional extra.
The entry level 'Expression' trim is scarcely equipped and should be avoided, but thankfully the rest of the trims come with a lot more equipment. The 'Life' trim is better coming with air con and a CD stereo, followed by the 'Club' trim which offers 16-inch alloys, steering wheel mounted audio controls and curtain airbags. The 'Design' trim is the best though offering all you will probably want with electric windows all round, trip computer, front fog lamps, rain sensing wipers, leather seats and three spoke steering wheel, tinted rear glass and silver roof rails. The sporty 'SRi' model doesn't come with much extra and the ride isn't as good due to the stiffened suspension.
The Zafira comes with the option of nine engines which is comprised of six petrol and three diesels. The petrol engines start with two 1.6-litre versions that offer 105bhp and 115bhp, these are followed by a 140bhp 1.8-litre, a turbocharged 2.0-litre producing 200bhp, a 2.2-litre with 150bhp and the range topping turbocharged 2.0-litre VXR that produces 236bhp. The diesels consist of two 1.9-litre engines producing 120bhp and 150bhp, and a 1.7-litre ecoFLEX with 110bhp which was introduced in early 2009.
All of the engines are fairly reliable but some of them are just impractical. The 105bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine is one of them as it lacks the power needed and feels extremely lethargic when fully loaded. The bigger 1.6-litre with 115bhp is slightly better feeling more lively, but still isn't really powerful enough. The two 2.0-litre engines are also impractical with the 200bhp engine being sporty and fun to drive, but the fuel economy is terrible coming in under 30mpg which seems a bit excessive for families who are likely to be trying to keep costs down. The 2.0-litre VXR is even worse with its 236bhp and it also has poor economy falling blow 30mpg and the ride is seriously compromised by all that speed and power. The 1.8-litre is better and has proved the more popular of the petrol engines with its 140bhp which should be enough to satisfy most people and also manages a respectable 39mpg. The 2.2-litre also isn't a bad choice with it managing 34mpg and is fairly quick as well going from 0-60 in 9.9 seconds, but thankfully the ride hasn't been compromised and is still comfortable.
The diesels are by far the superior engines with all three of them performing very well and are smooth and refined. There isn't much to separate the two 1.9-litre engines as both the 120bhp and 150bhp perform just as well as each other with almost the same fuel efficiency coming in at 46mpg and 45mpg respectively with the 150bhp a slightly faster. The only area you will notice any difference is when over taking where the larger 150bhp fares far better. The final engine in the range, the 1.7-litre ecoFLEX which offers excellent economy with 55mpg.This should prove attractive to most families trying to save money and isn't too slow coming in at 13seconds from 0-60mph. The diesels also fall into cheaper insurance groups with the 120bhp engine falling into group 9.
The driving position in the Zafira is good if a little confined. The front windscreen pillars do restrict visibility out the front a little bit and the dash layout isn't perfect either with a cluttered centre console, but it is fairly easy to use. The handling is fairly decent being direct and accurate and feels very safe with minimum body roll in the corners. The suspension soaks up most of the bumps easily although other new MPV's such as the Renault Scenic is better.
There have been two recalls of the Zafira over the years, but both of them were for the towbar which just needed towbar fitting bolts tightened correctly. It feels sturdy and over recent years Vauxhall have proven to be very reliable so there shouldn't be any serious problems. The time between services is quite lengthy which will save money and Vauxhalls repair and service costs are below the average price.
© 2013 WhichDeal Ltd