Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- A versatile and practical family car
- Great and powerful GSi and diesel engine
- The rear row of seats is not comfortable
- Interior lacking attention to detail
When the Zafira appeared in 1999 it was neither the first nor the best looking MPV in the market. There wasn't anything revolutionary about it, but it soon it conquered a massive margin of the European family market. It managed this favourable position because it became a good choice for a family as it is reliable, practical and offers a choice of various engines.
Exterior and Interior
Although the Zafira is quite a big car, it shares its platform and many other parts with the Vauxhall Astra. Its exterior design is simple, unpretentious and classic. Although it looks like a typical middle class MPV, there is a level of elegance about the car.
Its cabin has 3 rows of seats and it was advertised as a 7-seater. Although the middle row of seats is really comfortable, you cannot say the same about the 3rd row. It can seat two adults, but they will soon get tired due to the limited legroom and the seats being quite cramped. They had to keep the size of the 3rd row to a minimum because of the novel way of folding the seats. They don't have to be removed and they don't keep taking up the space by remaining semi-folded somewhere behind the middle row. The Zafira's extra seats disappear into the floor providing an excellent flat luggage compartment with a decent volume of 1700litres. It is, however, considerably less than the Renault Espace has to offer ‐ the difference being almost 1000litres.
The materials used are good quality and the overall interior is acceptable. The car is well equipped, even the basic trim comes with two air bags and electric windows. For an even better level of equipment, look for the Elegance edition. Most of the Zafiras come with air conditioning.
Performance and Economy
The entry level 1.6-litre engine is rather weak, but is still suitable and shouldn't be a problem even with a fully-loaded Zafira. It also delivers a respectable 37mpg. For a little more excitement, there's a 1.8-litre powerplant. The fuel economy goes downhill from here. The 1.8-litre version gives 32mpg and the 2.2-litre engine returns 31mpg. Somehow the sporty 2.0-litre GSi doesn't really suit the Zafira. Why would a humble family MPV need a sporty engine? However, it depends on how you look at it. If you don't want a diesel version and are going to go for one of the larger petrol engines, you might as well be a bit bolder and choose the GSi. Its fuel economy is within the range of 30mpg which is not a lot worse than the 1.8 and 2.2-litre engines but the power it delivers is amazing. As for the diesel, initially the Zafira was sold with an old-style 80BHP diesel engine, so it's a good idea to look for a car that's been manufactured after 2000 because that's when a turbo diesel appeared and it was a good one. Delivering 44mpg it is as economical as many smaller cars.
Like to Drive
The Zafira is a large and comfortable car. Power-wise there's not a lot of excitement to be expected, unless you go for the GSi model. The Zafira is built for comfort and utility and it doesn't have to be flashy to attract attention.
Faults and Repairs
The Vauxhalls of the late 90s were already on a road of improvement and generally the Zafira is a reliable car. The older models might have some Astra-esque faults, especially with engines and gearboxes. If you buy a relatively new Zafira, you should be ok.
One thing that often goes wrong is the air conditioner. Repairing it might be very expensive and considering its compressor is so integrated within other systems, you simply cannot afford to buy a Zafira with a faulty air con.