New Zafira Tourer hits the mark

The Zafira has been with us for over a decade and has served Vauxhall and its customers well. However, the gap in Vauxhall’s armoury has – until now – been the full-sized MPV. The Zafira Tourer addresses this and I took a trip to meet Vauxhall’s friendly PR staff to see what it is like.

The standard Zafira has a tidy shape, a little slab-sided but neatly proportioned. The new Tourer variant, however, really can be described as smart. The additional length (190mm), tight sculpting with the hockey-stick shape on its flanks (in the opposite direction to the Insignia) and the Ampera-style nose provide a strong, coherent design.

So, what’s different? We’re told the Zafira Tourer is positioned to pick up Insignia customers who want more space but aren’t prepared to compromise on comfort or trim. And here, it delivers on its promises with good levels of equipment and a capacious cabin. Design and build quality put it above much of the competition, too.

The standard Zafira’s rear bench seat is replaced by three independently adjustable chairs in the Tourer. On the SE and Elite versions, there is a ‘lounge seating system’ which allows the central back piece to drop down and morph into one middle arm rest. The outer seats can then move a couple of inches toward the centre to increase shoulder room for the (now) two rear seats. It becomes a roomy four-seater in the manner of the old Vauxhall Signum. The rear-most row of seats is easy to pop up and because of the increased vehicle length, doesn’t need row two pushed fully forward. In terms of flexibility, the Tourer offers everything one might need for long hauls, allowing varying ratios of people to luggage.

Available as an option on the higher trim models (which have the electronic parking brake) is FlexRail, a system of two cubby boxes which slide fore and aft along shiny rails between the front seats. While attractive and effective, it is more novelty than must-have.

I started off with the 2.0 CDTi Sri. I do wonder why everything needs to be labelled as sporty. This model comes with sports seats, rear spoiler and sports pedals. The seats are just very good – and don’t need a ‘sport’ moniker at all. The spoiler doesn’t add any clear benefit. And how much time does one really spend examining the pedals in an MPV? Marketing aside, this is actually a fabulous vehicle. The driving position is excellent, the facia design is standard Vauxhall (translating as very good and easy to use) and the controls are well weighted and intuitive.

On the road, Vauxhall’s engineers have done a great job with the ride and handling. The track is wider 96mm (front) and 78mm (rear) than the standard Zafira, improving stability. The electronic steering has just been re-tuned for the UK market to reduce self-centring action; I found it light enough for manoeuvring yet providing sufficient feedback through the corners.

The 165PS CTDi engine is well suited to the Zafira Tourer, and provides ample torque to move it and a potentially full load. 0-62 mph comes in under the critical 10 seconds (9.1) making progress feel swift and effortless.

Turning to the Exclusiv model (which sounds like the top specification but is in fact only one-up from the base ES), gone is the smart leather and a number of toys. Fitted with the ecoFLEX 130PS engine, it initially sounded a little rougher. It still has a fair amount of torque though and 10.6 seconds to 62 mph is still respectable. Once warm, it felt (and sounded) fine; this engine is likely to be the biggest seller based on its lower emissions and therefore cheaper road tax. For the higher mileage drivers, a quoted combined 62.8 mpg over the CDTi’s 54.3 mpg makes the ecoFLEX an attractive option.

In summary, the Zafira Tourer is a well-designed and well-built MPV. Low emission levels and good fuel economy make the capable ecoFLEX engine a sensible choice to keep running costs down.

Models tested:

Zafira Tourer Sri 2.0 CDTi (165 PS) Start/Stop (from £25,915)

Power: 165 PS (4,000 rpm), torque: 350Nm (1,750-2,500 rpm), emissions: 137 g/km CO2 (band E), 0-62 mph: 9.1 secs.

Zafira Tourer Exclusiv 2.0 ecoFLEX (130 PS) Start/Stop (from £23,950)

Power: 130 PS (4,000 rpm), torque: 300Nm (1,750-2,500 rpm), emissions: 119 g/km CO2 (band C), 0-62 mph: 10.6 secs.

Stats: luggage capacity: 1,860 litres.

Motor Writer rating:

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