2.5.2012 Vauxhall Zafira ecoFLEX Tourer review
The V in Vauxhall must stand for versatile because the company keeps adding features that make its cars more useful in everyday life and the new Zafira Tourer with its 30 stowage compartments and trays and clever Flex-7 seating for seven is no exception.
That you can choose a 2-litre diesel with under 120 g/km CO2 emissions and which handles more like a saloon than a tall MPV will be the bonuses as far as most family buyers are concerned. Prices are not as low as Vauxhalls used to be, and the Tourer is higher upmarket than the Zafira, but in fairness reflect the improved quality evident in the cars and that 100,000 mile warranty.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Strong power from 2-litre turbo-diesel engine means good fuel economy is available with a little self control. The engine provides 221 lbs ft of torque from 1,750 rpm but it starts tailing off at around 4,000 rpm – where maximum power of 128 bhp arrives – so you need to use the six-speed manual gearbox to good effect. This longer, heavier version of the Zafira is so quiet in general that you notice the diesel rattle more than you would in some cars. Sixth gear is so high it is really only used on motorways. From rest to 60 mph takes 10.6 seconds, and it can reach a top speed of 119 mph.
A really pleasant surprise. You would think you were in a low saloon rather than a tall 2,340 kg multi-purpose vehicle. The steering is quick, there's plenty of cornering grip and not much body lean even at speeds that might separate little Johnnie from his breakfast if you are late on the school run. Vauxhall says UK versions have faster steering response and added weighting for increased road feel over 30 mph than European models. Yet at low speeds greater assistance means they are easier to park than left-hand drive models. The clutch was a bit fierce so beware jerky hill starts if you plump for the Elite model which is fitted with an annoying electronic parking brake.
With a nodding facial resemblance to the stylish Ampera electric car, the Zafira Tourer is pretty swish looking for an MPV. Unlike the Meriva with its back hinged side doors, all four side doors on the Zafira open conventionally. The centre row of seats in the improved quality cabin will seat three and each seat folds to create a flat load floor. There is no barrier though to stop goods sliding forwards. The outer seats can be moved inwards if wished, to increase elbow room, if the centre seat is not in use. The rear seats, which fold out of the boot floor, have reasonable space for two children. There are 30 cubbyholes, trays, bins and drinks holders and the boot's a good size with the rear seats folded. I discovered the ease of moving the rear seats searching for a spare wheel after bursting a front tyre. There isn't one and the can of tyre sealant wasn't going to be any help. The total length is 4658 mm and it is 1884 mm wide.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Like all Vauxhalls, the Zafira Tourer is a car you can get into and drive without much effort. The front seats support you well and are easy to adjust along with the steering column and electric door mirrors. Steering, brakes and accelerator are pretty much on the money and narrower windscreen pillars have improved visibility over the previous Zafira.
Some of the satellite navigation functions were a bit hidden but everything else worked well. Driver assistance options include traffic sign recognition, side blind spot warning and park assist which calculates if a parking space is big enough and guides the car into it.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Strong, torquey engine means you don't have to work it hard to achieve normal traffic flow speeds. 'Surf' the wave of torque from 2,000 rpm and, helped by the automatic stop-start system you should get close to the official figures of 53 mpg round town and with care even better the 62.8 mpg combined if you don't have pressing deadlines. The Zafira is backed by a 100,000 mile warranty. Carbon dioxide emissions of 119g/km put this family-sized car in class C for road tax; that means no tax in the first year and then £30 per year.
Available only on the 128 bhp, mid-range version of the 2-litre turbo-diesel engine, ecoFLEX technology includes low friction engine components and an automatic stop-start system that together cut tailpipe emissions to just 119 g/km. This means lower benefit in kind tax liability for company car users. Diesel particulate filter in exhaust system traps sooty particles. Vauxhall says it uses re-cycling design for all its models and has a long tradition of using recycled materials or recyclates. These are always preferred over virgin material where suitable and Vauxhall continues to increase the quantity of recyclates used in the production of its cars. More than 130 plastic recyclate types have been specified and approved for use. Recyclates are used exclusively for wheel arch liners, splash protection, engine covers. Such is the quality of recycled materials they are no longer restricted to hidden parts. The ecoFLEX Zafira model tested has been given a Next Green Car Rating of 35.
One up on the entry-level ES trim, Exclusiv cars benefit from air conditioning, six airbags, cruise control, DAB stereo radio, a multi-function trip computer, steering wheel audio controls, ambience roof lighting, front and rear electric windows, electronic stability control and front and rear parking sensors. Strangely Bluetooth phone connectivity is not available on ES models. It is £220 option on Exclusiv trim versions. Metallic paint is an extra £495. What I would have liked most was a spare wheel.
Model tested: Vauxhall Zafira 2.0CDTi ecoFLEX Tourer Exclusiv
Body-style: Five-door, seven-seat multi-purpose vehicle
Engine/CO2: 128bhp 1956cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel / 119 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Exclusiv, SRi, ES, Elite
On-road price: Zafira range starts at £21,000. Test car £23,950
Warranty: 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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