Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer sponsors Biggles Biplane  photographed with 1914 D-Type Staff Car-544911

By Tim Saunders

It is still possible to be surprised by car design.

As I glance at the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer I notice that there is something a little different about the rear bumper and it’s not because I’ve reversed into something… In the centre it looks to me as if it can be pushed to reveal a step, such as you might find on a conversion for a disabled motorist. It is only when I lift the boot lid that I notice a lever and wondering what it does, I pull it. This releases the Flex-Fix integrated bike carrier – what a clever idea. I can honestly say that I have never come across a vehicle with such a facility. This is a gadget that I’d expect Q in the James Bond films to dream up. It’s certainly not a gimmick either because I can see how the active family that would typically purchase this vehicle would want to transport their bicycles when they go away on an adventure. And this for me gives the Zafira another dimension from other people movers.

This third generation revamp looks slick and appealing from the outside and the bright red finish of the test model certainly does stand out.

It is also surprising that despite being a sizeable seven-seater it feels small to drive. If there is difficulty reversing a helpful camera automatically appears in the central display together with helpful beeps that sound when manoeuvring into a tight gap.

The third row of seats is nestled underneath the boot and put into position by simply pulling a loop on the back. It’s a comfortable vehicle with plenty of room. That boot is large enough to accommodate a variety of paint tins and other rubbish including a large gas bottle that needs taking to the tip.

When the doors are opened at night the interior is lit up with red lights that are incorporated into the trim, making it feel quite spaceship-like.

For a people mover it’s fast, hitting 60mph from standstill in under 11 seconds and it will almost return 70mpg; which means that it is possible to travel 150 miles without even using an eighth of a tank. There is engine stop/start, which although I am used to this these days does perplex me a little. The Zafira has a low bite on the clutch making me wonder whether I have stalled the vehicle. Another issue is the electric handbrake; of which I am not a great fan. You see there’s an automatic hill brake that the driver must put their trust in and I find this difficult. No sooner has the accelerator been pushed and the brake releases and as a result I find myself over revving, which isn’t ideal for economy.

Its six speed manual box is generally smooth to use and cruise control is always helpful for long motorway journeys.

The high up driving position gives the driver a good view of the road ahead.

Parkers, the car experts, say: “Vauxhall has always made some bold claims around inventing the compact people carrier with the original Zafira. While this may be the case, the introduction of cars like the Renault Grand Scenic and Ford Grand C-MAX meant that the Zafira has found itself lagging behind the competition in both style and substance. The manufacturer, however, has slowly been catching up with the competition and with the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer the company looks to have stepped up to the challenge again with a better quality product. It has grown a little and will go head to head with the Grand C-MAX, as well as the larger S-MAX.”

Overall, an MPV-beater that will meet family demands.

Vauxhall Zafira TourerMPV 2 0 Cdti 130 Se 5dr

Price: £25,520

Top speed: 120mph

0-60mph: 10.6secs

Power: 128bhp

Economy: up to 68.9mpg

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