IF you can assess the comfort of a vehicle by the speed that passengers drift off into the land of nod then Vauxhall is on to a winner with the Zafira Tourer.
Twice in a week my three travelling ‘companions’ were asleep, and in one case snoring, within minutes of the start of the journey.
Comfort is a key factor in any vehicle aimed primarily at families, but the Zafira Tourer, with its new striking face, offers a more complete package. With a move upmarket in the design and use of materials in the cabin, Vauxhall aims to extend the appeal of the Zafira Tourer beyond those looking for a spacious people carrier, to drivers used to a much more luxurious experience.
The test model, powered by a 165 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine complete with stop-start technology, offered huge amounts of pulling power, the ability to cruise effortlessly at the motorway maximum and real-life fuel consumption hovering around the 50mpg mark.
Like its predecessor, the Zafira Tourer’s key attribute is the pair of third-row seats that can be folded down flush with the floor of the luggage compartment. Now the second row has been re-designed so it is no longer a bench, but is made up of three individual reclining seats that can slide independently of each other and can be folded flat, creating an even load floor.
On some models, the three seats in the second row transform into two exceptionally comfortable seats with lots of extra legroom and shoulder space.
The outer seats slide backwards and then slide towards the centre of the cabin. A folding/rotating mechanism then transforms the back of the middle seat into comfortable armrests for the passengers in the outer seats.
Visibility has been improved thanks to a redesigned front layout, with slim A-pillars, sleek B pillars, large side windows and re-positioned door mirrors, while a panoramic windscreen and large glass sunroof are options.
Another option is Vauxhall’s FlexFix bicycle carrier system, capable of carrying two bicycles, that disappears almost invisibly into the rear bumper when not in use.
Since 1999, the two versions of the current Vauxhall Zafira have dominated the compact multi-purpose sector in the UK. Across Europe, 2.2 million have been sold, with almost a quarter of those sales coming from the UK. And there is little sign of that demand waning for last year the Zafira was as popular as ever, commanding the top UK MPV sales slot and earlier this year, it was named Best Multi-Purpose Vehicle at Practical Caravan magazine’s Towcar Awards 2012.
If you are looking for a seriously practical, versatile vehicle that can switch from carrying people to huge amounts of cargo in seconds, then look no further. But be prepared to keep yourself awake on long journeys.
- Price: £24,565
- Insurance group: 19 (1-50)
- Fuel consumption (Combined): 54.3mpg
- Top speed: 129mph
- Length: 465.8cm/183.4in
- Width: 188.4cm/74.2in
- Luggage capacity: 25 cu ft (five seats in place)
- Fuel tank capacity: 58l/12.7 gallons
- CO2 emissions: 137g/km
- Warranty: 100,000 miles