Review: Vauxhall Zafira

The Zafira offers outstanding all-round value

08 Sep 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Very spacious

  • Prided on safety

  • Comfortable interior

Cons

  • Very common vehicle

  • Third row seating is cramped

  • Not the most exciting video

Our expert rating

The Vauxhall Zafira is a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) which has been around since 1999. In 2011 Vauxhall ushered in an estate version, known as the Zafira Tourer.

Performance

The vast Vauxhall holds good driver appeal. This is especially the case with the 2.0 turbocharged diesel. Go for this version and you will discover the MPV is no slowcoach. It has plenty of shove and will hoover up the miles effortlessly.

Ride and handling

The 2011 onwards car is best because its chassis uses key components from the well-liked executive-cum-family Vauxhall Insignia. This gives the Zafira outstanding dynamics, while offering better ride comfort than ever. There is very little body roll and strong grip when negotiating snaking roads, while the steering has a precise and direct feel.

Vauxhall Zafira side

Interior space

The Zafira is the perfect vehicle for a large family’s needs. The Tourer is positioned above the regular Zafira model in Vauxhall’s line-up, and raises the bar for design, luxury, flexibility and innovation.

Enhanced material quality and an awesomely airy cabin further mark out the Zafira Tourer from its more modest sibling. The car uses “Flex7 seating”, which set new standards for seven-seat integration in the original 1999 Zafira. However, in the Tourer it offers improved levels of flexibility, innovation and comfort for seven people.

The two third-row seats fold down flat into the boot floor when they are not required, while the middle-row seats can be folded and shoved up against the front seats. Unsurprisingly, the Tourer’s load area is immense when the extra rear seats are not in use, and still acceptable with the spare seats occupied.

So, when it comes to Christmas, for example, this isn’t a bad choice of car for packing your gifts, and the turkey, into.

Vauxhall Zafira interior

What to know before you buy

The Vauxhall Zafira has a good history of dependability, but there are a few faults that keep cropping up. The tailgate latch can stop working, causing it to stay shut. The air-conditioning system can also fail. You can check this by making sure it blows icy air and if it clears condensation from your test car’s windscreen.

More trivially, the stereo has been known to go on the blink. Test it by switching it on and blast some quick tunes to ensure all is well.

Alas, older, diesel-powered Zafiras can prove especially awkward due to turbo malfunctions. You can tell the turbo has gone wrong if you notice that your intended buy is accelerating slowly or if there is blue or grey smoke coming from the exhaust.

Vauxhall Zafira driving

Often, a failing turbocharger will make a loud noise when under boost. It may sound a bit like a drill or a siren. If you start to hear this racket from the engine, walk away.

Alternative cars

Car competition includes the more expensive Volkswagen Touran and the slightly dull but worthy and reliable Toyota Verso. None can beat the cheap servicing costs of the Vauxhall Zafira, though.

Vauxhall Zafira and Volkswagen Touran

Overall verdict

If you have children, safety will be at the forefront of your mind when motoring. That is why Vauxhall has placed a large amount of emphasis on protection in the Zafira, with a glut of driver-assist systems to look after you and your passengers.

Traffic Sign Recognition, Side Blind Spot Alert and Advance Park Assist – which helps you find an adequate parking space and guides you into it – are among the features for models from 2011 onwards.

All in all, the Zafira offers outstanding all-round value, and is a really decent, cheap to run tool for the family. What’s more, there are thousands available on the secondhand market.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall