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Vauxhall Zafira Tourer SRi 2.0 CDTi Start/Stop

Click to view picture gallery“Vauxhall’s new 7-seat Zafira Tourer
  is ideal for drivers with a need for
  a stylish-looking family troop-carrier.
  Longer, wider, curvaceously smarter
  and better equipped, it
s also, not
  surprisingly, more expensive than
  the plain ‘old
Zafira people carrier...

AS USUAL WITH VAUXHALL motors, there's plenty of variants (currently more than forty!) to choose from within a £21-£29K price bracket: engines can be petrol (1.4-litre turboed or 1.8 normally aspirated) or diesel-drinkers with a choice of 108, 128, and 162bhp 2.0-litre CDTi turbodiesels. A go-faster 192bhp BiTurbo is also available. Trim levels are ES, Exclusiv, Tech Line, Sri, SE and Elite.

Reviewed here is the sporty Sri with 162bhp and Start/Stop. Promising 53.3mpg, it emits 139g/km, accelerates briskly to 60mph on its way to 129mph and costs £25,685.

Anyone considering buying a Zafira Tourer will have been attracted not just by its spruce styling but especially by its cleverly packaged seven-seater versatility.
Up close and personal, these expectations will be more than satisfied; from the front the Tourer certainly stands out, strongly defined by its 'X-Men' nose formed by a pair of long, inward-pointing boomerang-shaped light units and double grille.

With its ‘X-Men’ nose,
formed by a pair of
long, inward-pointing boomerang-shaped light
, the Tourer
certainly stands out
The Tourer's Unique Selling Proposition is without doubt its cunningly configured seven-seat accommodation. At just over 4.6 metres long, it's just eight inches longer than the ordinary Zafira but fits in so much more. The Tourer's secret? It's all in Vauxhall's 'Flex7' packaging…

Access to the middle and third rows is through conventional hinged rear side doors. Yes, sliding rear doors would have been nice but these traditional doors are fine and while wide-opening enough for easy access, they're not so big as to be a hindrance in car parks.

Once inside you'll feel reassured by the smart trim and hi-quality fit and finish of the Tourer's pleasingly executive ambience. All the essential equipment is present and correct along with 30+ storage compartments. And there's much to personalise to your own family's needs, especially the seating which can be arranged in almost as many ways as a Rubik Cube. In fact, most owners will probably never try them all.

The truthfully-named Flex7 seating system offers maximum versatility, whether it's for serious load-lugging or roomy family accommodation. Starting at the tail, the rearmost pair of seats fold down flush with the floor when not required. In this mode you still have five seats available along with a substantial 710-litre boot.

The middle row comprises three individually-sculpted seats that fold completely flat into the floor in just one slick and simple movement with headrests in situ. With the third row already 'magicked' away, the Tourer's loadbay is a load-swallowing and intrusion-free 1,860 litres with a six-by-three-foot-six, totally flat floor area.

And even if all three rows are being used, you can still squeeze a bit of shopping into the 152 litres behind the third row backrests. Loading is a doddle thanks to a low rear bumper and knee-height cargo floor.

“Middle-row travellers
are well pampered, with
backrests that recline
through four different
If just two are sharing, they can each slide back
their outer seat
for limousine-grade
Reaching the rearmost pair of seats is not a problem courtesy of lift-and-tilt second-row outer seats. Once there, the views out are interesting because you sit higher than everybody else; slim adults will fit okay (there's more legroom than in many MPVs) but these last two seats are really best for minors.

Middle-row travellers are well pampered, with backrests that recline through four different positions. If just two are sharing the second row, they can each slide back their outer seat (by as much as 210mm) for limousine-grade legroom as well as converting the vacant centre seat into a pair of long, padded armrests. They also get their own built-in roller-style sunblinds for the side windows.

While all those sitting behind the front pair are well catered for, the driver and his front passenger do particularly well in the comfortable, sportily-sculpted, well-bolstered, multi-adjustable and very supportive front seats — both made even better for long journeys by their extendable under knee support. Generous room in all directions, particularly knee-room, is a given.

A deep windscreen (and no distracting reflections!) with slim twin A-pillars ensures plenty of light as well as providing the driver with A1 visibility. It's good rearwards, too, and the decent-sized door mirrors keep you well aware of what's coming up on motorways.

Thanks to the raised centre console, drivers of all sizes will find the gear lever easily to hand — the six-speeder manual offers two cruising ratios at the top of the 'box; for more proactive driving in the lower gear ranges, it delivers a fluent and accurate change action.

As well as a spot-on driving position, those taking the wheel will also appreciate the sporty three-spoke steering wheel with perforated-leather work areas and plenty of height and reach adjustment, as well as the power-adjustable lumbar support. Adding to driver convenience are steering wheel-mounted controls for cruise, speed limiter, fone and audio. The AirCon is manually controlled but it blasts out a strong stream of chilled air on demand (as well as plenty of hot for the winter months).

“Under the bonnet is a
162bhp CDTi turbodiesel.
This is the engine
to go for if you want a
generous serving
of torque.
Top speed is 129mph
with 0-60mph served up
in 9.1 seconds
Other likeable touches include the hooded SatNav, easy-read white-on-black instruments with chunky chrome bezels, front and rear parking sensors, the tastefully appointed cabin, and (a real boon on rain-swept roads) wipers that wipe (and quietly!) from both outer corners to clean virtually all of the windscreen.

Under the bonnet of our Tourer was Vauxhall's 162bhp CDTi turbodiesel. Lesser outputs are available, but this is the one to go for if you want a generous serving of torque: a hefty 258lb ft between 1,750 and 2,500rpm. Top speed is 129mph with zero to 60mph coming up in a competitive 9.1 seconds.

On the road there's more than enough 'grunt' to pull this big front-wheel drive people carrier along with an eagerness that makes light work of all journeys — its ample sufficiency of in-gear poke should satisfy whether the driver's just off to the shops or moving 'the tribe' smoothly across country to a holiday destination.

Not only that, it manages to do this without quaffing much fuel: officially, this 162bhp unit averages 53.3mpg, aided by a fairly unobtrusive Start/Stop system active from starting — however, a touch on the 'Eco' button lets you turn it off whenever you want.

So what did we average? Regular visitors will know that we don't try to get the best mpg from our test cars, but drive them like they'll be driven in the real world by real drivers. Which means the 44.9mpg we achieved during a week of hard driving should be the very least that owners can expect. Not bad.

Unlike many MPVs and people carriers, the Tourer takes the 'charabanc' out of familial ferrying duties — it's genuinely enjoyable to drive. Not least because it handles: body roll is well checked with flat cornering the order of the day; and, tuned specifically for UK roads, the electronic power steering is responsive and delivers decent feedback, its weighting increasing to match road speed. The result is a refined and sure-footed people carrier that drives much like an executive saloon or estate.

“The 44.9mpg we
achieved during a week
of hard driving
should be the very least
owners can expect
Plus it does so with a pleasantly forgiving ride that, to paraphrase Yogi Bear, is better than the average PC! Even on stand-out 18-inch alloy wheels (wrapped in 235/45 Bridgestone rubber) the Tourer soaks up the worst of it.

Just to be sure, especially if you're specifying larger than standard wheels, you can always tick the box for Vauxhall's optional FlexRide adaptive damping system.

Versatile? In a word, Very. The new Tourer's Flex7 seating system makes switching between multi-seating layouts a breeze. It's also easy to place, park, and punt down twisty lanes, and a pleasure to drive or be driven in.

This bigger, bolder Zafira offers accessible practicality and usable performance conveniently wrapped up in one smart and very agreeable package. It's almost enough to make you want children!

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer SRi 2.0 CDTi Start/Stop
| £25,685
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-60mph: 9.1 seconds | Overall test MPG: 44.9mpg
Power: 162bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2 139g/km