Review 2016 Vauxhall Zafira elite, 1.6 ecoflex with stop start.

At the bottom of the page are links to Vauxhall’s configurator and to the pictures of the Car

So this week I have been in Scotland and it has been a fantastic getaway from the south, with varying weather, signal and all the holiday fun from going away. However a part of this has been having a hire car for the week. It has given me the opportunity to look at something brand new and see what it offers. For those of you who haven’t read the title it is of course the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. This is a car I have been a fan of for a while. A few years back my mum had one of the Mark 1’s, which proved itself a competent replacement for the dying Toyota Starlet. I have also known many a family to have a Zafira but this week was my first time in a brand new one. Furthermore it has been a test of a 7 seater MPV designed for families, in use with 6 adults.

One of the main reasons for buying an MPV has to be space; you’re not going to be buying one of these without wanting the space and seats it can offer you.  As luggage capacity goes the boot is a good size and would certainly take the luggage required. However the slight problem with this is the reduction in boot space if, like us you require the use of a boot seat, then this space is dramatically reduced. 6 rucksacks and 3 suitcases mean putting luggage between people’s legs and a slightly less comfortable journey. If you were going away as a family of four you would be ok, but with the addition of more people it would mean looking at a roof box or second car. Overall then your choice is between humans or luggage. However if you select humans over luggage it’s a good option, you will want to put a smaller person in the boot seat as leg space is limited. Even though the middle seats individually slide forward you are pushed up against the roof and leg room is on the small side. For the taller passenger the front would provide the best option. If your driver is on the small side this has an advantage in giving leg room to the middle and rear passengers. However the driver’s seat could do with being able to go slightly higher. The middle row of seats will easily accommodate 3 fully grown adults with comfort.  The overall impression of the cabin was that it will give you plenty of options and arrangements for this type of vehicle. Compared to its rivals such as the Citroen C4 Picasso or Ford S max it isn’t quite as big.

The ride quality is semi dependent upon the amount of people and luggage within the car and your seating location. If you’re in the boot, I wouldn’t go there if you’re prone to travel sickness, partly because you can’t see around as much but it’s a bit bumpier as it is over the rear axle. Compared to previous generations of Zafira’s it feels less van like and more like a car. My slight gripe is that the Diesel engine can be a bit van-like when accelerating, but apart from that it’s hard to know it is a diesel. On roads between 30-60 mph we have been averaging around 50-52 mpg so it’s not the best, but we did we usually had a car full of 6 adults. Frustratingly we didn’t manage to get near Vauxhall’s claimed mph of 60-70 mpg. If Vauxhall want to improve their car this is a key area to look at.

Whilst looking at the interior, it is worth pointing out we had the black leather seats which come as standard, a feature not usually found on this type of car for standard. The car boasts having built in Wi-Fi and Sat-Nav, features we didn’t use as they would have cost extra on our particular hire. The stereo didn’t seem too bad but wasn’t tested so it is hard to say on that front. While these are all great features, they come with a large screen on the top of the dash board which can’t be folded down. I’d personally prefer a system that can be pushed down when not in use. Whilst we are on this area, the controls for this system are really clearly laid out and separate to the car controls, it is a well thought-out layout.  If you want a more hi-tec or show off system the Ford S Max and Citroen C4 Picasso have touch screen, personally I think the layout of the Vauxhall means there is no need for touch screen, but this would require comparative looks at all three and their functionality.

Driver aids and features fitted on this particular car include rear and front parking sensors, which have been fitted to previous generation Zafira’s. They do get a bit annoying when on roads in first gear where you have had to slow down and they start beeping. Apart from that they work pretty well, for a car of this size they can be a real benefit especially as our car was a hire car and will be driven by a lot of different people.  The car also has stop start on it, which is meant to save fuel however based on the mpg figures we got and the claimed mpg I’m not sure this really did anything apart from confuse us. A feature on this car I think is a bad one is the electronic parking brake. Rather than a conventional hand brake fitted to a car this is a button which you press. Whilst it does seem to have some sort of hill assist mode on it, it can be confusing to get used to.  Realistically there was no need to replace a conventional handbrake system; there isn’t anything wrong with a conventional set up. I’m not saying this because I want to do handbrake turns but it seems daft to mess with key driver controls that work. Having said that it does work and once it has been used for a while you get used to it.  The first generation Zafira had massive blind spots and these could prove problematic, particularly with children, you want the most amount of visibility in the car as possible. The large windows and side windows between the front doors and windscreen seems to have dealt with some of the problem.

What’s it like to drive?

Unfortunately due to insurance costs on hire cars I wasn’t in a position to drive the car, however having discussed this with the main driver this is what I can report back: the steering is good and the car holds roads position well and grips well around the corners. For a large car it doesn’t get blown around in high winds and is very stable with limited body role. The brakes are really good (disc brakes all round), however the electronic handbrake takes some getting used to and can be confusing as to if is on or off.  Additionally blind spots on this car are slightly problematic and the pillars between the driver’s cabin and middle row of seats do prevent visibility when pulling out.

How does it compare to rivals?

The ford S max and Citroen C4 Picasso offer similar deals but with differences including electronic folding seats (S max) or electronic folding tailgate. Realistically the S Max is slightly more expensive and same with the Citroen when specked to similar levels. If based on practicality the Citroen offers more space. If you were to use one for transporting adults around, as a luxury carrier the S max is a good option. The Zafira is a good compromise between the two and would provide you with a long term investment as a family car.

Would I buy one?

If I was looking for a family car that I could use daily and transport adults around in when required it would be a good option. The only thing I would want to change would be an engine with better mpg. Normally I’d opt for a slightly more powerful engine but for this type of car it’s just not needed. There used to be a VXR version which kept the petrol head happy and still take the kids around in practicality. Finally though, one area in which I think this car excels is looks- it has come a long way from the mark 1 Zafira. If you had to go to a business meeting, take the kids to football or take out friends it looks good. The old image of MPV’s and people carriers as vans with seats is gone, good job Vauxhall.

For the pictures,click here and look at albumszaf blog


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