The Opel Zafira Tourer went on sale in late 2011 as an addition to the Opel family, rather than a replacement for the existing Zafira.
That remains on sale as a cheaper, smaller MPV, albeit in facelifted form. DTW gained access to a Zafira Tourer Ecoflex, with a 2.0 diesel engine fitted with stop/start technology. Read on for a short review…The Zafira does such a good job it is hard to write about the car´s demerits without seeming to make too much of rather small details. All the good points can fly past unnoticed since getting it right is often just a way to go unnoticed.
From the outside, the Zafira makes a good case for the MPV format. It hasa pleasingly styled shape with enough chrome to lift it out of the background but not so much as to alarm anyone with anti-brightwork opinions. The waistline rises very gently and there is a small flick upwards where the d-pillar rises from the bodyside. It´s subtle and just expressive enough.
Opel have sprayed the car with a fine, deep, glossy paint too (an initiative of Bob Lutz, I believe). It looks expensive. Inside one finds top quality plastics have been nicely put together into shapes of some taste and restraint. Again, the car suggests it can provide quite a good deal of pampering.
The dash-top is simply huge but it forms a pleasant landscape where the assembly methods and aesthetics are in harmony. I must admit I liked the effect of all that dashboard spreading forward, with the engine somewhere underneath. And the twin a-pillars also looked agreeable, with a handy extra bit of glazing in between the pillars to help the view out. I don´t know if Opel wanted this effect. That it is there added to the car´s attractions in a hard-to-describe way. Perhaps it might be the way it created an aeroplane-on-wheels sensation as the vehicle glided forward on its way. It created a sense of well-being which I feel I must report.
I only wish these cars were not compelled to be so grey inside. The feel of the seats, the restfully low-levels of noise and the general high quality of the materials are calling for some fabrics more cossetting than a high-Martindale grey cloth. The ride quality is also on the limousine-y side, with a smooth character that suggests the Zafira is a kind of wheel-less landspeeder. I really wanted to be seated on velour in a rich burgundy or dark,dark blue with complimentary trim colours. You can see an optional interior colour scheme below. It ought to be standard and people should be made to pay extra for boring grey cloth.
A consequence of the Zafira´s huge interior space (see the depth of the sills) is that it is a car to drive carefully on smaller roads. There´s no point complaining about the body roll: it is a consequence of the height and weight of the car plus the reasonable bias towards comfort.
The test route featured about 60 km of narrow country roads and the best way to handle these was to brake on entering the corner and to accelerate out. On motorways and around town the suspension smothered bumps and shocks well. Perhaps one heard them more than felt them. That said, you could easily drive this vehicle a very long way without fatigue setting in. Engine noise did not intrude and the sound system made good sounds. I really liked the character of the ride as it seemed Citroenesque in its waftiness. Again, points scored, Zafira.
Performance from the 2.0 diesel engine proved satisfactory. We hurried along at just under a hundred on the motorway and nobody noticed. The engine could also haul the Zafira´s bulk from rest with ease and little drama; no torque steer could be detected under acceleration at the traffic lights and junctions.
Outward visibility deserves praise. It has a good view out and was surprisingly easy to park given the outer extremities were not visible. One senses where they are with a high level of confidence.
Can the car carry stuff? Yes, it can. The collapsible pushchair went in without requiring the seat to be removed and flattened. This was great for a day trip where lots of things could be thrown in without recourse to careful packing. The load bay has a maximum of 1860 litres of capacity. The Opel website does not list the boot volume with the seats up, but a range: 152 to 1860 litres. Carbuyer.uk claims the boot has 710 litres with the seats up.
The rear seats fold down separately offering more option for luggage-passenger combinations. A nice touch is that there are little bins moulded into the trim near the D-pillar. That costs money to do. Alas, someone forgot to put a light in the boot though there is one over head in the headliner, making three over head lights in all. I still think side lights in a boot are a good thing. Maybe they were there but they didn´t turn on for me.
Finally, the oddities and demerits. I don’t understand the weird rubbery material the central dashboard vents are made of. You press the tab to change the air direction and the vents bend a lot before moving. I don´t see why this wasn´t rectified inside six months. It spoils an otherwise very dashboard. They look fine but the rubbery action is annoying and pointless.
The Zafira Tourer has conventional, not sliding doors. For some this might be a deal breaker. However, the car costs less than the Ford S-Max which doesn´t have sliding doors either. And the Grand C-Max costs less, has the sliders but is a class down. Hmmm. I didn´t find the doors a problem. I would call them nice to have but not important. My personal car is a saloon with ordinary doors and I don´t feel I have much difficulty cramming the kids into the back when about to drive them somewhere.
The fan speed control (shown above) has a small and a smaller button indicating more or less throughput. The two symbols were not clearly different from one another. And the seat belt indicator symbols stayed on for several minutes for no reason, and this meant all the other information (odo and trip readings) could not be read. The graphics themselves seemed very pixelated, more 2006 than 2011. Apart from that, Opel have offered a jolly nice IP. Inside the needle for the speedo is fibre-optic light which casts a nice little red glow over the number it is pointing at. This is not necessary but a very nice touch, adding to what is a very likeable instrument display.
Regular readers will know I have an armrest fetish. There is no rear centre armrest in this version of the Zafira which really spoils the long-distance touring (!) appeal of the car for me. I am aware that many customers will have two or even three child-seats in the back and so a centre armrest would seldom see service. But for those people who might consider this as a very useful alternative to a saloon, the prospect of sitting with an arm unsupported from Liege to Lisbon is unwelcome. To make up for this the rear has a commendable amount of legroom, pockets behind the front seats, nicely sculpted doors and air vents in the b-pillars.
The Zafira consumed diesel at the rate of 49.6 miles per gallon. That means with its 12.8 gallon tank you will have to stop once to refuel on your trip from Calais to Cap Ferrat, just one hundred miles shy of the coast.
In conclusion, the Zafira has a lot of excellent qualities: design, comfort, utility, economy and ride quality. The demerits were trivial (the arm-rest is the most annoying). The Zafira really ought to be on everyones´s shopping list if they want an MPV that gets on with its MPV duties in as determined a fashion as this car does.