"The interior is highly practical and spacious, so the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer is an attractive option."
In an unusual overlapping of models, the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer isn’t actually a direct replacement for the standard Vauxhall Zafira (well, not yet), but it is a more stylish and upmarket 'alternative'. Think of it more as a rival for the Ford S-MAX. It costs roughly £6,000 more than the standard Zafira, starting at £21,000, and that extra money gets you a much more modern car with more standard equipment. You also get an exterior style in line with Vauxhall's latest models, while the Zafira retains the outmoded previous generation looks. The engine line-up and chassis have been updated for to offer a more stable, involving drive that also has better performance and cheaper running costs. We’d recommend one of the 2.0-litre diesel engines, with the 163bhp engine being particularly effective, because the petrol models are more costly to run. There's even a high performance BiTurbo model, which packs 192bhp and does 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. The Tourer comes in six specifications – entry-level ES, Exclusiv, Tech Line, SRi, SE and top-of-the-range Elite.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
If keeping running costs as low as possible is important to you, then we’d recommend opting for the ecoFLEX model, which emits 119g/km of CO2, while offering 62.8mpg in fuel economy. If you want a bit more performance, the other 2.0-litre CDTi engines – even the beefier 163bhp – are actually relatively cheap to run, returning 52.3mpg. However, while the petrol engines are quieter and smoother, they are more expensive to tax and fuel. It's worth noting that all models come with Vauxhall's innovative lifetime warranty, too.
Interior & comfort
Well, the Zafira Tourer is definitely big. So that means there's plenty of space inside, with some extra flexibility built in thanks to a middle row of seats that can slide backwards and forwards to increase rear legroom or bootspace, depending on your needs. That rear row of seats is really only suitable for children or shorter journeys, however. When you’re on the road, the soft suspension does soak up a lot of bumps and pothole crashes on rough roads, while road, wind and tyre noise is kept fairly low. If you choose to add the optional adaptive dampers, you’ll then be able to choose between Tour, Sport and Normal modes for a softer or stiffer ride.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality is the Zafira Tourer's forte. It has a very spacious interior that can seat seven adults reasonably comfortably, provided you load the shorter passengers in the back row. The seats fold individually and simply, while with five seats in place, you get a massive 710 litres of boot space. This expands to 1,860 litres if you fold down the middle row, too, revealing van-like dimensions and a handly load area. A clever new set-up lets you fold the middle seat in the second row and turn it into an armrest for the two outer passengers, too.
Reliability & safety
Vauxhall took a bit of a tumble in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, falling a hefty 13 places down to 26th in the manufacturers list, which would suggest that the improvements witnessed in the 2012 poll were a temporary blip rather than any concrete upping of reliability. The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer is still too new to feature in the survey itself, but the standard Zafira ranked 145th in the top 150 cars, which is in line with Vauxhall's poor overall performance. Most of the Tourer's components have been proven in other Vauxhalls, however, so should prove reliable, regardless of poll results. The front suspension, 1.4-litre turbo engine and 2.0-litre diesels are used in the Meriva and Insignia, and all the parts have a good reliability record. The Zafira Tourer is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but a five-star rating is likely, thanks to most modern cars now being expected to hit that standard on a regular basis, especially in a potential family car. Electronic stability control, driver, front passenger and curtain airbags are all fitted as standard. Buyers can also add lane-keep assist, forward collision assist and blind spot monitoring as optional extras, too.
Engines, drive & performance
Manufacturers always struggle to build an MPV that has great handling because of the wide, long and high dimensions and necessary ability to carry some weight, but Vauxhall had a good stab. It always feels predictable, stable and secure on the road, with lots of grip and a lot less body roll through the corners than you’d expect, and certainly better than many of its competitors. It's true to say that the Ford S-MAX is more fun to drive, but the Zafira Tourer still exceeds expectations. In a way though, that is damning it with faint praise, because all that really means is that it's an average drive rather a bad one. The diesel engines suit the car the most, particularly the 163bhp 2.0-litre CDTi, and even more powerful 192bhp BiTurbo which are relatively cheap to run but still offer plenty of performance. We’d recommend steering clear of the 1.8-litre 138bhp petrol engine, however, and go for the the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol instead.
Price, value for money & options
Sit inside a Zafira Tourer and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the upmarket interior. There are plenty of soft-touch materials and standard equipment is good, with even entry-level ES cars coming with 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio, cruise control and electric and heated wing mirrors as standard. However, all models trail the Ford S-MAX in terms of kit and value for money. Mid-range Exclusive models add front fog lights, parking sensors, trip computer, USB connectivity, electric rear windows and extra storage cubbies, while Tech Line and above also include sat-nav, and Bluetooth for your mobile phone. The top-spec Elite throws in an anti-dazzle rear-view mirror, electronic climate control, automatic windscreen wipers, heated front seats, and panoramic windscreen and sunroof. Zafira Tourer prices start at about £1,200 less than the Ford S-MAX, but their second-hand resale value on the UK used car market isn't as good.