Vauxhall Zafira MPV
Price £19,120 - £25,520
- Very practical with seven seats
- Big discounts on new cars
- Well built and cheap to run
- Interior feels quite cheap
- Resale values are poor
- Tiny boot with all seven seats in place
At a glance
"The family friendly Vauxhall Zafira is a common sight on UK roads, and with good reason: It's practical, roomy, comfortable and good value."
The Vauxhall Zafira may look pretty uninspiring, but it gets a flexible system for its seven seats and plenty of interior storage areas. The former means that instead of having to remove the two rows of back seats to carry large items, the seats fold flat to reveal a load area that's big enough to rival a van's.
Buyers can choose from five trim levels – Exclusiv, Excite, Design, Exclusiv Nav, and Design Nav – but all models get family friendly features such as reading lights and illuminated mirrors.
The Zafira range offers two petrol engines and two diesel engines. All give a decent mixture of performance and fuel economy, but we think the diesels suit the Zafira best.
In 2012 the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer made its debut – offering more space and more modern looks, in a package that will eventually supersede the standard Zafira you see here. The current car competes with models such as the Toyota Verso and Ford C-MAX, and offers outstanding value for money. Just make sure you haggle a healthy discount off the list price!
MPG, running costs & CO2
The diesel engines are more expensive to buy, but much cheaper to run
The Vauxhall Zafira's diesel engines are the cheapest to run, although they are also more expensive to buy. Vauxhall offers the 108bhp 1.7-litre diesel and the 123bhp 1.7-litre diesel, although they actually return identical economy and emissions figures of 55.4mpg and 134g/km of CO2.
The 1.8-litre petrol versions, meanwhile, come in 118bhp or 138bhp form. They're cheaper to buy but will cost considerably more to run – so unless you cover relatively low mileage, you're best avoiding them. They both manage 39.2mpg fuel economy and emissions of 168g/km of C02.
Interior & comfort
Soft suspension makes long motorway journeys relatively painless
One of the biggest strengths of the Vauxhall Zafira is the car's flexible seating system that allows the middle row of seats to slide forwards and backwards to allow better access to the pair of seats at the back. Passengers in the rearmost seats don’t have as much headroom as those in the front two rows, and the problem is made worse if you go for the panoramic sunroof.
Out on the road, the Zafira's suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps, which makes for a comfortable journey. However, more basic models have a limited amount of seat adjustment, which could make getting comfortable behind the wheel a bit tricky. Also, the Vauxhall's interior doesn’t have the quality feel that you would get in a Volkswagen Touran, for example.
Practicality & boot space
With all the seats folded flat, the Zafira doubles as a removal van
The Vauxhall Zafira is very practical and its Flex7 seating system means it is possible to fold six of the seven seats flat into the floor of the car. Doing that gives you 1,820 litres of carrying capacity to play with, but even with five seats in place the boot is still a thoroughly decent 645 litres.
But, with all the seats up, all you're left with is 140 litres for luggage, although this is often the norm of a seven-seater car of this size. It's also worth noting that the Vauxhall's Flex7 system isn’t as easy to use as those in more modern rivals such as the Mazda5 and Renault Grand Scenic.
The Vauxhall also has plenty of storage areas hidden away in the cabin including map pockets on the back of the front seats, cup holders and door bins, as well as (in top-spec models) storage boxes in the roof of the car and an air-conditioned glovebox to keep drinks cool.
Reliability & safety
The interior is hard wearing and perfect for family use
Vauxhall has become known for below-par build quality and the manufacturer came a poor 26th place in our 2013 Driver Power survey out of 32 rival brands, although it still did better than competitors such as SEAT and Peugeot. The Zafira didn’t do much to disprove Vauxahll's showing, finishing an extremely poor 145th out of 150 cars in our survey's rankings for specific models.
The Vauxhall Zafira was last crash tested in 2005, when it was awarded the full five stars by Euro NCAP. All models get ISOFIX mounts for child seats, front, side and curtain airbags, plus electronic stability control.
Engines, drive & performance
Diesel engines suit the Zafira best with good performance and economy
The soft suspension that makes the Zafira comfortable on long journeys doesn’t harm the Vauxhall too much in the corners, meaning the MPV feels quite car-like to drive.
If you want a decent level of performance, or expect to carry a full load on a regular basis, either of the 1.7-litre diesel engines make for the best choice. The petrol engines, meanwhile, come in 118bhp or 138bhp form, and it is the more powerful version that makes the most sense – given their identical fuel economy.
Price, value for money & options
Massive discounts available on new models, but depreciation is heavy
Even the basic Vauxhall Zafira gets decent levels of equipment for a family car, including air-conditioning, a 12v plug and those clever Flex7 seats. The top-spec Vauxhall Zafira Design model gets climate control, alloy wheels, and sat-nav.
Vauxhall is notorious for giving big discounts, so it's well worth haggling if you do decide to take the plunge and buy a new Zafira. But, bear in mind that the Vauxhall will likely lose its value quicker than its key rivals – meaning you're unlikely to get a particularly good deal when the time comes to sell.
However, that might be less of an issue if you decide to keep the car for all of its 100,000 mile warranty. It's worth noting that this is only available to the first owner, with subsequent drivers limited to the standard three-year warranty.
What the others say
"The interior is also stylish and constructed from materials that feel more expensive than rivals. But there are some ergonomic niggles and the driving position still feels a bit van-like. A-pillars are also thick and cause blind spots. Head, shoulder and knee room are ample and, while access to the rear is tricky, all seats are comfortable. However, the Flex7 folding seat system is looking tired now."
"The Zafira is as roomy as any mid-sized MPV, but it's better to drive than most and comes with lots of airbags as standard. Big discounts, plus the reassurance of a lifetime warranty."
"The original Zafira revolutionised the people carrier market with it's clever seating, spacious interior and plenty of family-friendly features. Vauxhall has carried these strengths on to this model but added sharper styling, improved build quality and refinement too. There are plenty of neat features such as storage boxes in the roof, keyless entry and an optional panoramic glass roof but compared to newer people carrier the Zafira is limited in its flexibility and the once class-leading Flex7 now seems clumsy and awkward."