While SUVs – sport utility vehicles to you and us – seem to be all the rage right now, even among those who will never ever need nor wish to go off-road, those with large families may be better off buying an eminently more spacious and practical MPV – or multi-purpose vehicle – like Vauxhall’s Zafira offering, which comes with seven seats and a variety of seating configurations.
Re-styled at the end of last year, this rather handsome seven-seater people carrier looks more like a stylish jacked-up saloon car than a van with windows than did its predecessors, especially at the front end of the vehicle.
The interior has been revised too. Usefully, all the seats in the second and rear rows fold down flat, though the process of changing the seating configuration is rather fiddly.
There’s a neat dash and a new infotainment system that provides Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectability making built-in sat/nav unnecessary – provided you have a compatible smartphone, though, should you want – while built-in Sat Nav is available as an optional extra on most Zafira models.
There’s a choice between two rather clunky diesels – a 1.6-litre Ecoflex and a 168-bhp two-litre lump – and a 138-bhp turbocharged petrol version that is somewhat lacking in the oomph factor. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but a smooth shifting auto is available as an option on all models.
Over-sized door mirrors earn a plus in the safety stakes but the price you pay for them is rather intrusive wind noise.
Cruise control, a neat infotainment system, DAB radio and air-conditioning come as standard on entry level Design versions, with a user-friendly Sat Nav unit and fog lights added to cars bearing the Energy logo on their rump.
Aimed at business fleet buyers, the CDTi ecoFLex version we borrowed for a week of enjoyable motoring is less expensive but actually offers more kit – with climate control, electric handbrake and automatically operated lights and wipers finding their way onto the spec sheet.
SE versions bring rain-sensing wipers and a more sophisticated seating system into the mix while the sporty SRi has a revised suspension and the top of the range Elite has a panoramic sunroof and hip-hugging leather seats.
Our 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX Tech Line test car is claimed to be good for 62.6 mpg in the combined cycle.
Zafira pices are competitive, ranging from £19,530 to £30,495.
Roger St. Pierre is a seasoned professional travel and motoring writer and editor with over 40 years in the industry and one of our regular contributors.
Photographs courtesy of Vauxhall