Add the word Tourer to a model range and it normally says estate car. Not so for 2012 Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, a larger and more stylish people carrier range.
The existing slab-sided seven seat compact Zafira remains on sale with a reduced line-up of models. The Zafira Tourer is curvaceous, more stylish, better equipped, longer, wider, more expensive and bears the Tourer title to differentiate it from the rather plain and older Zafira.
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Prices for the new Zafira Tourer, which comes with 31 different models starts at £21,000 and rises to £28,465.
The best selling 2.0-litre 130PS turbodiesel Exclusiv version with ecoFLEX start/stop, with a Combined Cycle fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg and with a low 119g/km of CO2 emissions, costs £23,950.
The new range appears in UK showrooms in March but can already be ordered.
There is the choice of 1.4-litre T or 1.8-litre petrol engines, both offering 140PS of power, and three 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines with three power outputs of 110, 130 and 165PS.
A six speed automatic transmission is offered on the 1.4-litre T turbo petrol engine and the top power output diesel engine for an extra £1,000. Trim and equipment levels are ES, the best selling Exclusiv, the sporty SRi, the SE and Elite.
MPVs, or people carriers, are all about packaging with versatile seating and load carrying options, lots of storage space, a wide range of fuel and CO2 efficient engines. Today’s customers, moving from up-upmarket saloons and estates because they need more family or recreational activity carrying space, want the better driveability a car offers, they still want the curvaceous styling and up market interiors but definitely not the looks of a van with windows.
The overall length of the Zafira Tourer is 4,658mm, nearly 200mm more than the Zafira. The width at 2,099mm and height at 1,685mm are marginally more than the second generation model.
With all three rows of seats in use the seven seater Zafira Tourer has minimal boot space, enough for a bit of shopping, but with the rear seats folded and it its most popular used five seat configuration the boot and load space is 710-litres.
With the second and third rows folded there is a huge 1,860-litres of space. There are also endless other storage compartments around the interior.
Access to the second and third rows of seats comes via conventional hinged side rear doors, no useful sliding doors for this newcomer. With the modern narrow width parking spaces sliding doors are much simpler to use.
The reason for not using rear side sliding doors say Vauxhall is due to the extra weight this system would add to the vehicle. The extra weight would increase CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. The forward opening, rear hinged, rear side doors used for the smaller Meriva wouldn’t allow easy enough access to the third row of seats say Vauxhall.
The overall interior look and feel of the Zafira Tourer is definitely a grade or two up from the current Zafira version. It feels roomier, light and airy with the ambience of a large executive family car about it. There is even more versatility as well as high degrees of occupant luxury.
This makes it a very good choice for families with older children or for people who demand the refinement and luxury of an executive car, combined with generous load-carrying capability.
The Flex7 system is core to this vehicle and one of its main selling and talking points. While both the Zafira Tourer’s third row seats can still be folded down flush with the floor of the luggage compartment like its predecessors, engineers have completely re-designed the second row.
No longer a bench seat, it now comprises three individual seats that can slide longitudinally by 210mm (100mm forwards, 110mm backwards) independently of each other and can be folded flat, creating an even load floor. In addition, the backs of the three seats can be reclined in four different positions.
Thanks to the easy-to-reach loop handles that are coloured for better differentiation (red to fold down and black to pull upright), the seat backs can be completely folded down in one simple movement for maximum versatility without having to remove seats or headrests.
A potential highlight for some people of the new Zafira Tourer will be the Lounge Seating system which is standard on the top two levels of specification. This provides second-row passengers with the kind of seating space normally found in a large executive saloon car.
With Lounge Seating the three seats in the second row transform into two comfortable seats with lots of extra legroom and shoulder space. The outer seats slide up to 280 mm backwards, a best-in-class dimension, and 70mm more than in the standard version. They also slide 50mm towards the centre of the cabin, a unique feature in this segment.
A clever and easy-to-operate folding/rotating mechanism then transforms the back of the middle seat into comfortable armrests for the passengers in the outer seats. Vauxhall/Opel has filed for a patent for this system, which is unique in the industry.
But it’s not all about rear passengers. The front occupants will notice an improvement to the front interior.
The Tourer’s cabin is logically arranged and offers a high level of comfort. The twin but slim A-pillars and deep windscreen make it feel light and airy and combined with the large side windows and large door mounted mirrors the driver’s visibility is also improved. The front seats are large, comfortable and very supportive with a good range of a fore and aft adjustment.
Equipment and specification details
Other well thought-out touches are the optional foldable and space-saving luggage compartment FlexCover which can be stored in the rear and creates a level load floor and protects the backs of the seats from dirt. This being an extra cost option is a bit mean and should be fitted as standard.
The innovative FlexRail centre console, first seen in the Meriva, has been further enhanced and gives modular storage system on three levels.
The best selling Exclusiv equipment level includes items like air conditioning, electrically operated windows and door mirrors, on-board computer, cruise control, front fog lights, ambient interior lighting, digital radio and comprehensive sound system, six airbags, electronic stability control, 17-inch wheels and roof rails.
There are numerous options including an upgraded navigation system with traffic alert which costs £855, Bluetooth an extra £220, front and rear parking sensors for £385 and Vauxhall’s FlexRide adjustable damping system, which costs £790.
This item is usually needed on most Vauxhall models fitted with larger than standard wheels to smooth out the ride. But the Zafira Tourer, on its standard 17-inch wheels, coped with our poor road surfaces pretty well without it.
Drive and handling
The steering system has been tuned differently for the UK market from the European settings. The electronic power steering has a different ‘mapping’ which has reduced the strong self-centring characteristic to suit our winding roads. The electronic mapping has allowed for more road feel to be dialled into the system and more speed related weight is added to the steering the faster the car is driven.
For handling, steering feed-back and ride comfort the Zafira Tourer with Exclusiv specification cannot realistically be faulted.
It drives like a high quality saloon or an estate with little body roll, it is very comfortable and the handling is precise. Be warned if you go for the larger 18-inch wheels the ride becomes choppy and fidgety and the FlexRide damping system option should be taken.
The 130PS (129bhp), 300Nm (221lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, turbodiesel engine with the ecoFlex start/stop function will be the best selling unit and the most sensible choice.
All the figures stack up for good fuel economy and low taxes. Officially this unit will return 62.8mpg in the Combined Cycle and my test drive using busy A-roads and winding country lanes returned an impressive 50.9mpg. Still way below the official figure but pretty acceptable.
The reason to choose this ecoFlex unit is because the CO2 emissions are really very low for this size of vehicle at just 119g/km. This means a zero cost First Year road tax charge and then only £30 per annum VED after that. Company car drivers will only be charged the minimum diesel engine rate of 13 per cent. Top speed is 120mph and zero to 62mph takes a competitive 10.6 seconds.
The engine was pretty responsive but full use needs to be made of the six speed manual gearbox at mid range speeds as fifth and sixth gears are overdrive ratios for fuel economy reasons.
In most areas the Zafira Tourer is impressive; premium quality and style, comfort, handling, fuel saving and so on. My only reservations are that it is not as roomy in the rearmost third row as larger MPVs such as the Volkswagen Sharan or Ford S-Max and perhaps existing Zafira customers might be put off by its larger size and price. It is a bit like buying off-the-peg clothes, it falls between medium and large - but if it fits buy it.
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer Exclusiv 2.0-litre 130PS ecoFLEX
Price: £23,950 (Best selling model).
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel, ecoFLEX start/stop, 130PS (129bhp), 300Nm (221lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual.
Performance: 120mph, 0-62mph 10.6 seconds, 62.8mpg Combined Cycle (50.9mpg on test), CO2 119g/km, VED road tax £0 then £30 per annum second year onwards, BIK company car tax 13%.
Insurance group: tbc.
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,658mm, W 2,099mm, H 1,685mm, load space 710 to 1,860-litres, braked towing weight 1,300kg. Seating for up to 7 people in three rows.
For: Classy executive saloon/SUV/estate styling and quality inside and out, light and airy interior, roomy middle and front row seating, comfortable ride on 17-inch wheels, sure footed handling, good steering response and feedback, good fuel economy, low CO2 emissions and road and company car taxes.
Against: Falls between two stools for size, neither a medium or large MPV, more a roomier saloon or estate – hence the Tourer title, cramped rear row leg/headroom.