Zafira’s economy of effort

Vauxhall ZafiraTourer
Vauxhall ZafiraTourer
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If you want a seven-seat MPV, it’s hard to do a lot better than the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. If you’ve already extended yourself to buy one, many will see the sense in opting for its most economical engine, the 1.6 CDTi diesel powerplant.

With 136PS of power and a healthy 320Nm of torque, it’s far from underpowered. In fact, this is where the smart money goes.

To give you an idea of how punchy this tiny diesel is, when the Zafira Tourer was first launched, it came with three versions of a 2.0-litre diesel, rated at 110, 130 and 165PS. This 1.6-litre diesel is more powerful than all but the range-topping version and this translates into some sparky performance figures. Granted, you probably don’t buy a seven-seat MPV to indulge in Le Mans starts, but a sprint to 62mph in just 10.4 seconds demonstrates that this Zafira has a bit about it. Or to put it in more relevant terms, it won’t leave your family ashen-faced when you go to overtake a dawdling caravan.

The Zafira Tourer has a clever suspension system, using the same strut front mounted on a separate subframe as the Insignia. The rear end doesn’t feature a multi-link arrangement, Vauxhall rightly reasoning that this adds bulk and cost where it’s not required but features a neat Watts link arrangement. Building on the chassis’ dynamic prowess is the option of Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive damping system. This automatically adapts the car’s damping to suit road conditions, cornering speed, vehicle movements and an individual’s driving style.

The Zafira Tourer is a smart looking piece of design, the flanks featuring deep twin swage lines that are about as far from the archetypal slab-sided minivan look as it’s possible to get. When combined with the voluptuous wheel arches and the headlamps that merge seamlessly into the driving lamps and intakes to form a characteristic arrowhead, it’s clear that the Zafira Tourer is one that will appeal to the aesthete.

With seating for seven, the entire third row can be folded flush with the floor of the luggage area, but rather than being a bench, the second row instead comprises three separate seats that can be folded and moved fore and aft through 210mm, giving third-row passengers the potential of extra room compared with the outgoing Zafira.

We’ve gone on record before proclaiming the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer to be the pick of the mid-sized seven-seat MPVs and nothing that’s been launched since has caused us to revise that verdict. In fact, the unveiling of this clean 1.6-litre CDTI diesel engine only underscores our opinion that the Zafira remains the go-to pick. Vauxhall’s problem may well be that it has developed an engine here that’s too competent for its own good. After all, if you can get an engine that develops 320Nm of torque yet can still return 68.9mpg, why bother looking beyond it?

That may well be a General Motors problem but it certainly isn’t yours. If you were wavering over your MPV purchase, this latest Zafira Tourer should really make the decision simple.