Not long ago, I wrote a review of the Vauxhall Crossland X (think pyjama mamas). Since then I’ve also spent a week test driving the Vauxhall Zafira. Now I actually used to have a Zafira, but I had one of the old models. A very basic no-frills old model. I wanted to see how different the newer models are. The newer Zafira’s are known as the Zafira Tourer.
As a slightly larger than average family, we need at least one of our cars to be a seven seater and a Zafira is one of the smaller and less expensive seven seaters on the market. I believe the current starting price is around £19,930 for the “Design” model.
The Vauxhall Zafira is not as attractive as the Crossland X, but it’s appearance has definitely improved a great deal since the older versions. For the best model, you are looking at the “Elite Nav” which has a starting price of £26,360 and quickly escalates when you add on extra features. To be honest, once you get up to needing a seven seater, you stop caring about how the car looks. Comfort, space, affordability and practicality become the new priorities in car shopping. Comfort wise, the new Zafira is great. The seats are comfy and the back two fold down very easily if you need them to.
Safety wise, the car has child locks, ISOFIX points (at the sides but not the middle seat) and you can switch the passenger airbag off with your car key, should you need to put a child in the front. The middle seat column does move back and forth a little, if you need more room in the back and less in the middle, or vice versus. The back seats are fixed. This model didn’t have the one touch child lock button though, which I was surprised about. Perhaps it’s an optional extra?
Space wise though, I didn’t find the Zafira very practical. To get my sons pushchair in the car, I had to fold one of the back seats down. If I had five children, this would quickly become an issue. For families with children who no longer need a pushchair, this car would be more appropriate (as long as you don’t want to take a great deal of luggage anywhere or do a big food shop all together). I personally found it too small for my needs, with four children (three in car seats and one with a pushchair). There was nowhere to put any shopping and if we had wanted to go anywhere overnight or for a long day trip, we’d have needed a roof rack and roof box. I can see that for the every day, A to B, school runs, commute to work etc, then the Zafira is an affordable and practical option for families. It’s not the car for me though.
The car benefits from many of the same features as the Crossland X, with the OnStar, WiFi, sat nav, Bluetooth and DAB radio. This particular model has parking sensors, but no parking camera, so I would recommend upgrading to parking camera’s if you were looking to buy any Vauxhall. Whilst I have 13 years driving experience without any parking sensors or cameras, the cameras really do make parking so much quicker and easier.
One of the negatives of the Vauxhall Zafira, is that this car, lacks poke. Even when you switch off eco mode, this car is very slow to pull away and to pick up speed. Slower even than my own car, which is an old 2.9 diesel with engine problems. I’m no speed demon, by any stretch of the imagination, but I would have preferred a slightly faster engine than this one. The benefits of this model though, is that it’s extremely fuel efficient. Switching the car to ECO mode, makes it even moreso. We drove this car around for a week and only used two bars of fuel. Doing the same journey’s in my own car, would have used at least four bars on the fuel gage. Therefore, the Zafira is cost effective, if you want a seven seater, which is not a gas-guzzler and will cost you less in fuel, than most of it’s competitors.
It’s possible, that my criticism of the Zafira is much more harsh, than my criticism of any of the five seater cars I review. This is because I LOVE my own seven seater car and am yet to find any seven seater which meets my expectations. My own car however, is very old and went out of production about five years ago, so I do need to try and be more open minded, for when the day comes that I need to upgrade.
All in all, I found the Zafira very comfortable, easy to drive, easy to park and a great little family runaround. I love all the technology that comes with Vauxhalls now, which makes driving so much more enjoyable. To be honest, I’ve always had a soft spot for Vauxhalls as I learnt to drive in an Astra and a Vectra and my first car, was an Agila. Due to the limited boot space however, I would only recommend the Zafira for families of two or three children (four if they don’t all need car seats), despite it being a seven seater. If all the children are older and only half of them need car seats, then this car would be fine for a family of five children (or a single parent of six). If it’s a small, compact seven seater you are looking for, then this one is probably right for you. Either way, I’d recommend getting a roof rack and box.