I have recently purchased a second hand Vauxhall Zafira to replace my small Saxo as we went from 1 to 2 kids, and decided we really needed extra space! The model I have is the "comfort" diesel turbo injection, 2 litre engine. It has 7 seats, 2 of which can be laid down into the floor of the boot to make the boot space extra large.
The seats, as suggested in the name of the car, are very comfortable - the driver seat can be adjusted up and down as well as all the usual adjustments you would expect to be able to make. The steering well can also be adjusted up and down to suit people of different heights, which has been great for me as I like the steering wheel quite low.
The turbo injection makes travelling up hills a breeze, and as long as you are hitting a minimum of 1800 revs then you'll zoom onwards with the turbo, without having to change down usually. The tank takes 56 litres of diesel, and the car is quite economical meaning you can get at least 500 miles to a tank of fuel (great at the prices these days!), probably more with more careful driving.
The car comes with air con, electric windows, and wheel stereo controls. The windscreen is lovely and large, meaning a large viewable area, and there are 2 small side windows in front of the driver and passenger which help to remove the blindspot somewhat.
The best bit about the car, aside from being so roomy and comfy inside, is that it really isn't that big for what you get! Yes, it's an MPV but driving it you wouldn't really know it.
The last time my company car came up for review, I had to find a vehicle that would still assist me to do my job (IT Field Support), but also able to carry my family of five kids. After carefully looking into price, features and versatility the Zafira came out as a clear winner, here is why. Price The Zafira range starts at under £13,000, which for an MPV is amazingly good value within itself, but when you include things like air-con as standard it is even better. The model I chose was the 'Comfort 2.0Dti 16v,' which was £16,500 at the time, but can now be picked up for about £1000 cheaper. The main reason that the car is cheaper is that the basic design is based around the existing Astra range, so it did not need to be designed from scratch. Features on this model 'Flex-7' seating, which allows you to convert the car from a 1-seater to 2-seater to 5-seater to 7-seater, or just about any combination in between with the minimum of fuss. This admittedly was one of the biggest selling point for me as I need to carry fair size loads at a moments notice and with most other models I looked at, this would require removing seats and storing them away. With the 'Flex-7' system the two rear seats simply fold into the boot, with the backs creating the boot floor, with the compromise being that the spare tyre is stored underneath the vehicle. The middle seat can either be folded forward like a standard car in split 60/40 or the seat section can be folded upwards and the seat pushed forward on its runners against the front seats. There is also a centre hole through the middle seat to allow long items like Ski's or fishing rods to be laid through the length of the car. There are two drawbacks to this type of seating system, the first being that the two back seats do not have much depth from seat to floor, so they are really only suitable for children up to around 11-12 years old. Adults can be seated in the rear seat
s but it would be uncomfortable for a long journey. The second disadvantage is that when using all seven seats there is virtually no loading capacity, so it would be wise to invest in either a roof box (this car will take most of the larger ones) or a trailer to carry larger loads at full capacity. Electronic ABS or Anti-locking brake system, which will basically stop the car from skidding whilst braking hard and also more control over the car at the same time. This is an invaluable system if you are carrying loads or a large family as the extra weight can cause a vehicle to be harder to control in a skid, so the extra control that the ABS affords (which I have had to put into practice once) is very welcome. Air Conditioning. This is not strictly true, as it is a cool air system with no direct control over the temperature, but none the less it is very welcome on those hot summer days (when we get them in Britain). Remote central deadlocking. By clicking the lock function on the remote key fob once, the car will be locked and the alarm set (if fitted). By clicking the lock function for the second time you will engage the cars deadlocks which will stop thieves from using tools to raise the locks or unlocking the car by smashing a window and trying to pull the locks up. The car also has a steering and ignition lock which can be engaged by moving the steering wheel once the ignition key has been removed and can only be disengaged by inserting the ignition key and wiggling the wheel during the ignition function. Stereo radio/cassette with eight speakers, which is a little disappointing these days with so many cars coming with CD as standard. The basic controls for the radio/cassette (volume, radio search & cassette to radio switch) are also mounted on the steering wheel, which means that you do not need to remove your gaze from the road to perform these functions. The driver's seat has both manual height/reach/back tilt ad
justment and lumbar support. Again the lumbar support has been invaluable to me as I can do anywhere between 200-400 miles in a day, which used to play havoc with my back by the end of every week. Electro-hydraulic power steering, which means that even though you are driving an estate sized car the turning circle and road handling feels like that of a much smaller vehicle. In Use In use this car is very smooth to drive and versatile in its functionality. The engine, being a diesel creates a little more noise than its petrol counterparts but is a lot quieter than the Vectra I had previously, which is surprising as in the Zafira, you are virtually sitting on top of the engine. The first thing that hits you when you sit in the car is that you are sitting a lot higher than normal, sort of midway between a standard saloon and a transit van, which takes a little getting used to but you soon forget about it. This, along with the larger than normal windscreen does have the advantage of offering slightly better forward visibility whilst driving. The windscreen is larger due to the shallow angle at which it slants down the front of the car, which gives two advantages but one serious disadvantage. The advantages are better visibility (as above) and debris seems to bounce off better without causing damage to the screen. The disadvantage is that the forward struts are of course extended with the screen and cut down visibility to the left and right when turning at junctions. Fuel consumption is very good, on a full tank (55 Litres) I can get about 450 miles on average, sometimes more or less depending on road type, speed and use of the air-con (which can dramatically increase consumption). One of the other major reasons I chose this particular model was that the emissions are the second lowest on the government list for the new tax rules on company cars, which could save you a lot of money in the long run. Internally, for the
passengers, the Zafira is like a Tardis. The seating is firm and comfortable in transit, with three point belts all the way through, apart from the centre/middle seat which is lap belt only. The glove box is not massive but double foot-well boxes back it up on the driver and passenger side (one attached to the door, the other attached to the seat). There are foot-well boxes on each centre passenger door and inset shelves with drinks holder for the rear two passengers. There are also drinks holders in the centre panel section in the front, unless you have taken the route finder option, where the screen replaces these. The load capacity of this car with just a single driver and all seats put away is great, being around twice that of the Vectra estate I had previously. I could previously carry three full computer systems with printers and network hardware, only if I unboxed the whole lot first. I can now load the same amount of equipment whilst left in their boxes and still have space to spare, which means my equipment is a lot more secure and less prone to damage. Overall, this is an amazing vehicle, mainly for those who would like to combine the comfort of a family car with the capacity and versatility of a small van.