What is it?
It’s the low emissions version of Vauxhall’s seven-seat people carrier, the Zafira. Powered by the same 1.7-litre diesel that you’ll find in the Astra Ecoflex, it emits 139g/km of carbon dioxide, does 53.3mpg, and costs just £120 a year to tax.
More interesting is what this car isn’t though because, although Vauxhall probably doesn’t want you to read this, its new Eco-Zafira isn’t quite the lowest carbon or most frugal seven-seater on the market.
Bonus anorak points go to anyone who knows that it’s Renault’s 1.5-litre Grand Scenic dCi that bests it, with a claimed 55.4mpg on the combined cycle, and putting out just 135g/km.
What’s it like?
Very much like a car in need of more grunt, a shorter gearset and an end-of-life cabin refresh.
This Zafira’s 108bhp peak power output and 191lb ft allotment of torque are actually both more generous than the equivalents of the aforementioned Renault and of VW’s Touran Bluemotion. Which just proves that you’ll have to be fully committed to economic motoring to accept the compromised performance of a car like this.
Vauxhall hasn’t just slotted a smaller capacity diesel into this car than any other Zafira gets, it’s also lengthened the car’s final drive ratio with the aim of boosting fuel economy. What that means on the road is that 62mph takes almost 13secs to arrive.
Escaping 3rd gear on a long, fairly steep incline requires an investment of considerable effort, commitment and faith. What’s more, we drove the car ‘one-up’; driving one fully loaded with occupants would definitely require a patient disposition.
At least it’s easy to lower and raise the ‘Flex-7’ seats. But while the rest of cabin is as robust and functional as it’s been since we first saw the car in 2004, you have to concede that it’s looking a bit drab and ordinary relative to the more modern and interesting interiors of the Citroen C4 Picasso and the updated Grand Scenic.
When the soon-to-arrive new Astra comes on stream, it’ll look even more outmoded.
Should I buy one?
Without wishing to put too fine a point on it, no. Getting 53mpg out of a car this size is no mean achievement for GM Europe, but while there’s a Renault Grand Scenic that’s cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, just as roomy and versatile and generally more desirable than this, you struggle to build a case for the ageing Vauxhall.
Because even those who don’t care about the paltry performance of their people carrier are best advised to look elsewhere.