19 February 2004

Take a good look at the next-generation Zafira. It’s the car that Vauxhall believes could knock Citroën’s best-selling Picasso off the top of the compact MPV charts and account for nearly half of all Astra sales worldwide when it goes on sale in autumn 2005.

Above is the world’s first photograph of a production-ready car winter testing in Sweden. The resemblance between the newcomer and the Astra hatchback due out in May can be seen in the front view (pictured).

Vauxhall’s distinctive new corporate face is joined by a steeply angled windscreen and stretched side glass, establishing a light and airy MPV stance. The rear, meanwhile, has a more pronounced ‘step’ (suggesting more headroom for those in the rear), narrow vertical tail lights and a low load sill.

Like the Ford C-Max and VW Touran, only one version will be offered. The Zafira will share the same extended wheelbase as the forthcoming Astra estate and will get a revised Flex-7 seating system which promises to deliver even greater levels of interior versatility and passenger space.Prices will start at around £15,000 for the 1.6-litre Life. Other engines include 1.8-litre petrol, 170bhp and 200bhp 2.0 low-pressure turbo, along with two 1.7 CDTi engines and a new 150bhp 1.9 oil burner, topped by a new 240bhp GSi model.

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