If you were asked to name a performance car, a Vauxhall MPV is probably among the last things you would think of. Yet the Zafira was one of many Vauxhalls to brandish the venerable VXR badge – and perhaps the most bonkers of them all.
The Zafira VXR was fitted with a twin tailpipe exhaust, bulkier side skirts, 18in alloy wheels, a more imposing black front grille, carbonfibre-effect B-pillars and VXR door sill covers.
The biggest change was located under the bonnet, where you would find the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine as in the Astra VXR hot hatch, producing 237bhp and 236lb ft of torque and driving through a six-speed manual gearbox.
The 0-62mph sprint was over and done with in just 7.2sec and a top speed of 144mph was possible – enough for Vauxhall to claim that it was the fastest MPV in production.
But was it as good to drive as its impressive statistics imply? Its tall frame and high roofline may suggest otherwise, but the Zafira VXR offered vast amounts of grip in the corners and the handling to match. The brakes – huge 321mm front discs with bright-blue calipers – were effective, too.
The ride could be brittle at times, particularly around town, but adaptive dampers made sure motorway driving was a bit more bearable. A Sport mode hardened the ride even further, with the benefit of adding weight to the steering and improving the already sharp throttle response.
The Zafira’s eminent practicality was retained, including Vauxhall’s useful Flex7 seating set-up. The VXR provided 312 litres of boot space, increasing to a van-like 1820 litres with the rear seats folded down flat, and there was just about enough space for seven people.