It would be fair to say that nobody has a burning desire to buy an MPV these days. It is a car you don’t want but might very well need. There is, however, a way to make the ordeal a lot more palatable if you’re an enthusiast: buy one that’s been fitted with the engine for the hot hatch you’d rather have bought. Enter the ultimate fast MPV, the Zafira VXR.
Critics will be quick to point out that it doesn’t drive like a sports car, and that’s a fair point. Then again, what vehicle from this period (2005- 10) with a roofline this high ever does? The Zafira VXR is still a laugh to drive, dealing with the torque steer that its turbocharged 237bhp and 236lb ft 2.0-litre engine generates or, indeed, watching that plume of smoke you leave behind every time you accelerate hard out of a corner. Aside from a very firm ride that will have delicate stomachs churning in no time, the Zafira VXR is quite a performer that will roast most sports cars at the traffic light grand prix.
So, the hot topic now is what you need to know when buying one. Well, as with most family-oriented cars, you’ll need to make sure the interior hasn’t been trashed, particularly those figure-hugging Recaro seats up front. Next, ensure the front tyres have a decent amount of tread because the VXR will eat through them if you drive it hard all the time.
You should also check that the recall regarding the heating and ventilation system has been carried out. There have been two issued for this generation of Zafira and the one relating to cars with climate control applies to the well-specced VXR. This involves some modification to ensure water doesn’t get into the system and replacing the blower fan motor, regulator and wiring harness. Make sure this has all been done or things might get toasty.
Ford S-Max 2.0 Ecoboost Titanium X Sport, £8999: It would have been nice to find a five-cylinder S-Max with the same engine as the contemporary Focus ST, but those are rare. A better compromise is this later, 2010 example with a 236bhp 2.0-litre turbo. It’s more powerful and far cheaper to run.