The Zafira Tourer's new engine is a remarkably smooth and quiet affair, despite its modest displacement and - for its size - relatively high output.
Its power delivery is linear, despite a quoted peak torque of 2000-2250rpm, and even in top gear it will - admittedly slowly - accelerate without bucking or hesitation.
Drop in to a more appropriate gear and it transpires to be suitably willing and eager up to around 4000rpm, and capable of propelling the Zafira Tourer along with ease. It's not as muscular as the equivalent 2.0-litre perhaps, but it doesn't leave you wanting.
Even at higher engine speeds it remains free from the typical diesel harshness that you might expect, although it does predictably become louder - but not to an intrusive extent.
It's still not as quiet under load as equivalent petrol units, but its degree of refinement and flexibility is impressive nonetheless. Consequently it'd be a suitable option for those considering lots of motorway or cross-country driving, thanks to its refined manners.
Acceleration could hardly be described as rapid, but the Zafira Tourer will get from 0-62mph in an acceptable 11.2sec. If necessary, it's claimed to reach a top speed of 125mph.
The six-speed transmission benefits from well-spaced ratios and a long-legged top gear, but its action is slightly balky and hampered by an ungainly gearlever. Not only does it feel uncomfortable to hold, but it has an awkward and unnatural-feeling action due to its angle and travel, both in the vertical and horizontal planes. A shorter, more precise throw with a slicker feel would be a significant improvement for later versions.
On the road the Tourer delivers a pliant ride, with its suspension dispatching potholes and ruts in a quiet and controlled fashion. Smaller bumps can jar slightly, but it rarely becomes uncomfortable and there's minimal roll in corners. A Renault Grand Scenic is better in terms of ride quality, but not as restrained around bends.
The Vauxhall's steering is fairly precise and quick to act, with a modicum of feel, but it's not as consistently weighted or as confidence-inspiring as that found in a Ford S-Max. Fit for purpose is the key phrase here, and it can equally be applied to the Vauxhall's brakes - which pull it up with ease but could do with a little more initial bite and pedal feel.
During our test we averaged 42mpg, more than acceptable the nature of the test routes and what you'd expect in the real world from a modern 1.6-litre diesel. It's likely that it wouldn't prove difficult to average around 50mpg in day-to-day use which, in conjunction with the Zafira Tourer's 58-litre fuel tank should ensure a range of around 640 miles - ideal for long-distance touring.
Inside it's standard Vauxhall fare throughout, with myriad storage points, a steering column that adjusts for rise and reach, adequately bolstered and supportive seats, flexible seating arrangements and a large boot. There's room for three adults abreast in the second row of seats; even the usually awkward middle seat is comfortable. The cabin is quiet too, which coupled with the good ride means the interior delivers a cosseting experience.
Standard equipment levels are high, with even entry-level models featuring air-con, an aux-in connection, a digital radio, cruise control, and electric heated door mirrors. SE models, as tested, benefit further from kit including climate control, upgraded trim and an electric parking brake. Bluetooth, however, is disappointingly a cost option on most Zafira Tourer models - including the SE.
Other features in the Vauxhall, such as the optional front camera system which adds collision alert, lane departure and traffic sign recognition, all function unobtrusively and are easy to use. It's only a shame that the car retains its dated-looking orange coloured trip computer.
Nevertheless, the overall impression of the Vauxhall is of a well considered and well-executed product.