From £17,990
Expensive and illogical, but fast and more civilised than the VXR.

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Zafira
Vauxhall's Zafira has been a trend-setter since 1999, but has never been trendy

The Vauxhall Zafira seven-seat MPV is versatile and well made but is now showing its age

15 November 2005

LAST WEEK’S FIRST steer of the 237bhp Zafira VXR concluded that Vauxhall’s midi-MPV is no enthusiasts’ car. Accept that and there’s a lot to like about this 2.0 Turbo, essentially a VXR unit with the wick turned down by 40bhp.At tickover the engine sounds dull and slightly diesel-like, which is appropriate because low-rev shove is like a good turbodiesel’s. From 30-50mph in fourth it matches the 1.9 CDTi 150’s 6.0sec and its torque curve is remarkably flat from 1900-5500rpm.But where a diesel starts to peter out at around 4000rpm the SRi gets its second wind, surging on to 6500rpm with a sporty thrum. It’s quick, too: 8.4sec from 0-60mph is warm hatch territory, and the 140mph maximum is just 4mph behind the VXR’s.SRi trim brings lowered and stiffened suspension and a dash-mounted ‘Sport’ button, which sharpens the throttle and electro-hydraulic steering. We’d leave sport mode well alone, though; around town throttle response is too aggressive and on B-roads it encourages you to drive in a manner that quickly overwhelms the Vauxhall’s chassis.Because, as we’ve already said, the Zafira is no sports car. The sports suspension is firm and keeps the tall body in check, but the steering lacks the fluidity of a Mazda 5’s. The handling can’t match the Mazda either, so enthusiastic pilots will soon find the heavy iron block pushing the nose wide.But forget about being Yvan Muller and the 2.0 Turbo is ideal for buyers needing lots of versatility with a dose of pace, though CO2 emissions of 228g/km – and the resulting 32 per cent tax – mean its unlikely to tempt company car users away from the turbodiesel (20 per cent).A stealth VXR, then. And if you don’t want subtlety, you can always add the £1305 VXR styling pack.Alastair Clements

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