From £17,990
Fast and bonkers, but neither an effective MPV nor a convincing performance car.

Is Vauxhall’s Zafira VXR the most pointless car since the automatic Mitsubishi Lancer Evo?The combination of 237bhp two-litre engine and six-speed gearbox has already made the hot Astra one of the most brutal performance cars on the market, and not to everyone’s taste as a result. So the same drivetrain under the Zafira MPV is surely a combination that takes niche to new extremes.Inside, the Zafira’s packaging is typically clever — plenty of oddment space, the same trick seating arrangement as on the bread-and-butter models. Indeed, there’s precious little to indicate that you’re sitting in something special – a touch of aluminium on the dash, a bit of VXR branding and a ‘Sport’ button that weights up the steering and improves the already-impressive throttle response.You sit high enough, though, to be conscious that this is not a performance hatchback. The gearstick certainly doesn’t help – it’s topped by a huge, square, heavily-stitched knob that’s hard on the hand and a pain on long journeys.On the road the Zafira is just bonkers. The chassis plainly struggles to cope with press-on driving and the stiffened settings make the ride uncomfortably harsh around town.Suffice to say you’d need wipe-clean upholstery if you were planning to take the kids along to watch you wheel-twirl your way round some country lanes on a Sunday morning thrash.That, if anything, is the Zafira’s biggest problem. It’s too harsh a package for everyday MPV use, and still too much of an MPV to make it an effective performance car. The end result is an amusing diversion for a day or two – but I can’t for the life of me think who’d actually want one of these for daily use. Same as the Lancer, really.

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