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

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

19 December 2005

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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