A STALWART of the medium size people carrier market for many years, Vauxhall’s Zafira offered buyers an affordable, practical and easy-to-drive choice in a rapidly expanding market. All good qualities to possess if you’re the proud owner of an expanding family.
However, with the increasing popularity of such cars over the likes of conventional family hatchbacks, buyers sought greater levels of comfort and refinement. As such, any attempt to pitch a car as a utility holdall was often shunned in favour of plush cabins and premium-level amenities.
Vauxhall’s decision to add Tourer to the Zafira’s name was more than a marketing gimmick, though. Along with the extended word count came an enlarged cabin, a more sophisticated appearance and many of the creature comforts you would find in an upmarket Insignia.
The latest chapter in the Zafira Tourer’s evolution concerns what’s under the bonnet. In an age when low fuel consumption and emissions form the basis of countless buying decisions, taking the cleaner, greener approach is no longer optional for car makers.
With people carriers like the Zafira appealing to an increasing number of business users – a practical and spacious cabin is just as useful for accommodating colleagues and clients as it is teenagers – keeping tax payments to a minimum is an important consideration.
It’s timely, then, that the Zafira should benefit from Vauxhall’s latest generation of cleaner, greener diesel engines. Much progress has been made in recent years, resulting in a reduction in engine size while increasing power output, all without impacting economy or emissions.
In the trade it’s called “downsizing” and while the concept of a 1.6-litre diesel motor powering a large car might sound underwhelming, the reality is much brighter. Especially when said engine is part of a family of units set to revitalise and modernise Vauxhall’s entire line-up in the years to come.
And looking to the future, boasting 136 horsepower and 236lb/ft of torque, Vauxhall’s new 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine is already EU6 compliant, which is good news on the emissions front. Supporting this green approach is an impressive 109g/km CO2 performance and an official 68.9mpg rating.
Alongside family buyers, it’s clear that these numbers should do much to attract the attention of company car drivers. Vauxhall’s decision to initially focus on mid-spec trim levels in a bid to keep a lid on asking prices is another smart move.
Out on the road the 1.6-litre diesel unit is everything Vauxhall claims it to be. The firm has worked hard to minimise noise and vibration from the engine and, sure enough, the unit doesn’t sound like a traditional diesel motor – even when pushed hard. It’s also hushed when driven at moderate speeds around town.
Crucially, there’s ample thrust from the small capacity engine to cope with all but the steepest of inclines without any drama. Even then, the six-speed manual gearbox offers a wide spread of ratios to cope with hills and a full complement of passengers or luggage.
In everyday situations it’s clear this 1.6-litre unit is probably all you’ll need. While Vauxhall will happily sell you larger capacity oil burners if your need for speed is strong, the 1.6-litre unit’s on-paper figures present a convincing case if you want to pay less tax and make fewer visits to the pumps.
It would appear that compromise is a dirty word in Vauxhall’s dictionary regarding its new 1.6-litre diesel-powered Zafira Tourer, and this is also reflected in the trim levels available. Buyers get to choose from Exclusiv, the business user-friendly Tech Line and upmarket SE specifications.
All cars receive front and rear parking sensors, USB music player connectivity, front fog lights and trip computer, with the Tech Line adding sat-nav, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and rear privacy glass. SE models boast climate control, an electric parking brake, leather-trimmed steering wheel and a facility to transform the normally seven-seat layout into a more luxurious four-seat one to increase the available cabin space.
With the inclusion of Vauxhall’s latest 1.6-litre diesel engine, the already competent Zafira Touring now offers buyers a more economical and lower cost option within the burgeoning people carrier market. Delivering family hatch levels of economy and emissions yet boasting greater levels of flexibility and versatility, this Zafira is proof that size isn’t everything. At least, not in the engine department.
CAR Vauxhall Zafira Tourer SE 1.6 CDTi ecoFLEX
PERFORMANCE Maximum speed 120mph, 0-62mph 10.4 seconds.
MPG combined 68.9
CO2 EMISSIONS 109g/km.