THE world of big people carriers now has another capable contender to take on seven seaters like the VW Sharan, Ford Galaxy and other rivals which have dominated this market sector for some time, writes Bryan Longworth.
It is the Zafira Tourer from Vauxhall who have some very competent smaller MPVs like the Meriva and Zafira but the company has needed a larger contender in this sector since the unimpressive Sintra departed from the scene over ten years ago.
The smaller Zafira was a big hit for Vauxhall and after road testing its big brother for a week the Zafira Tourer should create a sizeable impression for owners looking for a really roomy good quality and versatile seven seater.
Vauxhall has gone for a conventional design with the Zafira Tourer and has retained traditional rear doors for the vehicle unlike the rear hinged back doors on Meriva.
My test car was the Zafira Tourer Elite 2.0 CDTi costing £27,415 with options such as satellite navigation, rear view camera, side blind spot alert and Bluetooth taking the cost to £29,175 - I would have expected Bluetooth to be standard for such a purchase price.
This model also has the large panoramic windscreen which along with the glass sunroof helps to create a nice light interior that can be covered by blinds if the sun gets too hot. And the comprehensive standard kit includes leather seats with the front two heated, cruise control and very effective and user friendly climate control.
The 165bhp diesel engine linked with a six speed manual gearbox provides the vehicle with plenty of power for a top speed of 129mph, zero to 62mph time of 9.1 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg which actually was about 10mpg less than this figure aided by the start/stop system.
Like the smaller Zafira the second and third rows of seats are very versatile and can be adapted to various configurations and the two rear seats which fold flat into the floor are easy to put in position.
With the third row of seats folded flat there is an enormous amount of load space and with them in place as with all MPVs the load area is more modest but from my experience with owners with seven seat vehicles the two rear seats are rarely used.
On the down side I found it difficult to see the speedometer in bright light but fortunately there is an easy see digital speedo as well and I did not think the control for adjusting the two exterior mirrors was very user friendly - the first time I used it I mistakenly folded the mirrors and I did not realise just how dodgy it can be driving without such mirrors.
However, I am sure that potential owners of large seven seater MPVs will not be disappointed with the Zafira Tourer for it provides plenty of room for seven, is very comfortable and the model tested is also quite economical and enjoyable to drive.
My Verdict: An impressive large MPV.