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Vauxhall Zafira MPV (2005 – 2011) expert review

By Stuart Milne, 1st August 2006

The verdict

The Vauxhall Zafira is a smart, spacious MPV that’s immensely practical and in the majority of cases, well equipped too.

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Expert rating:



  • Comfortable ride
  • Spacious, airy interior
  • Impressive practicality


  • Base model lacks kit
  • Petrol engines can feel underpowered
  • Restricted rearmost seats

Full Review

1. Exterior

Looking like an inflated Astra estate, the Vauxhall Zafira is a stylish way to move the family. The sharp corporate front end looks as though it will cut its way through the traffic, and a rakish rear features a low sill allowing loads to be placed in the boot with ease. And that’s the only real evidence of its practical pretensions. Crease lines above the wheelarches help to provide a muscular stance, and a smart set of 16-inch alloy wheels completes the sporty picture.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

The angular dash looks like its been lifted straight out of the Astra, which means it’s well laid out, if a little uninspiring. A dash-mounted screen is the focal point, which provides a home for the radio controls and trip computer. The seats provide plenty of support for all occupants – particularly the driver, whose seat adjusts for height. Overall, the Zafira feels spacious and airy and a pleasant place to be – more so if you specify the panoramic glass roof, complete with a row of storage boxes.
Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

There’s far more legroom than the previous model offered, and it’s perfect for large families. We packed the Zafira with four generations of family members and there was lots of space to spare. Vauxhall’s ingenious Flex7 seating system means the Zafira can be a single-seat, 1,820-litre load lugger or seven-seat people mover – or any combination between. The third row of seats fold flat into the floor, while the second row splits and folds. Even the middle seat in row two can be folded to create a table.
Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

Another area Vauxhall has worked hard on is the dynamics. In sharing many of its chassis components with the Astra, the Zafira can be thrown round corners with the kind of vigour that would have put the old model in a ditch. The ride quality is pretty good, and left our occupants disembarking without complaint.
Our rating: 4

5. Performance

Performance from the 1.8-litre petrol engine is brisk, if not rapid – with just a driver in the car it will dash to 60mph from standstill in 10.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 122mph. If you’re a family in a hurry, there’s the VXR 2-litre turbo model which will get to the 60mph mark in 7.2 seconds and a top speed more than double the motorway limit.
Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

The Zafira looks to be an excellent long-term prospect. The Vauxhall undercuts the equally good Volkswagen Touran by up to £5,000. Buy a new one and you’ll get a 100,000-mile lifetime warranty. You’ll also receive three years’ breakdown cover (as long as Vauxhall does your servicing every year or 20,000 miles) and a six-year anti-corrosion guarantee.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

The Zafira borrows heavily from the Astra, which should render the MPV worry-free. There are no general issues to report, and our test car seemed very well built inside and out.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

The new Zafira scored a maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests, and comes with anti-lock brakes with cornering brake control (which helps avoid skidding under hard cornering) and electronic brake force distribution on all models. The whole range gets driver, passenger and front side airbags (curtain airbags are available on higher-spec models) and collapsible pedals to avoid leg injuries.
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

All Zafiras except the low-spec Expression and Life are very well appointed. Our limited edition Active model was loaded with air-con, 16 inch alloys, tinted glass, body coloured roof rails, height adjustable drivers seat and a CD player and trip computer operated through the dash-mounted screen. There was no sat-nav, however.
Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

The most impressive thing about the Zafira is the way it hides its bulk – it’s difficult to spot it’s a cavernous seven seater. If you’re looking for a stylish and practical people carrier that retains a decent driving experience, the Zafira is among the best on the market.
Our rating: 4

Expert review 4.0stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
Zafira 1.7 CDTi 110 ecoFLEX Exclusiv
Exclusiv is the most affordable Zafira
Zafira 1.7 CDTi 110 ecoFLEX Design
Popular Design model features 17-inch alloys.
Blow the budget:
Zafira 2.0T VXR
Enthusiastic drivers will opt for the VXR.

The Zafira is a stylish way to move the family