More modern MPVs like the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and Citroen C4 Picasso have recognised that even if you need to carry seven people, it’s still desirable to stand out of the crowd. 

As you can see, back in the middle of the last decade, such considerations were not even on Vauxhall’s radar screen. The result is styling is so bland you can park it in a busy street, run across the road to post a letter, turn around and have already lost your car. It melds into its surroundings, in a perfect disguise of smooth sided, inoffensive, nicely rounded nothingness. Visually at least, it is an automotive non-entity.

Steve Cropley Autocar

Steve Cropley

Editor-in-chief
The Zafira has, at 0.31cd, one of the lowest drag figures in its class

And that’s not all bad. Had it been wacky of line it might now look terribly dated. Styling it so could have been designed any time in the last 20 year by removing all signs of visual distinction has afforded it a curiously timeless quality.

But it’s still effective. The shape comes with a drag co-efficient of just 0.31, which is still competitive by class standards, a very low loading lip for the rear tailgate and, inside, Vauxhall’s Flex7 seating system. 

Any seven seat MPV that didn’t allow at least five of them to fold straight into the floor might now be regarded as deficient, and the fact the Zafira was the first is now a fact of only historical significance. Even so and despite all the intervening years, Vauxhall’s original layout still works well even though it should be pointed out its more modern competitors have individually sliding centre row seats, the Zafira a simple bench.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week

Less impressive is lack of any smart door solution: there are no sliding doors at the back nor at they rear hinged to allow unimpeded access to the interior. They just open and close like any normal door.

This Zafira sits on GM’s Delta platform which used to underpin the previous generation Astra and was also used in the US for sundry Saturns, Pontiacs and Chevrolets. So it’s a standard set up of struts at the front and a torsion beam rear axle, but without the capacity to fit the Watts linkage that so improves the ride and handling of the more modern Astras.

In keeping with its position as the bargain bucket Zafira, by the end of its run, the car came with an only limited choice of engines and trim. Petrol Zafiras all had the same 1.8-litre motor but with a choice of 118bhp or 138bhp outputs and it was a similar deal with the diesels: one 1.7-litre motor with either 108bhp or 123bhp. 

All Zafiras were available only with manually selectable gears, five for the petrol models, six for the diesels. Equipment grades started at Exclusiv, progressed through the optimistically entitled Excite and topped of with a Design model.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Vauxhall range

Driven this week