Swift-acting steering, impressively roll-free cornering, strong grip and predictable on-the-limit behaviour comprise a  surprisingly complete dynamic arsenal for the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer which is, in the end, an MPV.

Couple this to the CDTi’s torquey performance and you have family wheels that will make unexpectedly efficient and enjoyable cross-country progress.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The front suspension employs the MacPherson strut arrangement of the Insignia

However, your passengers may be less impressed with the ride, mostly because it’s often more turbulent than it should be in a vehicle primarily designed for carting families in comfort.

It deals well with bigger troughs and crests but struggles to absorb the chop of small bumps. The result, on typical British B-roads, is a ride that’s rarely settled for long. It’s better when loaded up, but the S-Max proceeds with greater sophistication and more calm.

This is an MPV that’s more about handling than ride, curiously. The steering is quite good in its weighting at speed and it provides some detail when the front wheels lose adhesion but, like the ride, there’s a slight coarseness of action that leaves you feeling that this is a vehicle rather less sophisticated than some of the subtle stylistic flourishes in its cabin might suggest.

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However, road noise is reasonably muted, even if you can hear a light resonant hum of the noise box that is the boot when you sit in the middle row of seats with the rearmost row folded.

If Vauxhall dared to trade some roll stiffness for a more supple ride, the Tourer would play the dual roles of driver entertainment and comfortable carry-all with some conviction, regardless of wheel size and trim.

A ‘Flexride’ adaptive damping system is available as a £790 optional extra. We’d recommend opting for it if you can stretch to it.

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