Zafira Touring is taking it to the Max
- 29 July 2012
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By Philip Hedderman
IF the old Zafira was chalk then the new offering is definitely cheese.
But this is no ordinary Cheddar or Leicester Red.
No sir, were heading towards Stilton country here – something with an extra bit of oomph to tantalise the taste buds.
You see, like the gastronomic warzone that is the after dinner platter, the MPV market is not for the queasy or faint-hearted.
In fact, I’d be bold enough to say that it’s the most brutally savage of all segments and if you’re not tooled-up – you’re dead meat.
Now, any marketing spiv worth his fake tan will tell you, manufacturers these days need a unique feature as a launch pad to a new model.
The Zafira Touring has several.
After 13 mega successful years, the third generation troop carrier has earned its place at the top table for several reasons – not least for being drop dead gorgeous.
What a magnificent looking specimen she is?
Take the boomerang-shaped headlights which scoop down into the bumper and sunken fogs and finished in high gloss piano black which gives it a really distinctive, sexy look.
Throw in sexy alloys, colour-coded wing mirrors, roof rails and chrome trimmed door handles and you’ve got a pretty desirable wagon.
Design-wise Opel are streets ahead of the posse making some journeymen in the segment look like they are a decade behind.
For the first time ever there is a genuine rival to the mighty Ford S-Max.
But looks alone are not enough to make the shortlist for Family Car of the Year gong.
It’s got to be bigger, better and above all more versatile than its rivals.
Let’s start with bigger.
It’s positively gargantuan inside the new offering and with 5 seats up there is 710 litres of luggage space.
Drop the middle and back rows and that almost trebles to 1,860 litres.
There is no shortage of personal stowage space either and the cabin is peppered with 30 cubbyhole holes (I counted 20), pockets and compartments – with most capable of passing the 2litre bottle of water test.
Then there is the tremendously smart FlexConsole aluminium rail system which maximises space up front by creating unique multi-level storage capacity.
It features a sliding armrest with storage box and movable cup holders, which can be fixed in position anywhere on the rails for maximum comfort and convenience.
What about versatility?
Take the seating arrangements which are nothing short of genius.
Thanks to the brilliantly clever system parents can eradicate the cause of all back seat squabbles – the middle.
With the pull of a couple of levers an the press of a button the two window seats move sideways as the centre disappears into the floor leaving a pair of leather armrests.
This gives you a 2 plus2 plus2 formation leaving the seventh pew to be activated only in the case of an emergency.
One can also opt for the bike carrier which slides out from underneath the bumper and can hold four two-wheelers on the rack while still giving you easy access to the boot – perfect for that weekend away or staycation.
But the piste de resistance is the panoramic roof which you can’t help but be impressed by.
From the drivers side the whole cabin section of roof including sun visors and roof cloth slides back to let light flood into the cabin.
In the rear the glass panel runs all the way to the tailgate giving the same level of airiness.
She’s pretty frugal too with the 130bhp 2.0 litre diesel returning a decent 45mpg and with emissions of 137g/km means €225 a year road tax.
It drives well too even though the diesel power plant isn’t as lively as we’d have liked but the elevated driving position and it’s effortless cruising ability cancels that out.
It doesn’t have the same drive dynamic of the S-Max, but Opel are definitely heading in the right direction.
The only real drawback we could find was how bloody complicated accessing the spare wheel is.
Locating it under the rear bumper itself took 15 minutes as did trying to figure out how to loosen the attached bolts to lower the hinge bracket under the boot.
Could prove to be a nightmare especially for a stressed out mum at the side of the road with a bunch of screaming kids on board.
The absence if Bluetooth is also another bug bear and downright dangerous.
Opel will be selling the old Zafira along side the new Touring.
Prices for the Zafira Touring start at €28,495.