1999, Opel sold 1.4 million units of Zafira. That made it the second
best selling MAV in Europe just behind Renault Scenic. The outgoing
Zafira was renowned for versatile seating plan. Its "Flex 7"
system was an innovation back in 1999. It offered 7 seats, among
which the rear 5 can fold down independently to alter luggage
capacity. When the last two rows fold down, a completely flat cargo
loading area is formed. It was therefore very convenient to transport
a family's luggage and toys such as skate boards, surf boards and
mountain bikes. The Flex 7 eclipsed the shortcomings of the car,
namely, boring design and low quality interior, and kept the Zafira
rivals copied the Flex 7 in the following years, but it remains to be
a timeless design - basically, it is already the most versatile
layout a people carrier can offer. Any improvements can only be minor
adjustment and supplement. For this reason, Opel decided to retain
the Flex 7 in the new generation Zafira. It concentrated on improve
the weaknesses of the old car - styling and quality.
the new Zafira looks sharper and smarter than the outgoing car. It
has some family resemblance to the new Astra, especially the
aggressive front end. However, the tall and boxy profile delivers the
bulkiness normally associated with vans. This means the Zafira does
not look as handsome as Honda Edix or Mazda 5.
the cabin now employs much higher quality plastics, as is the fabrics
of the chairs. The dashboard and center console finally got some
styling, not just designed for functions but also desirability. As
before, the gear lever is mounted high at the center console for ease
of use. On the negative side, you can criticize the cabin for looking
too cold, just like many German design. Its dark, gray and silver
color scheme is not as warm and inviting as Renault Scenic.
the number of seats can vary between 7 and 2. The rearmost 2 seats
are primarily for children because legroom is tight and the higher
floor requires adults to raise their knees uncomfortably. Fold them
flat onto the floor will reveal 645 litres of luggage room. The
second row can also slide back and forth to adjust luggage space.
Flip them up and forward, the maximum cargo room increases to 1820
outgoing Zafira offered few storage cubbies. The new one can be
ordered with a panoramic roof with 5 aircraft-style storage boxes
mounted in the middle of the roof. This is a unique feature of the
Zafira. Apart from those, there are 25 others storage cubbies and
pockets throughout the cabin.
to the mechanical side. The new Zafira is again derived from the
Astra platform. It therefore shares the same front-drive layout, the
same 4-cylinder engines from 105hp to 240hp, gearboxes, strut and
torsion-beam suspensions and even the optional CDC electronic
adaptive damping and IDS control system which sharpens throttle
response, weigh up steering and stiffen damping with a touch of the
Sport button. Compare with the old Zafira, its chassis is
strengthened by 30 percent in torsion. Aerodynamic drag is a
competitive 0.31, although its frontal area is one of the largest in
smallest engine is a 105hp 1.6 16V with Twin Port technology (i.e.,
use variable intake butterfly and exhaust gas recirculation to save
fuel at light load). Next one is a new 140 hp 1.8 16V with twin
continuous VVT and 2-stage intake manifolds. It is not only powerful
for its capacity, but also torque (90% max torque is available from
2200 to 6200 rpm). Further up will find GM's L850 2.2 16V, now get
Opel's first direct injection to boost 150 hp. It's not much more
powerful than the 1.8, but the extra 30 lbft of torque and the
available of 6-speed gearbox provides extra pulling power that the
heavy Zafira desperately needed.
there are two versions of Opel's 2.0 turbo engine, one rated at 200hp
and one boosted to 240hp. The latter will serve the OPC version of
the Zafira. In the diesel side, Fiat will continue to supply a triple
of 1.9 CDTI engine, tuned to 100hp and 120hp for 8-valve versions and
150hp for 16V version. As usual, Fiat's diesel engines are remarkably
refined and torquey, thus they are the best partners to the heavy
Zafira. In contrast, the frenetic mid-range push of the 200hp petrol
turbo engine is somewhat out of sync with the character of this
road, the Zafira displays satisfying combination of ride and
handling. Despite of its tall body, its firm suspensions resists body
roll very well and deliver more driving fun than Renault Scenic.
However, it is slightly off the benchmark set by Ford C-Max and Mazda
5 for communication and cornering fluidity, and trails the latter in
ride quality. That said, the new Zafira is a competent all-rounder.
It performs very well in most objective areas, just lack some visual
excitement outside and a cheerful ambience inside. That's why it will
be a choice of brains rather than hearts.