Colour is a funny thing. What some people will wear with confidence others wouldn’t be seen dead in. Brown is such a colour and I cannot abide it. For some unfathomable reason that I can’t envisage, car makers have a habit from time to time of putting mud on their colour charts.
Once, there were many Morris Marina’s about painted in shades of brown, presumably to mask all the many defects, but in recent years it had appeared that modern manufacturers had learned the error of their ways. Now it appears this is not so.
The featured car today is the new Vauxhall Zafira Tourer MPV which should not be included in the recent unfortunate news. This one is fine, to the best of my current knowledge, and has a lot going for it. When I looked out of the window and saw my least favourite colour my heart sank. To be fair, in a certain light it kind of takes on a reddish tinge but then the light changes again. At least it is a strong hue which Vauxhall choose to call pearlescent Macadamia. Fortunately there are nine other colourways, all fine, ranged across 7 trim levels with a variety of engines. Our car was in the SE category, two from the top echelon, Elite.
Inside it gets worse. It is a symphony in brown. There is light brown and dark brown and a golden brown on the seats, the fabric part of which seems to have been nicked from granny’s sofa. Mrs DriveWrite refused at first to mount up, declaring that she had nothing in her (extensive) walk-in wardrobe that could possibly go with that upholstery. My point about all this is to highlight a difficulty that car makers have – how to keep all of the people happy all of the time. There is absolutely no doubt that the single feature of colour can cloud your opinion and that’s something that could potentially damage resale values in due course. I resolved to bite the bullet and put it out of my mind.
Before I morph out of grumble mode however I would like to mention the sensors. They cover much of the car’s area front and back and react to objects and pedestrians. This is a good thing. The bad thing is that they are extremely sensitive. The slightest thing alive or dead anywhere remotely proximate and the system gets all hysterical and flappy like Allan Carr finding himself suddenly surrounded by starving bears. It doesn’t stop until well clear of the offending item. Safety and security is fine but this is just a bit OTT.
Enough of that. This is actually a decent, if unexciting car. There’s a full specification of the model below.
The interior mixes a combination of spaciousness and good quality with soft touch materials and comfortable seats, coupled with oodles of storage space including some secret compartments located, well, if I told you that etc…
The cascading dash has been redesigned and upgraded across the fascia, centre console and instruments. It’s all a bit fussy if I’m honest, with many buttons and multi-function switches. I battled with a multi-direction toggle for ages to activate Bluetooth – until I read the manual and found I was twiddling the wrong thing. Not for the first time incidentally. The audio though is very good indeed.
Our car featured the £1200 option that is the Navi 950 Intellilink which works well and is worth having. Guidance was easy to set up although on a long trip it selected a bizarre and complex route that took me down ancient minor roads with grass growing down the middle. Maybe it knew something I didn’t, which isn’t uncommon. Aux, 12v and USB are all on board and the car comes with a six-speed manual (as featured) or an automatic box. Shifts were crisp and there’s the useful frugal addition of Stop/Start.
I liked the view up front which delivers a widescreen effect and you can get a panoramic sunroof that compliments this; not on the test car unfortunately. With prices ranging from £20,000 to £30,000 depending, the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer MPV is a seven-seater, the third row folding neatly and easily into the boot floor leaving a flat, practical space with plenty of room for holiday luggage. Raise the seats and there is still space for the weekly shop. There’s ample leg room in the second row and the seats slide independently.
On The Road
Vauxhall reckon 57mpg should be possible but I saw around 40mpg bearing in mind the car was being put through its paces. A more abstemious driver will get more from it, I suspect. Either way, that’s not bad for such a big, sleek motor. With around 168bhp from the 2.0L diesel the Zafira gets up the road well. Between 1750 – 2500rpm there’s a massive 295lb.ft whoosh of torque; the Zafira with this engine would make a fine tow car. Emissions are reasonable at 129g/km.
This Vauxhall motor turns out to be good to drive and has an excellent ride that smooths out even the worst ravages of our roads. Coupled with the seating, the ride, I have to say, is exemplary; possibly the best thing about the car. You could drive it over long distances and not feel the effects especially when rain sensitive wipers, auto headlights, cruise control and pleasant ambient lighting save on chores.
Vauxhall’s brilliant OnStar service can be specified. This reacts immediately in the event of an accident summoning help automatically or at the press of a button. It also works for breakdowns, wifi and apps. A must-have I reckon.
The unfortunate thing about colour is that, if you don’t like a particular hue, then you take a’gin the thing that is so decorated without giving it a fair crack. Swallowed in a symphony of brown I found it surprisingly hard to overcome my predudice and preconception that this would be a dull car. It isn’t. Certainly, it won’t ever get your pulses racing but it is very competent at what it does. If you want a sensible, large family car but are not especially interested in cars as objects of desire then this could well do the job for you. Geoff Maxted