Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 2.0 CDTi 165PS Elite (2012)
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Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 2.0 CDTi 165PS Elite (2012)

Best-equipped version of Vauxhall's largest MPV.

The Zafira Tourer is the largest of Vauxhall's three MPVs, offering more space than the not particularly closely related Zafira and the compact Meriva. There is much cleverness in the Tourer range, but not all of it is available in all models. That can't be said, however, of the range-topping Elite reviewed here, which gets the full set.Most notably, it shares with the cheaper SE a feature called Lounge Seating, in which the central of the three middle-row seats can be converted into two armrests for the outer seats, which can be moved backwards and inwards to create a positively remarkable amount of space for their occupants (far more than is offered to those in the third row, which is strictly for small children only).The Elite and SE also have the FlexRail centre console derived from the system which first appeared in the Meriva. Looking very swish with its polished aluminium rails located between the front seats, it has several storage modules that can be stored, up to a point, wherever you want them to be.Alone in the range, Elites are also fitted as standard with a panoramic windscreen and sunroof which considerably add to the glass area of the Tourer. All models have usefully large front side windows - so much better than the useless little panes so often fitted to MPVs - but the pillars around them are very thick. Front three-quarter visibility is still better than that at the rear, though, where Vauxhall (like everyone else) has succumbed to the temptation to opt for style over practicality and offer very small windows.There's not much to complain about in terms of luggage capacity. With the rear seats folded, there's 710 litres of this, extending to a very helpful 1860 litres if you fold the central seats too.Most of the engines offered with the Zafira Tourer are available in the Elite, with the exception of the entry-level 1.8-litre petrol. The test car used the more powerful (at 163bhp, or 165PS as it says in the car's title) of the two-litre turbo diesels in the range, and while I also like the 128bhp diesel and the 138bhp 1.4 petrol turbo I wouldn't complain if I had to have this one.As is generally the way with Vauxhall diesels at the moment, it sounds quite gruff when the car is stationary, moving slowly or accelerating hard, but its noise fades into the background when you're cruising.There's enough power for it to be reasonably quick when required, though not so much as to upset the chassis - the handling is pretty good for a medium-sized MPV, and a little better than the ride quality, which can be choppy over less than ideal road surfaces.Officially, combined fuel economy is the same as you get with the 138bhp diesel at 54.3mpg, but that's almost certainly due to a peculiarity of the EU test procedure. Use any more than a small fraction of the performance of either engine and differences in consumption will quickly appear.54.3mpg is a figure you're unlikely to match in real life, unless you have a driving style I can only dream of. This test suggested that economy in the mid-40s mpg is more realistic, helped by the fact that the start/stop system - unlike that of some other manufacturers I could mention - actually does shut off the engine almost every time the car comes to a halt. Engine 1956cc, 4 cylinders Power 163bhp Transmission 6-speed manual Fuel/CO2 54.3mpg / 137g/km Acceleration 0-60mph: 9.1 seconds Top speed 129mph Price £27,420 Details correct at publication date

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