A history lesson…
The Vauxhall Zafira redefined the mini-MPV market when the original version was introduced back in 1999. With a cleverly configurable seven seat layout and solid design quality, the Zafira rapidly replaced the Renault Scenic as the people carrier of choice. The Zafira was significantly overhauled in 2005 and these later models have more interior space, being longer, wider and taller. Still a seven seater, the later Vauxhall Zafira for sale poses as a standard five seat model most of the time, with the rear seats folding flat away to give a capacious load space. Post 2005 the Zafira also moved a little upmarket with enhanced trim, even better build quality and a price hike to match. The car enjoyed another little nip and tuck in 2008, with a remodelled nose and another lift in trim levels.
Bang for your buck
What most people are looking for when they buy a mini-MPV is space and versatility and the used Vauxhall Zafira certainly delivers both in spades. The pre-2005 model would be a little tight with seven adults onboard but the extra space in the later models really counts. That clever seating transforms to offer every number of seats from two to the full seven. In what will be normal mode for most, the five seat configuration offers a whopping 620 litres of load space in the post 2005 car, a full 20 litres more than earlier models. Luggage compartments abound too, especially if you plump for a model with the optional 'Flex Organiser' luggage system running along the centre of that tall roof.
What you'll pay
Post 2005 approved used Vauxhall Zafiras hold their value especially well, so don't expect a bargain basement sticker price.
The earliest (1999) of the pre 2005 cars might be had for £2,400 on a T-plate 1.6-litre entry level model, but post 2005 you're looking at £9,300 on a 55-plate 1.6i Life, or another £400 for a Club model.
Diesel models post 2005 start up with £10,750 for a 1.9CDTi 120 Life, rising to £17,000 for the super-quick VXR version. Insurance groups kick off with Group 5 for the entry 1.6-litre models up to Group 9 for the popular CDTi 120 and 150 diesel engines. That VXR rocket is Group 15 if you really need all that performance in a mini-MPV.
What to check
Even the earliest used Vauxhall Zafiras have proved so far to be pretty solid, so you shouldn't expect too many problems. Remember though that these cars are people carriers and have probably done a lot of lugging around. Check that the previous owners' little darlings haven't destroyed the interior with chocolate and chewing gum and that dad's five-a-side mates haven't ripped the upholstery with their studs. Make sure also that the suspension hasn't been ruined from carting all those people around. If you are going for a larger 2005 onward model, check that it is in fact the later version you're getting as model names are often confusingly the same.
Parts for the Vauxhall Zafira are reasonable with a new clutch assembly coming in at £170, but exhausts are pricier at £500, for a full system. Front brake pads are £45 a pair and on the rear they are £33. A radiator is around £100. If your need for speed means you've plumped for a VXR, you're looking at quickly being down £600 for a new wheel and tyre.
How it drives
The Vauxhall Zafira for sale offers a reassuringly car-like driving experience based on its proven Astra underpinnings. It doesn't roll as much as you might think and is relatively stable thorough the twists and turns. Refinement and handling are generally good and although the sportier petrol models deliver quite surprising performance for a mini-MPV, the ride has generally been tuned to deliver comfort over sports car ride quality. That said, Vauxhall have had to ensure the chassis can take a full load of seven adults, so some might find the ride a little firm at first. It seems silly to think about acceleration and top speeds in a car like this, but if you must the VXR will reach 60mph in 7 seconds and propel you to 144mph wherever that's legal. The more sensible CDTi diesels will get to 60mph in 12 seconds for the 120bhp model while the 150bhp take 10.2. Top speeds are 116mph and 126mph respectively and they drink 46.3mpg for the 120 and 45.6mpg for the 150.