Considering it's big enough to carry half a footie team, it drives fine
Not particularly classy and visibility isn't great either
Only the rear two seats miss out on curtain airbags; a five-star crash test rating is good
Owners rate reliability as only average
Plenty of room for people - but they'll need to travel light
Basic models are bit bare
This version of the Zafira uses very old mechanicals, and it feels like it. The noise levels alone are enough to make the car feel uncultured, with sound from the wind and road invading your eardrums. The engines feel - and sound - fairly archaic, too. We'd go for the lower-powered diesel engine, which has just about enough pull to haul the family around and keeps running costs down. Vauxhall has tried to inject a sporty flavour into the drive, so it handles neatly and corners without leaning too much. However, the dog and children would probably forgo a little of that for a softer, more comfortable ride - it's too firm for a family car.
Once upon a time, having two small extra seats in the boot was all it took to make an MPV. Now the bar has been raised and the Zafira hasn't caught up. The two rearmost seats are tight for space, and getting there is a pain. To gain access, you have to slide the one-piece middle bench forward, meaning that everyone in that row has to get out first. Most rivals have individual rear seats, which make the process much less of a faff. Still, the boot is a useful size, and all the rear seats fold down flat. Up front, there's lots of adjustment to help you find the perfect driving position but you'll still have to crane your neck at junctions because the small front quarter lights are tricky to see through. The fiddly stereo controls are annoying, too.
Although the Zafira's reliability was rated only average by owners in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, there's the reassurance of a lifetime (up to 100,000 miles) warranty to help ease any worries. Safety kit is good: all models get six airbags plus stability control to protect you and your cargo. It also earned the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, but it was tested under the old, less stringent system.
The basic Vauxhall Zafiras are temptingly cheap but, as with most things lurking in the discount rack, there's a reason - they come with very few trimmings, and there are plenty of much better alternatives. If you do go for a Zafira, you'll be able to bag a big discount. It's just as well, really, because resale values are dismal. At least it shouldn't cost too much to run - the diesel engine averages 55mpg.