By Samuel Ee
The third generation of Opel's sporty MPV has gone upmarket as part of the German carmaker's move to reposition itself as a premium brand within the mass market segment.
While the first two generations were simply called the Zafira, the latest model is designated the Zafira Tourer. Now looking like a crossover rather than a people carrier, this new seven-seat Opel has been extensively redesigned with distinctive boomerang headlights and a steeply raked windscreen.
And while the Zafira started out as a compact MPV, the Zafira Tourer is not so compact anymore.
The Opel MPV has now grown in size to 4.7 metres in length with a 2,760 mm wheelbase. Interior room is the biggest beneficiary, especially the third row of seats.
Although these last two seats are still best left to children or average-sized adults, legroom here is slightly more generous now. Headroom is also tolerable because of the way the headlining has been carved out but only if you're not too tall. The second row of three individual seats can slide forward to provide for more space, and optimum adjustments are possible so that a six-footer can be driving with another six-footer sitting directly behind him while retaining adequate third-row legroom.
Best of all, the Zafira seats themselves are extremely comfortable, with their ergonomic design certified by AGR, the German medical association which sets orthopaedic standards.
As with its predecessors, the latest Zafira also boasts the patented Flex 7 seating system technology which allows the second and third row to be easily folded flat into the floor in a variety of combinations.
|Opel Zafira Tourer
|Price: $153,999 (with COE)
Engine: 1,362cc turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Max Power: 140 hp @ 4,900-6,000 rpm
Max Torque: 200 Nm @ 1,850-4,900 rpm
0-100kmh: 10.9 secs
Top speed: 197 kmh
CO2 emissions: 169 g/km
Distributor: Auto Germany 6922-3288
Under the hood, there is a 1.4-litre Ecotec turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission to drive the front wheels. With 200 Newton-metres of torque on tap, the 1,540 kg Opel is a relatively enthusiastic performer.
The size of its lungs only becomes obvious at higher speeds, for example, during kickdown when attempting to overtake on the expressway.
But handling is neat and the Zafira Tourer is fun to drive for an MPV with accurate and well-weighted steering. The suspension, comprising front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion beam with additional Watt linkage, produces a comfortably composed ride.
For a car in this class, the level of equipment is good and the Opel comes with Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Spot Alert (to warn of surrounding vehicles during lane changes) and Advanced Park Assist (which measures the parking space but does not park for you). An electric parking brake integrated with hill start assist is also standard.
As a brand new offering in COE Category A, the Opel Zafira Tourer stands out with a versatile interior which feels more spacious because of the panoramic windscreen and supportive seats that are excellent for long drives. Then there is the frugal performance of the punchy engine. In the compact MPV segment, it is the refreshing alternative.
This article was first published in The Business Times.