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The new Vauxhall Zafira - which bears the additional 'Tourer' moniker to differentiate it from the current Zafira that will gradually make its way towards the showroom in the sky - is the third-generation seven-seater MPV bearing the Griffin badge.
Wider, longer and with a stretched wheelbase, the new Tourer is stepping up in terms sophistication and cabin flexibility as well as size, and maintains Vauxhall's strategy of creating larger MPVs that straddle standard model categories. Just as the latest five-seater Meriva transcends supermini-MPV and mini-MPV sectors, the Zafira Tourer has wheels in both the lower and upper people carrier camps.
Bumper-to-bumper, the Tourer is nearly 200mm longer than its current sibling, and the longer wheelbase offers more interior space as well as enhanced ride quality. Rear luggage space is up by 40 and 65 litres respectively with the second/third row of seats folded and in five-seater mode.
According to Vauxhall, the current seven-seater, so popular in Motability land, will be retained for "a few years" with a rationalised "value" Exclusiv and Excite specification choice.
Of the 450,000 Zafiras sold in the UK since its arrival with the pioneering Flex7 seating format in 1999, a 60% business buyer element has been the norm. That should shrink to 40% for the Tourer, and with a higher share of user choosers and single-badge customers opting for the larger, dearer and more upscale newcomer that is altogether a more striking proposition.
On board, the Elite spec 165hp 2.0-litre diesel's new Flex7 layout provides greater flexibility. With the third bank of seats folded away, the middle row, now featuring three individual chairs, can be configured for limo-like leg and shoulder room for two outside passengers. This approach provides scope for more private hire fleet business. The interior, meanwhile, is genuinely upgraded, and includes the clever sliding central console plus Insignia-inspired instrumentation and switchgear.
Curiously, the space-liberating flick switch electronic handbrake is not standard on the lower three out of five trim levels including what's likely to be the fleet favourite, the 130hp Exclusiv diesel.
The chassis, powertrain and running gear involve a blend of Insignia and Astra technology and there is a pliant ride quality, thanks to that longer wheelbase, that offers a better overall balance than the equivalent Grand Renault Scenic and Citroen C4 Picasso. The car, however, lacks the firm tactility of Ford's S-max, which Vauxhall insists is on the upper edges of the Tourer's radar screen.