2002 Vauxhall Zafira GSi 2.0 turbo petrol from UK and Ireland
Not a boring family car or a car for a boring family
Whoever it was at Vauxhall/Opel that came up with the whacky idea of putting a manic 190 horsepower sports engine in a people carrier should get a bonus. My Zafira GSi 2.0 turbo is an amazing vehicle and not only because theoretically it can carry a driver and six terrified passengers at 140mph along an empty motorway. I admit that last year I did open the car up on a continental autoroute, I didn't push to anywhere near the top speed, but I don't see why 2.25 miles per minute velocities shouldn't be possible and comfortably maintained, at least until the petrol runs out.
What makes the Zafira turbo special is the wonderful sense of security that one gets from having huge reserves of power and dynamic ability whilst just doing normal day to day driving. The smooth turbo engine has amazing reserves of torque even at low speed, just a gentle push on the accelerator is a enough for most overtaking without needing to change gear. The brakes are excellent with antilock, traction control and emergency stability programme systems making stopping easy even in bad weather or on poor roads.
The handling is first rate and the suspension whilst being pretty firm is not too hard and rough roads do not upset the ride too much. The wide 17inch wheels do create rather a lot of road noise though, this makes the GSi not the quietest of motorway cruisers.
The standard Zafira is famed for it's flexibility of seating and load carrying and the sporty nature of the GSi model does not compromise these abilities at all. The standard part leather seats add a bit of luxury, but I found the predominantly black trim somewhat dour so I've added some shiny Irmscher aftermarket bits to try and lift the gloom of the interior, with some success. The standard alloy gear knob can be irritating and in winter I drive in a pair of leather gloves as changing gear with a sub-zero degrees metal gear knob is not fun.
The GSi is a very low slung beast and rough lanes and speed ramps have to be taken carefully if you don't want to leave bits of spoiler or exhaust behind. The alloys wheels look great, but I have managed to grind them on kerbs a number of times.
Overall I am pleased with my Zafira and I will probably keep it for quite a few years. The depreciation is excellent, but that wonderful turbo engine can have quite a thirst if you drive rashly, I usually obtain around 28-30 miles to a gallon and 34 miles per gallon on a run, but sub 25 mpg is possible if you whiz around too much.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th June, 2004