New Zafira now

better connected

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, front static
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, front action
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, front action 2
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, side action
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, rear static
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, rear seats
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, dashboard
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, rear action
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer, boot

IF cars weren't wide enough, there's a trend to make them look wider still with styling flourishes that fool the eye.

That's what's happened to Vauxhall's spacious seven-seat Zafira Tourer as it gets the mid-life revamp common to just about every car on the planet when its third or fourth birthday looms.

So the front of the Zafira gains new headlamps and a chrome bar, extending the apparent width of the car although, thankfully not actually making it harder to squeeze down an overparked suburban street.

Inside, the changes are more practical, starting with a new dashboard that moves the screen for the infotainment system from the top of the console to a new screen lower down.

That improves the view forward and helps cut out some buttons too, as Vauxhall seeks to give the system the feel of a tablet (iPad, anyone?); Apple CarPlay and Android Auto let you link your mobile phone to the car.

Standard across the Zafira range is Vauxhall's OnStar service which does all sorts of clever things from automatically calling the Luton-based service centre if the airbags go off - signifying a serious collision - where a real person (not a voice with press button options) will contact the emergency services for you, if needed.

OnStar operatives will also report details of a stolen car to the police, if requested, tell them where it is and prevent the vehicle from being restarted.

All very serious and potentially helpful. But OnStar has other uses too - thousands of users have impressed their friends by honking the horn and flashing the lights by using the appropriate smartphone app when they're away from their car. You can check the tyre pressures while sitting in the pub, should you wish.

The latest Zafira Tourer starts from £18,655 and tops out at £29,630 and there are three engines to choose from, a 1.4 litre 140 horsepower petrol or a couple of diesels - 1.6 CDTI with 134 horses and the 170 horsepower 2.0 DCTi.

Best official economy comes with the smaller diesel, which posts a 62.8mpg average. That is also the slowest Zafira (120mph/10.4 seconds to 62mph) although neither figure is likely to worry a potential buyer. The 1.4 petrol manages 42.2mpg/124mph/9.9 seconds, with the 2.0 diesel posting 67.3mpg/129mph/9.1 seconds.

Company car users (and private buyers paying their own road tax) will find the tailpipe emissions of the new Zafira (1.4 litre 158g/km, 1.6 diesel 119g/km and 2.0 litre diesel 129g/km) pretty well what's expected.

Back inside the refreshed Zafira, you find the same three rows of seats as before, and just as practical. The rearmost fold down into the boot floor, and there are more practical cubbyholes than you'll find in an average Victorian townhouse and even a box under the front passenger seat.

You can give two passenger in the second row a real limo feel by collapsing the centre seat into a big armrest and sliding the two outer ones inwards a little, adding to the sense of space that already sets the Zafira Tourer apart.

Vauxhall wisely steers clear of trying to add a sporty overtone to the car, emphasising instead potential buyers as people who need a spacious and versatile vehicle for travelling long distances in high comfort.

And they won't be disappointed. The ride is nicely controlled and biased gently towards comfort rather than Silverstone humbling ability. A sensible choice from the design team.

Trying out the new Zafira with a version of Vauxhall's latest 'Whisper' diesel designed - you've guessed - to be quieter than what went before, only emphasised the car's long distance touring potential.

The 2.0 DCTi engine quickly lost the typical diesel clatter from a cold start and produced the sort of low down pulling power that makes the gear lever almost an accessory out of town.

It would be no hardship to point the wider looking nose of the new Zafira towards a distant destination, knowing you'd arrive fresh and ready for more.

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