THE Vauxhall Zafira was one of the pioneers of the seven-seat MPV class when it first appeared in 1999 - winning plaudits aplenty for its versatile Flex7 seating plan.
Over the next decade or so, backed by high-profile television adverts starring comedian Griff Rhys Jones and the ‘Little Dads', it gained a significant following among family car buyers in the UK.
However, the explosion in the popularity of SUVs and crossovers in the last decade, many of which also offer seven-seats, has seriously increased competition for people carriers.
In 2011 Vauxhall's response was to launch the expanded Zafira Tourer, which underwent a facelift late last year in a bid to keep pace with its rivals.
It now bears the corporate front-end sported by Vauxhall's latest models, notably the totally revamped Astra, in the shape of a wider, sleeker grille whose prominent chrome signature bar runs into the distinctive ‘double wing' LEDs in the new headlights.
Elsewhere exterior changes were minimal but inside the transformation was more dramatic, with the infotainment screen moved from its perch on top of the dashboard and integrated lower down.
More of the controls are now accessed via the screen so the previously confusing array of buttons and switches is greatly reduced, making everything less cluttered and easier to locate and navigate while on the move.
Every Zafira Tourer also gets Vauxhall's OnStar enhanced connectivity system which, for a subscription fee, provides in-car Wi-fi for up to seven devices and direct links to roadside and emergency assistance at the push of a button.
The spacious cabin is light and airy and as practical as ever, with the Flex7 seating still at the heart of its versatility.
The middle row of three seats all slide, tilt and fold flat individually while the rearmost pair - which, as with all MPVs, are really only suitable for children - can be easily dispatched into the boot floor when not needed.
The boot is an impressive 710 litres in five-seat configuration, rising to a whopping 1,860 litres with the second-row seats folded down, and there's even room for a few shopping bags with all seven in use.
Sliding rear doors would have been a nice addition - but the Zafira Tourer is far from the only MPV to shun this option.
Power comes from the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine my car had or a choice of 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesel units.
Although, at 1.4-litres, the petrol sounds alarmingly modest to pull a sizeable MPV, the turbo makes all the difference - it's fairly sprightly off the mark and in town traffic and relatively refined at a steady motorway cruise.
If you do lots of miles or frequently haul a full load, though, you may prefer the extra grunt and improved fuel economy of the diesels.
The Zafira Tourer also proves surprisingly nimble and agile for an MPV, staying fairly flat in corners, with accurate, lightweight steering making manoeuvring as straightforward as it can be in a vehicle of this type, while imperfections in the road surface are dealt with well.
Eight trim levels ensures plenty of choice for buyers but the task of unravelling what engines can be had with which specifications and what equipment comes with each grade is somewhat bewildering.
SRi Nav sits mid-range and, as the name suggests, includes satnav as well as some of the sporty design trappings associated with the SRi badge. It also gets digital radio, smartphone connectivity, aircon, cruise control, Bluetooth and front and rear parking sensors.
A reversing camera, however, is an optional extra on all models and you have to step up the range to get innovative additions such as the sliding FlexRail centre console and Flex-fix bike carrier.