So just when you’re convinced there is nothing that could be possibly of any interest to an enthusiastic driver in the slow, dull looking and ancient Vauxhall Zafira MPV, a corner appears on your route. 

More in hope than expectation you turn the wheel expecting at best substantial body work and zero steering feel, at worst heavy understeer accompanied by outraged protestations from the tyres. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Vauxhall Zafira is among the best handling compact MPVs

Except that’s not what happens: the Zafira responds eagerly to your commands and angles accurately onto your chosen line with well checked body movements with even a reasonable account of conditions underfoot being provided through the steering. 

True this is not a car that’s going to cause sleepless nights for Ford C-Max engineers, but for a car without an apparent sporting bone in its body, it is an unlikely and impressive attribute to discover.

Especially when it has not been achieved at the expense of ride quality. When using a rear suspension as expedient as a torsion beam (whose major attraction to a car manufacturer are that it’s easily packaged and very cheap) traditional thinking says the scope of tuning available is so limited that even if your engineers are on top of their game, it can be set up for ride or handling, but not both. 

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A more unlikely myth-buster you may not find: the Zafira’s pleasantly cushioned yet controlled ride shows clearly there can be exceptions to this rule, even in the world of sluggish MPVs.

Braking performance is more than adequate for the modest performance available, and comes with a firm yet pleasantly progressive feel.

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