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OPEL ZAFIRA LIFE

The Zafira may conjure images of a mythical, magical beast, but it is, in fact, the name of Opel’s multi-purpose vehicle, which haswhich is has been available locally in various forms since 1999.

Now in its fourth generation, the Zafira has emerged as a luxury van that, in terms of price, standard features and overall driveability, should give the competition sleepless nights. Along with its transformation from a basic family car to a luxury traveller, the name has also been modified and is now known as the Zafira Life.

WHAT’S CHANGED?

In short, everything you thought you knew about the Zafira has been turned on its head. The most notable change the Zafira Life has undergone during its evolution is how significantly it has grown from the first-generation five-seater family car to today’s seven- or eight-seater luxury people mover. Both models – the entry-level Edition and fashionable Elegance – are 5.3 m long and 2.01-m wide (making the Zafira Life the second-widest in its class). Despite some specification differences, they look almost identical. Nowadays, fashion-sensitive buyers demand more style for their buck, so the fact that both models have a similar look is significant for the budget-conscious buyer. I enjoy the Zafira Life’s overtly German styling. It is attractive and modern, yet not quite as futuristic as its Hyundai Staria competitor.

The Zafira Life’s interior benefits most from the car’s larger dimensions. Whether you choose the Edition with its 2+3+3-seat configuration or the Elegance model that comfortably transports seven passengers in leather-covered luxury, your available boot space is a generous 1,060 l, which is almost double the volume of a standard SUV luggage compartment. There is plenty of storage space throughout the cabin, and each row of seats boasts a 12-volt charger for smartphones and the like. Unique to the Zafira Life is a 220/230-volt power plug behind the driver’s seat for charging larger devices such as laptops or a camping fridge.

ALL TECH’D-UP

In the Edition model, the Zafira Life is equipped with a range of technology, and in the Elegance, there’s even more. Both have automatic climate control with a roof-mounted centre console supplying air to the rear passengers. The 7” touchscreen – including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation as standard – is relatively small compared to its competitors. There is also no smartphone charger (as found in the Hyundai Staria), which limits the number of charging points for front passengers to one at a time. There is cruise control on both models, front and rear parking sensors, and a 180-degree reversing camera that comes in handy when parking the elongated bus. 

On the safety front, there are anti-lock brakes with brake force distribution and emergency brake assistance, as well as stability control, blind-spot and lane-change warning, and a handy child lock button at the front, which secures the sliding doors on both sides when the kids are aboard.

Although the Edition derivative offers superb value, the Elegance version stacks up well against some rather stiff competition. At R869,900, Opel offers electric seats with heating and massage functions for both front passengers, electric sliding doors, a panoramic sunroof above the second row of “VIP” seats, and a folding table. 

TAKE IT FOR A DRIVE

The launch route took us in and around the Magaliesberg area between Gauteng and the Northwest Province, allowing us to put both models to the test. At its price point (the Edition costs R749,900), the Zafira Life’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox combination is hearty enough for this bus. Although the 20 kW and 60 Nm difference between the Zafira Life and the Staria (2.2-litre turbodiesel) is noticeable, the win comes in the form of reduced fuel consumption. Although official consumption figures are not stated, the Opel should burn in the vicinity of 6.5 l/100 km of diesel.

LAST WORD

It’s no secret that I enjoy the driving experience a bus offers, and it suits me just fine that more MPVs are entering the market. The Zafira Life doesn’t hold back on the value front, and added to that, its proud German origins place it in a league where more expensive, but not necessarily better, products have reigned supreme for too long.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © OPEL SOUTH AFRICA

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