2005 Vauxhall Zafira Life 1.6 Petrol Review

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Simply put – the Vauxhall Zafira is practicality on four wheels

We don’t just review household, electrical and leisure items at We Try Anything – we also review cars, new and old.  We thought we would resurrect a few reviews that we had carried out a few years ago and apply a bit of hindsight to them and feature them on the all-new We Try Anything review platform.  

So, here we go…

Our first one is for the second generation 2005 Vauxhall Zafira Life 1.6i petrol that we used to own and drive about in the late noughties.

The Vauxhall Zafira, as one car salesman told us, is simply a taller version of the Astra Estate.  In our opinion, when we drove it about we felt that it was a sleek, modern-looking multi-purpose vehicle with car-like driving characteristics.

The Vauxhall Zafira replaced a 2005 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 petrol that we had at the time, which was giving us engine trouble and if there was ever a tip we could give you when buying a used car and that would be to check who the previous owner was before buying a car and not finding out the hard way that you what you had bought was an ex-rental car, believe us it will save you all the headache that we had when owning the Polo at the time. Even though we were stepping from a German brand known for its engineering prowess to a UK manufactured and distributed vehicle we didn’t really notice the difference in interior quality at all.  The styling didn’t scream that your youth had disappeared because you are a parent of ‘X’ amount of children, like other MPV’s did of its class in the day.  Plus we grew to like its quite brutish, angular styling and above all, it was extremely practical.

Vauxhall Zafira Rear

We had drove about in the Vauxhall Zafira for about 2 years and we have to say it had been a joy to own.  It swallowed two kids, two very weary parents and a whole lot of luggage with space to spare.  With up to seven seats it was great as a mini-bus and it was flexible enough, with it’s easy to use seating folding system, to turn into a load-lugger with a few catch pulls and a slight amount of effort.  Great for a trip as well as the tip.

Driving one of these was as easy as driving an estate.  You quickly forget that you are driving a medium-sized MPV.  The driving position was slightly raised, compared to most cars, and the headroom was excellent!  In the back, with its excellent seating system, you are slightly raised above the seats in the front giving you a better view of the road ahead so you don’t feel cut off in the back.  Legroom in the back was adjustable and the seats could be slightly reclined or sat more upright, which is great for a long journey as you can relax and have a crafty snooze when the girlfriend to be wife wasn’t looking, well we hoped she wasn’t looking as she should have been driving!

If you have kids, then simply put, this car comes into its own.  It can accommodate two child seats with ease and has space to sit a fairly rakish adult in the middle. At the very rear you did have those extra two seats but at the time we didn’t really try them with our children sitting in their child seats as they were not at an age where they were independent enough to be sitting right at the very back.  At a push, it can accommodate three child seats but it is at a squeeze and I would say that it is only ideal for small journeys.  There is an extra PowerPoint in the back, ideal for a portable DVD player or portable devices.  Our major gripe was that there wasn’t much in the way of cup holders and in a car that is mainly used by families was a pain.  Other than that it’s a great car if you have a family.

The driver’s instrument panel is easy to read and the controls are all in their easily reached places.  A trip computer would have been great as we can imagine that most fuel-conscious families would like to keep an eye on fuel consumption but this may only be down to the spec of the model we owned.

The car was quite agile for its size and it didn’t roll too much in the corners.  The steering was direct and you have a great feel for the road.  The turning circle wasn’t bad and on the motorway, it was very poised and stable, which was comforting at the time.

We had the 1.6 Life model and performance-wise we wished we were driving the 1.8 petrol or diesel model as it did feel underpowered for the size and weight of this vehicle.  It was thirsty and the fuel did go quite quickly as we found that we were working the engine a lot more and we would have loved to have tried the 1.8 petrol and diesel models to see how they fare, but the cost of taxing the vehicle made the 1.6 petrol the only choice for us at the time.  Accelerating to 70 is in double digits when you have a full car and you really do notice the difference in performance when the vehicle is laden with people and luggage.  On the motorway, we did get a fairly good throttle response when overtaking but we felt that the had to slightly plan ahead as we really did have to put our foot down to squeeze more power out of that underpowered 1.6 petrol engine.

Overall we felt at the time that the Vauxhall Zafira was a great form of family transportation.  For us, it had been very reliable and the running costs weren’t too high.  In hindsight, and after about 6-7 years later of owning different cars, we do miss the practicality that the Vauxhall Zafira offered – especially as our kids are getting older and there is a need to transport bikes, friends and other members of the family around.  Would we get another one?  Well, we would definitely look at a newer version that was diesel and was cheaper to tax but we wouldn’t touch the lower-powered engines like the 1.6 petrol as we felt that it was a little sluggish and very thirsty.  We would also like to try the Volkswagen Touran or Ford C-Max but if you are looking for a car that can do the school run, act as a mini-bus, rubbish remover and small van then we wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to give the Vauxhall Zafira a try as it is literally practicality on four wheels.

*Please note that the images used are for illustration purposes only.  Images obtained from

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