'Super-size-me' people carrier: how Zafira Life can take nine in comfort
First Drive: Opel Zafira Life
Quite a number of parents are looking for extra seats in their cars as families grow in size and number.
And there is always demand for eight- or nine-seater shuttles for the hospitality industry.
I usually advise a medium or large people-carrier (MPV) such as the seven-seater Ford S-Max, Galaxy or similar.
Large SUVs are also suggested, though some are not as well made for purpose.
Now I can come up with a super-size-me motor called the Zafira Life which can carry as many as eight passengers. The nine-seater - don't forget the driver - costs from €51,695.
It ticks a lot of boxes for a family or small hotel or any business or organisation needing to move people in comfort - you can have face-to-face seating for meetings on the go, for example.
It was not an Oscar winner for ease of driving or manoeuvrability, I'm afraid. It is what it is - a large vehicle with excellent seating, comfort, good visibility, a high-quality infotainment system, a powerful 190PS two-litre diesel and a spread of safety and driver assists to rival the best.
The most obvious of the assists were the sensor-controlled sliding doors. What a difference they made in parking lots and narrow road drop-off points.
We had a couple of great old drives in it down the country. Sadly I can no longer muster four or five little bodies to fill and test rear seats these days. They would have loved this back in the day. Such space all to themselves and you can configure seating to your heart's content. And laptops or other electronic devices can be connected in all three rows via a 12-volt socket.
Yet you still leave yourself decent luggage room. Obviously there is more of that in the Large, longer-wheelbase version which stretches to 5.30 metres (up on the 4.95-metre Medium). I still think the Medium will work for most families and provide nine seats.
Driving a car in the region of five metres takes a bit of getting used to, especially in town traffic (how do van drivers do it?). Or creeping along a narrow country-lane fringing unprotected canal water. It took me ages to turn in a large driveway.
At 1.90 metres tall, there should be no problems with underground or multi-storey car parks - although I'd double check in individual cases. Thank God for all the sensors and beepers (I never got a scratch on it).
I know relatively small numbers, personally and professionally, are thinking of buying a Zafira Life. If you are one, please test-drive this in as many scenarios as you possibly can. You need to make sure you can park it safely and unobtrusively home and away. Stepping up from the likes of a Galaxy or Zafira Tourer is a big stride believe me.
I'm not being negative. I can see this doing a job for several niches of need.
The key thing is you can convert the cabin space into myriad mixes of passenger and luggage space - five, six, seven or eight.
And, appropriately enough, there will be an electric version in 2021.