Monday 19 March 2018

Out of the mouths of passengers. . .


The other day I had a quiet, patient friend in the car for a catch-up chat while we drove. He came up with a few words that shut me up. And that is not an easy thing to do sometimes.

"Sure what else are cars for only to carry people?" he said.

There was a hint of exasperation in his voice which, on reflection, was perfectly understandable because I had been rattling on about 'people carriers' (or MPVs as some call them).

And how Opel had broken the mould with its flip 'n' fold seating/luggage system in the first Zafira.

And that made for such flexibility that others wondered how they hadn't thought of it first.

And that meant you could fold seats into the floor rather than have to yank them out.

And how now everyone was doing it. And how this new one was a people carrier that looked a lot -- and I mean a lot -- better than the Zafira we've got used to seeing for some time.

And how they are still selling the 'old' Zafira alongside it because it costs less than this new snazzy version that is miles ahead on looks and other things.

And has a vastly better, well laid-out cabin with nice materials.

And. . .

Sure, no wonder the poor crater snapped.

But, you know, both of us spoke the truth.

He was perfectly right. Cars are all about people and how they are made to feel when they are in them.

I was perfectly correct too about the Zafira Tourer. It is one of the better exponents of the art of carrying people (three rows: 2-3-2). So long as they haven't too much luggage. Five? Fine.

Seven? Well then you are in trouble if you want to stow suitcases. I'd say realistically the Zafira is ideal for five with luggage; seven if you're taking the neighbour's children to sports.

They have a really clever number of combo options for the second row now as well.

Mind you, the friend wasn't complaining when we swung out into the country on the motorway and gave it a bit of welly.

There is more to this people carrying than meets the eye. You need good seats -- even in the third row where the toddlers and tiddlers are dispatched.

And you need to take the rockin' and rollin' out of it too. In that area, they've done a good job on the suspension. This was solid on the road and reliably sharp in the handling. Nearly as good as Ford's S-Max.

That is a fair old achievement for what is a seriously grown-up Zafira. I mean this is a big motor now. It sits nice and high, giving an exceptional driving position and view. And the 2-litre diesel in my version (a whopping 165bhp) never lacked power or pace, I can tell you.

There were a few negatives from our stint with it. I wouldn't advise you to spend your money on the Elite version I had.

You are paying an awful lot for what I'd say are non-practical elements. There's a panoramic sunroof -- fine but you don't need it. And there's a panoramic windscreen which gave me an idea of what it must be like to drive a big bus -- you don't need it either.

I think the SC grade (second-level) looks a decent bet and you stay under the €30,000.

Which brings me to a general observation/criticism: nearly €30,000 for a people carrier is such a lot of money these days.

Don't get me wrong, most of its rivals are in or about that price region; I'm just saying that families who need or would like one are faced with finding a hell of a wad of money. And unless they have it (and who has?), then getting it isn't so easy.

There was a time when carrying people was a lot simpler and more straightforward. But fair dues to Opel for reminding us of what can be done.

Indo Motoring

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