Opel updates its large Zafira Tourer MPV with the OnStar personal assistance service now standard across the range, while inside a touchscreen infotainment set-up replaces the formerly button-heavy centre console. Along with a modest facelift, the end result isn't hugely changed from its pre-facelift predecessor, but then it didn't need to be radically overhauled, as the Zafira Tourer has always been a handsome and competent machine.
In the Metal:
It's at the front end of the Opel Zafira Tourer that you will find the biggest change, because the old car's idiosyncratic boomerang light arrangements have been replaced by the current corporate face that is proliferating at Opel. That means the big MPV looks more like the award-winning Astra hatch and it's certainly a handsome vehicle, but at the same time, you could make the case that it's just a tiny bit less distinctive than it was before.
Inside, inspiration comes from the Opel Astra, with increased use of chrome trim, more piano black inserts and a centre console that's far easier to look at than the old Zafira Tourer's, thanks to the inclusion of a large, flush-fitted touchscreen and the removal of several thousand buttons that used to live there before. Like the Mokka X, the Zafira Tourer is one of the first Opels to get the OnStar personal assistance service as standard on all models in the range - basically, OnStar means automatic aid in the event of an accident, on-board WiFi and access to a call centre that is on hand 24/7 via the push of a button, via which the call handlers can download information into the satnav and so on.
With all of the individually adjusting and foldable seats in the rear of the Zafira retained, it remains one of the most practical MPVs that seems to straddle the line between smaller, just-about-seven-seat cars of the ilk of the Volkswagen Touran and Renault Grand Scenic, and the proper large people carriers like the SEAT Alhambra. Case in point: all seats in place, the Opel has a 152-litre boot at the back - large enough for a very modest load of shopping and perhaps a small folding pushchair, but not much else. But at least it has some cargo capacity with a full complement of humans on board, so it should be praised for its versatility.
What are you expecting from a seven-seat MPV? If you're after dynamic fireworks, you're really going to have to look elsewhere and the obvious candidate in this class is Ford's S-Max. You could probably also make a decent case for the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer on the same criteria. The fact of the matter is, though, that the vast, vast majority of these seven-seat vehicles - be they MPVs or SUVs - are designed to be comfortable and stress-free, rather than the sort of cars that can dissect a hidden-gem road in effortless style.
Therefore, the Zafira Tourer is right on the money, because the ride comfort, lack of wind and tyre noise, excellent front seats, torque-rich CDTi 2.0-litre engine and the generally light, precise controls all add up to a car that covers ground in an unpretentious fashion. Sure, you could argue that the 18-inch wheels on the Elite model pick up one or two larger imperfections at town speeds that they really shouldn't, so sticking with a lower-spec car on smaller wheels and plumper tyres might be a better bet if you've got a horde of travel-sick children, but you'll find little to fault about the easy way the Zafira Tourer gets you from A to B, without you noticing much about the journey in-between.
There are one or two issues, though, chiefly revolving around that 2.0-litre engine and its relative lack of refinement. Rewind five or six years and we'd have all been praising this lump for being almighty in the midrange and reasonably quiet in operation. But things move on apace, and the coarse voice of the 2.0 and the vibrations it emits are not up to class-leading standards; certainly not when compared to the equivalent Volkswagen or Ford 2.0-litre turbodiesels, and also not when held up to the smaller 134hp/320Nm 1.6-litre 'Whisper' CDTi that Opel offers in the Zafira Tourer. The company does a fabulous biturbo unit on the same Whisper architecture as the 1.6, which we've tried in an Insignia, and if that excellent engine was in the big MPV we'd be a lot more impressed.
What you get for your Money:
Pick an Elite model like this and you get the fantastic panoramic windscreen, which helps lighten up the front of the cabin. While Opel has done much to improve the Zafira's interior ambience, it can still feel like a dark, drab place at times and so sliding back the sun visor-esque arrangement above the front-seat passengers helps to brighten things up considerably. Like any high-spec Opel, you get a lot of equipment for your money, including plenty of driver assist safety systems, but you don't necessarily have to stretch to Elite spec as even mid-grade SE remains well-stocked for the cash. While we don't technically have Irish pricing for the updated version, we don't expect the cost to change drastically.
No drastic alterations on a worthy if unexciting vehicle, would be our review of the Opel Zafira Tourer facelift in one sentence. That sounds rather uninspiring, but as a vehicle competing in the ever-shrinking large MPV class, it is pretty much bang on target in terms of its dynamic make-up, clever interior layout and reserved yet attractive exterior styling. With a slightly quieter, smoother 2.0-litre diesel engine and a ride that wasn't upset so much by the 18-inch alloys, we'd have perhaps been raving about the Zafira Tourer. Despite such impediments, though, it remains a very strong contender in its class.