The new generation Opel Zafira was launched only a few months ago in SA and it's now grown into a full size 7-8 seater bus.

Our test model was the "lower" spec Edition model, complete with 8 seats in 3 rows and 2L turbodiesel power giving 110kW and 370Nm through the front wheels via a very smooth 8 speed automatic transmission. The new Zafira qualifies as a bus in my book, space galore to stretch out or room for the large family or as a tour bus.

One big advantage of the bus style over a 7 seater SUV is the massive boot space available behind the 3rd row of seats measuring approximately 1000l. This is a vehicle that takes passengers plus all the accompanying luggage.

Edition spec does mean that you have to live without a few extra luxuries like electric seat adjustment for the driver, leather trim for the seats ( many people do actually still prefer cloth), dual panoramic roof panels and powered side doors are some examples.

You still get dual zone automatic air-conditioning plus roof vents and separate adjustment for the rear, auto headlights, touchscreen with reverse camera including overhead view, blind-spot warning and many other features.

The automatic transmission is operated by a rotary switch which is different but actually very easy in operation. There is a manual button and paddles on the steering wheel if you so desire, although personally I think they are superfluous on a vehicle of this type.

A bus is a vehicle for relaxed, easy cruising and the Zafira excels in this respect, but it always feels as though there is more than enough for overtaking when needed. The automatic transmission quickly drops 1 or even 2 ratios when prompted for an overtake on the freeway.

During our test period that involved a large amount of urban commuting the overall fuel consumption of 7.8l/100km is an excellent figure for a vehicle of this size and capacity.

The Edition model is currently priced at R749 900 and this includes a 5 year/ 100 000km service plan.

Alan Rosenmeyer:   MotorMatters: