The People Carrier That Thought It Was A Hot Hatch

GM have had a pretty terrible time of late with recalls across the board and a not particularly successful European arm. Although it's easy to focus on the mediocre cars and wonder about pulling the plug, Vauxhall & Opel can pleasantly surprise you with for instance, a hot hatch baiting people carrier.


The Vauxhall/Opel Zafira was launched in 1999 as a clever entry into the junior MPV segment, cramming 7 seats into a compact footprint where similar sized rivals only had 5. Although a range of vanilla petrol & diesel lumps helped the car become a great success and it was a decent steer, it lacked excitement. Thankfully, it was decided to spice things up by fitting the 2.0 litre turbocharged engine from the Astra Coupe into the sensible Zafira. The Turbo GSI (OPC for Opel Performance Centre in mainland Europe) was born.

The 16v powerplant had 189bhp at 5,400rpm and 184lb ft of torque at 1,950rpm, not huge figures today but enough for 0-60 in a claimed 7.6 seconds and 137 mph flat out. In 2001, this was the fastest way to transport 7 people without resorting to a Lear Jet.


Beefy looking front and rear bumpers, side skirts and 17 inch alloys advertised the extra grunt under the bonnet although it was subtle enough for the majority of people not to notice. Braking and suspension also came under scrutiny to ensure that even with the tall body, it could still go round corners. Direct steering and well controlled roll helped make for an enjoyable driving experience, one probably best enjoyed sans children. Full leather upholstery was an option to make cleaning of vomit a little easier.


Today they are still readily available and pretty cheap, the car above is a seemingly well looked after 2002 example with 96,000 miles on the clock. £2400 is all it would take to buy (without haggling), a big drop from the £19,995 they were new. If 189 bhp isn't enough then there are plenty of tuning options too. It's so good that I'm almost tempted to go and make some babies now. Almost.

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