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Zafira will take you to seven heaven in style

There was a time when the seven seater was a bit of speciality motor -- now every manufacturer has one.

In fact, the only marque I can think of that doesn't is Skoda and I'm sure they have one in the pipeline or already in pre-production.

Some are truly top end while others are mere journeymen -- made simply for the sake of it. Not with Opel.

The new Zafira Touring has earned it's place at the top table for several reasons not least for being drop dead gorgeous.

Take the boomerang-shaped headlights which scoop down into the sunken fogs and finished in piano black which gives it a really distinctive, sexy look.

Throw in snazzy five spoke alloys, colour coded wing mirrors, roof rails, chrome trimmed door handles and you've got a pretty desirable bus. But looks alone are not enough to make the shortlist in the most contested car segment of them all. It's got to be bigger, better and above all more versatile than it's rivals.

Take the seating arrangements which are nothing short of genius. Thanks to the brilliantly clever system, parents can eradicate the cause of all back seat squabbles -- the middle.

With the pull of a couple of levers the two window seats move sideways as the centre flattens leaving just a pair of full length leather armrests. This gives you a 2+2+2 formation leaving the seventh pew to be activated only in the case of an emergency.







IMPRESSED

The amount of stowage space is also vital in a wagon like this and the cabin is peppered with cubbyholes, pockets and compartments -- all capable of passing the 2litre bottle of water test.

All in all space is a major selling point with a massive boot (third row of seats folded) and if you drop row two it's big enough to carry a fridge freezer.

But the 'piece de resistance' is the panoramic roof which you can't help but be impressed by. From the drivers seat the whole cabin section of roof including sun visors and roof cloth slides back to let light flood in. In the rear the glass panel runs all the way to the tailgate giving the same level of airiness.

Then there is the tremendously smart FlexConsole rail system which maximises space by creating unique multi-level storage capacity.

She's pretty frugal too with the 130bhp 2.0 litre diesel returning a decent 45mpg and with emissions of 137g/km means €225 a year tax.

It also drives well even though the diesel power plant isn't as lively as we'd have liked but the elevated driving position and it's effortless cruising ability on motorway jauntys cancels that out.

The only real drawback this reviewer could find was the absence of Bluetooth and how complicated accessing the spare wheel is.

Locating it under the rear bumper itself took 15 minutes as did trying to figure out how to loosen the attached bolts.

Certainly not for the faint hearted, let alone a stressed out mum at the side of the road with a bunch of screaming kids on board.

Prices for the Zafira Touring start at €28,495.