You don't see any Vauxhalls for years, then suddenly two come along at once
By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, November 19, 2021 / Loading comments
Shed’s knowledge of Vauxhall, or of the Omega specifically, was mercilessly exposed last week when it was pointed out that the CD he featured wasn’t the top o’ the range model. Undaunted by that experience he is now going to expose himself to the possibility of further ridicule this week by talking about another Vauxhall. Not just any Vauxhall, mind you, but a Vauxhall Zafira.
Yes, we know that the Zafira in general is a hateful thing that should be killed with fire. In fact, even the Zafira thought that, because more than one gen-two Zafira B actually did kill itself with fire. A spontaneously combusting dash wasn’t something to look forward to in any car. Yes, we know you would be looking forward to it in a literal sense, but in reality it would be rather unpleasant, especially in a vehicle designed to carry families.
The onboard bonfires were eventually traced to dodgy thermal fuses and blower motor resistors in the heating and ventilation system. Luckily (sort of) the problem only affected vehicles with manual or no air conditioning, not the ones with automatic climate control. Shed isn’t sure if the SRi model that you’re looking at here had that. Hopefully one of the many Vauxhall experts on here will pop up to let us know. Either way it shouldn’t matter as there was a huge recall to sort it out in 2015, a scant six years after Vauxhall first became aware of the problem. In fact there were two recalls, one in 2015 and another one in 2016 just to make sure, hmm.
But even assuming that all gen-two Zafiras are now safe and that you won’t need asbestos driving gloves and breathing equipment to drive one, why in the name of all that’s holy would you ever want to have a Zafira on your drive?
Three letters: SRi. Before we get into that, let’s dip away for a minute and consider the story that PH ran earlier this year about a used Zafira VXR. If you missed it, here it is. Powered by a 237hp 2.0 turbo, the VXR was the quickest MPV you could buy back in the day, that day being 2005. Yes, we know that’s a year not a day. Anyway, if you can’t be bothered to read the story the VXR did the 0-62 in 7.2 seconds and went on to 144mph, which must have been a life-changing experience for any little ‘uns in the back.
The SRi slipped out alongside the VXR in 2005 but there’s hardly any information out there about it because hardly any magazines bothered to test it. That’s because they knew that hardly anybody was going to buy it. It had a detuned version of the VXR lump but it was still putting out 197hp. What Zafira customer would need 197hp, a 0-62 in the low eights and a top whack that was only 4mph short of the VXR’s? Very few fleet managers got them in either because it was taxed at 32 percent. The 20 percent 147hp 2.0 CDTi turbodiesel was a much more acceptable mass-transport solution for sensible user-choosers. Even those fun-seeking company car drivers who knew there was a £1,350 styling pack to turn the SRi into a VXR-u-like couldn’t face the deductions.
Shame really because the SRi had meaningful thrunge from 4,000rpm to 6,500rpm plus a usefully flat torque curve (yes, we know you can’t have a flat curve) which allowed it to match the grunty diesel’s 6.0sec time for the 30-50mph fourth-gear lunge. A slow car with a fast engine, the SRi really was the answer to a question nobody had asked.
As a cheap used motor today, though, well, you be the judge. The 2006 VXR referred to a couple of paras back had 103,000 on the clock and a price tag of £4,695. That makes our not much slower 2005 SRi with a detuned version of the same VXR lump look like pretty good value at £1,495, even taking into account its higher mileage of 148,000. It breezed through the MOT test last month with no advisories, and looking at earlier reports Shed is thinking it may have had a new turbo fitted about halfway through its life.
Inappropriate speeds and even more inappropriate fires aside, the Zafira was a very popular car when it came out in 1999. Its Flex7 seating for up to seven bods was market-leading and there was a wide choice of engines. By the time the gen-two B arrived in 2005 a lack of development had allowed the opposition to catch up and overtake it, but the B did at least provide sharper styling, better build quality and extra refinement. Our shed has a tow bar too so you might want to look into some Michelin Pilots and Eibach shocks for your titchy Erde trailer.
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