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Hidden Heroes: Vauxhall Zafira GSi

Published 27 September 2019

Boney M have a lot to thank Vauxhall for. Back at the end of 2001, the Luton-based company decided to introduce a car that would turn the perception of the traditional people carrier on its head.

With 197bhp, the Zafira GSi came with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, with all that power channelled through the front wheels. Enough for a 0-60 time of 7.0 seconds and a top speed of around 150mph - hardly the standard stats for a seven-seater MPV.

Vauxhall Zafira GSi (2)

Where the Seventies glam band came in, though, was in Vauxhall’s advertising. The company revived the Boney M hit ‘Daddy Cool’ for a series of TV adverts, which included children admiring their dad’s choice in people carrier. 

It was an overtly sexist but incredibly effective piece of marketing, reinventing the Zafira as a vehicle that was about more than just sensibility and practicality. Indeed, they even offered a styling pack on lesser Zafira models, so that if Dad bought a 1.8 SRi, he could make it look like the one off the advert, other than the Arden Blue paint, which was reserved for GSi spec only. 

Vauxhall Zafira GSi (3)

Vauxhall pulled it off, too. The Zafira was based on the Lotus-tuned chassis of the Astra G, and in the GSi model it got the same chassis and performance enhancements as the hot Astra, which meant that it was really quite effective through the twisty bits. Yes, it suffered from torque steer and its upright bodywork meant a bit of extra lean through the bends, but it was riotous fun to drive.

It was always a niche. Vauxhall sold just 2800 of them over a four-year production run, and of those around half still survive, some in enthusiast ownership, but the others still floating around in the lower reaches of the classifieds. These days, £1500 will buy you a good one. If you want to be Daddy Cool yourself, now’s the time to buy. 

Comments

Johmon    on 28 September 2019

Was the fastest 7 seater MPV since 2001.

   on 28 September 2019

Yes but oil stem seals, pistons rings, turbo charger problems (oil restricter banjo bolt) required as oil over pressurises the turbo!
A engine rebuild is often needed on these vehicles costing around £1500. While the engine is stripped down it makes sense to change other parts that wear to amounting to the £1500-£1800
I should know as I rebuilt my one, cost me less than £1000 as I did it myself. Rear electric windows and rear central locking faults due to wiring loom faults, wiring being crushed between the door pillar and door it’s self costing around £100 including parts and labour. Doing your research will prove my points I’ve written above

These cars are lovely and fun to drive,I love mine, it’s a beautiful car to drive once you get it running good, my new oil stem seals are the flying saucer type so they are held in by the valve spring and won’t come off and they are the performance type! but these vehicles will empty your bank account very quickly if you don’t inspect it Totally before purchasing one!!

Johmon    on 4 November 2019

Yeah I have heard about the stem seal issues and the door looms being cut which stops the central locking working on whichever door but something about this MPV I find interesting.

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