Monday, October 20, 2014

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Zafira (2000-2005)

American in name, German in heart. Myk Belmonte explores this mini MPV's charm.

2000-2005 Chevrolet Zafira

We all know that General Motors is a large car company who owns different brands around the world. And the General practices one thing done in the automotive industry: using one car and selling them under different brands whether in the US or anywhere in the world. From sub-compacts to vans to sport utility vehicles, GM did it.

One of the vehicles which was a product of badge engineering is the Opel Zafira MPV, which used to be sold under Vauxhall (UK and Ireland), Holden (Australia and New Zeland), Chevrolet (other places except North America), and Subaru (Japan only) badges. The first generation Zafira was developed together with Porsche and used the Astra platform had its concept debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1997 with production started two years later. Although worldwide production ended in 2005 with the second generation model (called as the B) replacing it, Brazil produces this until 2012.

Sometime in 2000, the Zafira was first brought in together with the Cassia which was a refreshing sight against GM's offerings of gas guzzling SUVs and vans. While the market was flooded with MPVs of various sizes, the Zafira wasn't a hit since it had a stratospheric price of P1.2M back then but it was relaunched in 2003 with a price tag worth P995,000. No thanks to a small size and engine, it was discontinued in 2005.

Value and Costs
Zafiras aren't sought after in the used car market, which means that these can be picked up for low sums than rivals of the same age. If you want one, better be quick on finding since it was never a spectacular seller when it was available.

Prepare to shell more for maintenance but that's when you know where to source them. It may be a Chevrolet on its name, this one has Opel Astra underpinnings which means parts sourcing may be difficult. So apart from basic checking, do inspect if the spare tire is underneath the car which is placed there.

Exterior and Interior
Being 4,317mm long, the Zafira is basically shorter than the Toyota Revo or Mitsubishi Adventure but don't let the exterior size fool you. Clean lines come standard with the vehicle, which may look like a hatchback but with a tall rear side. Roof rails do come standard for all models.

Thanks to an invention called the "Flex 7", placing people inside is a breeze and can be customized for your own needs whenever you need it. The concept goes like this: the middle bench reclines, slides, and folds while the third row can be folded away when more space is needed. While the seating system is flexible, placing large people at the back isn't advisable, same with putting the car to the brim.

Thankfully, a 1.8 motor having 125hp and 170Nm was fitted among locally sold Zafiras and this presents a balance of power and economy. Overseas, there exists a weak 1.6 gasoline and other ones in the 2 liter range and diesel power plants.

Driving Impressions
Since this vehicle is based on the Opel Astra, expect to be a driver's delight since it does a car but with seven people inside. Basically, other MPVs sold later on copied the formula that the Zafira had left behind. If you want something car-like in terms of driving and comfort, then put this one on your list.

Some vehicles which left a legacy but they weren't big hits due to several problems that had plagued them, and the Zafira was one of them. Back then, MPV's that were small and fun to drive aren't heard about; thanks to this, our market had lots of car-like driving people carriers.

The Good:

  • Noteworthy seat folding
  • Capacity for its size
  • Easy to drive
The Bad:
  • Too little an engine
  • Smallish size
  • Somewhat expensive maintenance
The Pick: 1.8

Engine: 1,796cc Z18XE I4 gasoline
Power: 125hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 170Nm @ 3,800rpm
Fuel Consumption: 7-9km/L (city), 10-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear rigid axle twist beam

Price (New): P1,200,000 (2000-2001), P995,000 (2003-2005)
Price (Now): P120,000-P200,000
Rivals: None
On Sale: 2000-2005


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