Opel Zafira" hspace="0" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/1882345133488756.JPG?0.05357808638702022" width="425" align="top" vspace="4" border="1" />
Since we feel a lot of what you see in the Zafira may make it across the Atlantic in a slightly bigger package for Saturn, it might be wise to check it out a little more closely. To give you some perspective, the Zafira is slightly smaller than the Mazda5, which may doom its prospects in the U.S. unless the popularity of smaller seven-seat vans changes GM's mind. Opel has managed to put some innovative thoughts in a small space.
First you?ll notice the strange hump that runs along the center of the roof. This is part of the panorama roof system that integrates storage compartments with small skylights (like those we?ve seen on the Nissan Quest minivan). There are four large glass panels to let the light in when you want it and power-operated shades when you don?t. The center ?hump? houses five different-sized compartments to maximize storage space without giving up headroom.
The Flex7 seating arrangement easily converts from full seven-passenger occupancy to two (with every number in between) without removing any of the seats. The rear seats fold flat into the floor. Third row leg room is at a premium. Zafira can be outfitted with as many as 30 different storage compartments and the FlexOrganizer system that is comprised of two horizontal side rails with adjustable mounting points that allow attachment of retaining straps, hooks, dividers and storage boxes.
The powertrains are less important to us here in North America, as we will see none of the three available diesel engines. Interesting to note is that the top gasoline engine is a 200 hp turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec (same engine as the Ion Redline/Cobalt SS with a turbo instead of the supercharger) and a six-speed manual trans. There is also a six-speed automatic mated to the CDTI diesel engines.
The Zafira?s style and interior treatments will most likely be what we see here in the U.S. living on the larger Lambda platform that is in the pipeline for GM. Who knows, with enough push from the people (and Mazda5 becoming a sales success) you may see the Zafira as is at a Saturn dealer in the future.