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BMW 218d and Opel Zafira 1.6 CDTI test: seven-seater in comparison

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW 218d Gran Tourer, Opel Zafira 1.6 CDTI
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N after 27 years it's about time again: With the comparison of Active Tourer against Meriva at the beginning of 2015, for the first time since 1988 it was called “BMW against Opel” in a double test. Back then, when music fans stormed West German record stores because of Rondò Veneziano albums, when the word mobile phone was invented for a 0.5 kilo talking brick and Bayer Leverkusen still won football titles (UEFA Cup), a 530i only held its own just against the cheaper, but hardly worse, Omega 3,000. In the nearly three decades that followed, the brands - to put it mildly - developed differently. The question 'Opel or BMW?' Was rarely asked by new car buyers.

But maybe that will change again. After the active tourer, BMW also with its long version of the 2 Series Gran Tourer on established family connoisseurs such as the Opel Zafira, which is already perfecting its versatility and stowage skills in the third generation.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer becomes a seven-seater for 790 euros

That BMW is as meticulously devoted to everyday items as it used to to the individual throttle valves on its M models is revealed by details such as the luggage blind: the covers are often so heavy and bulky that one would like to leave them in the garage forever after removal. The cassette in the 2 Series Gran Tourer is not only pleasantly light, it can also be stowed in a compartment under the loading floor - unlocked with a handle. This is where the emergency seats can also be found when not in use. For a surcharge of 790 euros, a two-person group of seven goes on the Gran Tour. However, the rear seats are only suitable for children who should bring their experiences from playground climbing houses to the board.

But that is ten centimeters longerZafira is not much better, here, too, you expect the folding chairs (700 euros) for passengers up to 1.70 meters. In terms of variability and space for passengers and luggage, the differences are also small. Where on the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer only the rear seat swivels in three parts, in the Opel the three rear seats can be adjusted completely separately. However, this requires a lot of force to be pulled on a loop of material and at the same time the backrest must be folded down with the free hand. In addition, the tailgate, which does not open that far, likes to throw nuts.

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer with 150 PS

The Zafira has everything when it comes to storage space: even in row three there are storage compartments plus cup holder, between the front seats there is even a multifunctional chest of drawers with countless drawers and hiding spots. Such a pragmatist is therefore forgiven for simpler materials or simpler instruments - especially where the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is content with inexpensive hard plastic in less prominent places.

So far, the advantages for the BMW have been limited, but that will change as soon as it goes on tour. Its two-liter diesel of the latest generation with 150 hp develops enough steam just above idling speed, balances the Gran Tourer to 100 km /h in just over nine seconds and remains remarkably quiet. Even at high speeds, almost only rolling noises penetrate the interior.

With its sensitive, not overly pointed steering, the 1.6-tonne truck can also be shooed through bends and kept on course without any problems - also because that ESP nipped threatening tail swing in the bud. The slight traction problems on wet slopes cannot change the fact that the XL version of the two-person van drives like a real BMW.

In absolute terms, the Opel drives quite lively, but in direct comparison it makes a less committed impression. It starts with the van-like position of its comfortable comfort seats, extends through the less sensitive steering to the more comfortable turning behavior with higher side tilt. On the other hand, with its 17-inch wheels, it goes over bumps more smoothly than the stiff BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer, which was tested with optional 18-inch wheels.

BMW and Opel each under 7 l /100 km

In addition, the 1.6-liter Diesel in the Opel much more sluggish, although only 10 Nm and 14 hp are missing from the BMW engine. The absolute driving performance is also sufficient - in order to get off really quickly, however, it is necessary to engage the clutch at high revs and turn the gears out. The four-cylinder sounds robust in all situations without turning its displacement deficit into noticeably less thirst. Test consumptions of less than seven liters per 100 kilometers are great values ​​in both cases, given the vehicle size. That the Opel withThe manual six-speed gearbox competes against the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer with its creamy eight-speed automatic transmission, incidentally, does not lead to any disadvantage: What it loses in the drive section, it gets back in at the end via the price.

The cost section goes to Opel anyway . In the Business Edition we tested, it is almost 9,000 euros cheaper than a 218d with manual transmission. Its Luxury Line pampers with leather upholstery and heated seats - but many of the amenities that are unique in this class that make the test car so attractive are extra. These include the large navigation system with online services, head-up display and the traffic jam assistant, which maintains the distance to the vehicle in front and even takes over the steering at low speeds.

In 1988, the winning BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer cost around about 15 percent more than the Opel. Today the test ends in the same order, but the price difference has doubled to around 30 percent. The conclusion from that time can therefore confidently be reused: “From a purely objective point of view, the BMW is not that much better.”

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