They belong to a form of automobile that is dying out - even if one of them can still be bought new. As compact family vans with plenty of space, the Opel Zafira and VW Touran have no comparable successors. Reason enough to compare the two as used.
Do you remember the 90s? In addition to styles of clothing and music that are modern again today, they brought about the breakthrough in family vans. Admittedly, Nissan Prairie, Chrysler Voyager and Renault Espace are children of the 80s, but they were a whole lot bigger than what populated the parking lots in front of supermarkets, schools and outdoor pools from around 1996. We are talking about the Renault Mégane Scénic, the Citroën Xsara Picasso, the Fiat Mulitpla, Nissan Serena and Almera Tino, the Toyota Picnic or the Kia Carens. By the turn of the millennium, a veritable minivan roller from import brands was rolling down local roads from all directions. And the German manufacturers?
Germany's compact van contribution came late
Opel observes the success of the competitors and went all out: Based on the Astra G, a linear compact van was developed. In order to be able to integrate the seven seats into the underbody in the best possible way, help was obtained from none other than Porsche.
In typical brand tradition, VW waited much longer until the first Touran based on the Golf 5 came onto the market in 2003. Twenty years later, the competition is severely decimated and the Touran is one of the few that is still available as a new car. There is also a Zafira, but it is now based on a much larger transporter platform. You can still find young, used copies here. While fresh Zafira start at just under 17,000 euros as a medium petrol engine, at least 20,000 euros are due for equivalent Tourans. Diesel is currently available for around 1,500 euros less.
The VW Touran 2 (since 2015) in detail:
As a new vehicle, the Touran belongs to the ranks of chronic comparison test winners from Volkswagen. In addition to a very balanced chassis and drive tuning, its successful space concept, the impeccable workmanship and the absolutely foolproof operability help it to do so. Clean performance in the driving values on the test track do the rest. Inside and out, the Touran stands out thanks to its angular, linear design with large surfaces. This gives it the advantage of being washable to a certain extent in the often strenuous everyday family life, even if no one would say it has a particularly heart-warming design. Used, it remains largely inconspicuous to date. The former TSI timing chain problem is spared the generation of engines used here, and otherwise there are no real trouble spots under the sheet metal. As is typical for vans, however, it is not spared (depending on the load) a slightly increased wear potential on the chassis and brakes.
Strengths of the VW:
The Touran is the family car for cool fact lovers. In addition to the good driving values, it offers the greatest amount of space, although it is a proud 14 centimeters shorter and 6 centimeters narrower than the Opel. The data table below is the best way to see how significant the differences in loading volume are depending on the seating arrangement.
Its already praised old VW virtues in terms of tuning and usability clearly distinguish it from some younger VW models - for the better. This applies in particular if one of the classic infotainment systems with a rotary knob is also on board. A modern car can hardly be operated more simply and intuitively.
Another outstanding Touran trump card is the excellent ergonomics in combination with excellent seats. Despite the lavish feeling of space, it conveys a golf-like handiness while driving, which is not least due to the rear wheels, which are guided precisely by several links.
Weaknesses of the VW:
Enough praise: The Touran does not have any chronic defects, but it does have some weak points that it shares with millions of other MQB platform brothers. First, there are the dual-clutch transmissions. The VW DSG simply can't pull off smoothly. This is especially true when the engine has to start up again after a start-stop phase. Only after a few commemorative seconds is the propulsion there and is crudely engaged. The engine in the Opel, on the other hand, starts as soon as your foot leaves the brake pedal. Not all machines are also durable and do not forgive frequent trailer operation.
Furthermore, the TÜV is increasingly complaining about increased brake wear, which, like worn chassis bushings, is more likely to occur in vehicles that have been constantly driven with a high load. Irrespective of this, there are always broken suspension springs on the rear axle - that shouldn't be the case.
The Opel Zafira C (2011 to 2016) in detail:
Less space than the Touran despite larger dimensions: does that make the Zafira the pre-programmed second? Not at all, because Rüsselsheim put a completely different character on the wheels with his spaceship than Wolfsburg. It starts with the futuristic, rounded exterior design, which makes the basically older model look anything but old compared to the Touran. This spaceship character also sets in after boarding. Sure, the square meter dashboard that stretches between the driver and the windscreen is certainly not the most space-efficient solution. But in combination with large front triangular windows and the huge glass surface, a uniquely airy feeling of space is created. In terms of driving, the Opel is just as safe and precise as the VW, but does without its playful ease of steering, pedals and transmission.On the other hand, it seems a bit more emotional and involves the driver more - a matter of taste. In comparison, the Zafira is more passenger than commercial, if only by nuances.
The strengths of the Opel:
In addition to the successful chassis tuning, a slightly lower seating position (the rest also with great seats, here even with an AGR seal) and the higher belt line make you forget the family van format. This creates a noticeably different overall impression compared to the Touran. What is better or worse is a subjective decision. However, the successful driving and feeling of space justifies the objectively poorer space economy. If it is not about the very last liter of storage space, the space available in the Opel is of course enormous. And after all, the Zafira loads up to 170 kilos more than the Touran - that's almost 700 kilos of payload!
The bodywork is also great. This not only applies to doors and flaps that close tightly and cleanly, but also to remarkably good rust protection on the underbody. It also has a smooth surface and thus contributes to good aerodynamics and low-noise (wind) driving. By the way, the whole thing is also durable. Various ex-taxis with Olympic mileages can be found in the network without any significant functional failures.
Most of the engines in the Zafira deserve another compliment. Not only are they remarkably problem-free in terms of durability, they also deliver good driving and consumption values across the board. Of course, that would be a little better if the Opel weren't around 200 kilos heavier than the VW.
The weaknesses of the Opel:
Opel's space giant owes its weight to a certain complexity. For example, the center console has a sliding element in the area of the center armrest. It doesn't really have any tangible advantages, especially compared to the classic standard armrest in a VW, but there are many dirt-prone cracks and almost unavoidable vibration and rattling noises. The rear seat bench, which is so important in the van (actually there are three individual seats) looks heavy and valuable in the Opel, but also a touch less handy than in the VW. The functionality is identical.
If you opt for an early model from 2011 to 2014, you shouldn't take a two-liter diesel. There is a risk of engine damage due to a possible lack of oil. The newer diesels are more economical anyway and come with Euro 6 from 2013 (1.6).
Purchase comparison: Which one to take?
A difficult decision lurks here. The Touran offers better performance based on the measured values alone. Extremely high utility value is paired with exemplary driving performance and (with manual transmission) robust quality. Who accesses here, does nothing wrong. However, these advantages are accompanied by a significantly higher used price. 2,000, often more than 3,000 euros difference between him and the Zafira.And the Wolfsburg does not always offer the nobler equipment.
In general, it is the high-quality design and problem-free durability of the Opel that never give off the feeling of having chosen the second choice. So feel free to view the price advantage as a solid advantage. In this way, the Opel becomes at least an equally smart purchase.
Luckily, when buying a used item, it always depends on what is on offer. Even if the VW is ahead in view of its slightly better driving values and the significantly better space, the Opel is possibly at least an equal purchase. Firstly because it is much cheaper, secondly because it is more solid than the sober Touran.