With GM’s local arm Holden looking to European-sourced models for at least one third of its line-up by 2020, the new Zafira could be a starter in Australia in the coming years to take on the likes of the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso and Kia Rondo.
Scheduled for a European release in the fourth quarter of this year, the updated Zafira sports new Astra-inspired LED headlamps, along with new lower and upper grilles.
Inside, the 2017 Zafira gains a new steering wheel and the company’s latest IntelliLink infotainment system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Adding to the list of in-car tech is the Zafira’s 4G LTE Wifi hotspot, which can connect with up to seven mobile devices.
Other updates for the refreshed people mover include Adaptive LED headlights, ‘Opel Eye’ front camera, high beam assist, traffic sign assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
Mark Adams, vice president of GM Europe Design, said: “The front design of the new Zafira takes over the major characteristics [from] the one of the award-winning new Astra, and anchors it in Opel’s new portfolio”.
“Its sharp, precise double-winged daytime-running lights convey a new level of sophistication, which is also reflected in the interior by a comprehensively redesigned instrument panel. [It’s] purer, clearer and easier to use.”
The pre-update Zafira was set for an Australian launch under the Opel brand in 2013, but it was cancelled after the company withdrew from the Australian market in the same year. A number of vehicles were already en route by sea, however, and can now be seen on Australian roads in small numbers.
With Holden’s partly Euro-sourced future imminent, the Zafira could be another Opel candidate to wear the Holden badge, joining the Astra and Insignia in the brand’s future line-up.
Back in 2014 Karl-Thomas Neumann, Opel boss at the time, said that the recent spike in SUV sales could mean that the next-generation Zafira would shift from the traditional MPV shape to a more SUV-inspired crossover form - making it a better fit for a market like Australia.
“We’ve said before with our traditional MPVs, we have Meriva and Zafira… great cars but they also operate in [a] shrinking segment so the next generation will be more crossover style,” he said.
“They will have [a] strong appearance like an SUV but will not be as high as an SUV. I think this type of crossover has a lot of potential for the future.”
Above: The pre-facelift Zafira was due for Australian release in 2013, but was canned when Opel withdrew from the market
Spy photos have already revealed the next-generation Meriva sporting a more crossover-like body so while the current Zafira may not come to Australia in its current people-mover form, should the new-gen Zafira adopt a more SUV-like shape, it could be a viable and unique option for the Australian market.
The slumping sales of MPVs like the Kia Rondo however, suggest that the updated current-generation Zafira is unlikely to come to Australia, with buyers preferring the higher-riding, tougher styling associated with SUVs.