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    Vauxhall’s Newest Amazing Spaces

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We take New Zafira Tourer and its amazing space to meet Vauxhall (the place) and its newest amazing space before looking into some harbingers of the car manufacturer’s past.

 

Redesigning the space around us changes the way we feel and interact with it. So if you’re handed the keys to the New Zafira Tourer, a seven-seat family car which is focussed very much on the creation of new and exciting space inside the cabin, there’s really only one place to take it. Vauxhall.


Not only is the south-west London suburb the namesake and birthplace of Vauxhall Motors’ very first factory, the area itself is going through an intense period of regeneration that has created some extraordinarily striking backdrops, where old sits in stark and beautiful contrast to new.

Small wonder, then, that one of the area’s latest projects – the Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John Architects – won RIBA’s highly-coveted Stirling Prize for the most innovative architecture this year. And as the gallery is just a stone’s throw from where Vauxhall Motors began, it’s the perfect place for us to start


We’re driving the New Zafira Tourer Tech Line with the 1.4 Turbo Petrol engine. It’s nippy and supremely quiet, and thanks to the FlexRide chassis system, incredibly smooth, too.

 

On arrival at the gallery, there’s time while parked up outside to open the laptop and take advantage of Vauxhall’s OnStar system, which turns the car into a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and is standard on New Zafira Tourer.

It means we’re able to quickly research the transformation of the gallery from a row of listed buildings into a contemporary space that houses the private collection of artist Damien Hirst.


Vauxhall has plenty of other credits to its name, too. It’s home to spy central – the imposing MI6 British Secret Intelligence Service headquarters situated at Vauxhall Cross that will be familiar to James Bond fans the world over.


Vauxhall Cross is a chaotic interchange, which filters thousands of vehicles from south London back out over the river to the West End, every day. It could be a terrifying experience for those not familiar with the area. Fortunately New Zafira Tourer’s classy, 7-ins touch screen with inbuilt sat nav makes light work of the chaos to keep us on track.

We then head to the tallest sole residential building in the UK – the St George Wharf Tower. It’s hard to the miss the 48-storey skyscraper, also known as the Vauxhall Tower. It stands 181 metres tall and is the all-seeing eye over this section of London’s South Bank, providing a backdrop to almost every shot we take. But getting there can be a challenge.


Time to put Vauxhall’s OnStar service to the test again. We press the blue button in the rear-view mirror and we are instantly connected to a friendly advisor who sends the destination direct to our sat nav as we drive. Within seconds, we are heading in the right direction. It’s very impressive and highly convenient if you need to navigate on the move.

But for now we’re back on the road and searching for Vauxhall’s other record-breaking building. Counter Vauxhall Arches is allegedly London’s longest restaurant, and stretches the width of the railway arches. The wine-bar cum brasserie boasts a glamorous interior that deliberately harks back to the 18th century and the hedonistic days of Vauxhall’s Pleasure Gardens, now little more than scrubland.

Around the corner, though, Brunswick House is a glorious Georgian mansion, once set in three acres of grounds and home to the Dukes of Brunswick. Today, it is conspicuously hemmed in by hi-rise buildings, and houses architectural salvage for sale.


The 150-year-old Vauxhall Griffin pub is another genuine piece of Vauxhall history – and all the more interesting to us because it deliberately references the motor manufacturer’s logo. In fact, the company first started across the road from the pub almost 160 years ago. Landlord John Coello said he adopted the name when he started running the pub in 2006.

Across the road, we stumble upon our best find of the day. A plaque fixed to the wall of a Sainsbury’s supermarket, which marks the exact spot on Wandsworth Road where Vauxhall Motors first began its journey in 1857. A giant graphic inside the store, which depicts the area’s history, reveals Vauxhall’s first car was built here in 1903, and was nicknamed “The Horseless Carriage”.

Before heading home, we stop off at the Oval, the international cricket ground a 10-minute walk from Vauxhall tube station, and New Covent Garden Market, the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable, and flower market in the UK. It’s visited by 75% of London’s florists and supplies ingredients to many of the city’s top restaurants.


The US Embassy will arrive on Vauxhall’s doorstep this year, too. It’s currently housed in a Grade II listed building in Grosvenor Square, in Mayfair, but that’s being converted into a luxury hotel. Its new home on the South Bank will be a modern, high-security building covered in bomb-resistant glazing.

In fact, we pass so many glass-fronted buildings in Vauxhall that it’s hard not to admire the New Zafira Tourer’s reflection as we pass. Most striking among its new features are Vauxhall’s signature double-winged LED daytime running lights taken from Astra and New Mokka X that, when combined with the new grille and muscular wheel arches, make for a more sophisticated yet elegant design.


The family-friendly nature of New Zafira Tourer means it is packed with a host of clever innovations aimed at improving safety and comfort. The optional Front Camera System provides advanced driver aids including Traffic Sign Recognition to detect speed limits, Blind Spot Alert and Lane Departure Warning to stop you straying on long motorway journeys. Automatic Cruise Control will maintain a pre-set speed and slow you down if required to maintain a safe distance to the car in front. It is also worth remembering that Vauxhall OnStar’s automatic crash response service is also capable of locating your exact position in the event of an accident and dispatching the emergency services if required.

Our people carrier also works very hard to keep you comfortable, with optional heated seats and steering wheel and unprecedented flexibility. For example, the FlexRail® console system allows the centre console to be slid back along its rails to reveal lots of hidden storage space between the front seats.


The ingenious Flex7® seating system, which comes as standard across the range, gives you the option of several possible seating configurations for passengers in the back – and all without needing to remove or reinstall seats. Our Tech Line model comes with the Lounge Seating option. When you fold down and rotate the back of the middle seat in the second row, a spacious lounge layout is created. These seats can also slide back to create even more legroom.

With all the seats folded flat, there’s a massive 1,860 litres of load space on offer. But even in five-seat mode, there’s still 710 litres of luggage space.


And if economy is key, the 1.6CDTi ecoFLEX engine available on New Zafira Tourer is the most impressive in the line-up, at 62.8mpg on the combined cycle.


The New Zafira Tourer feels like a very safe pair of hands. And when it comes to buying new family car, what more could you want?