Opel and its sister company Vauxhall are pushing ahead with the development of the next generation Zafira minivan, which was caught here testing by our scoop photographers. The new seven-seat model is expected to grow in dimensions offering improved passenger and luggage space. Unlike the latest Meriva that boasts a pair of suicide doors, the new Zafira will continue to use conventional rear doors.
The sleeker shape of Opel's newcomer can easily be seen beneath the harlequin camouflage, while the pictures suggest that the minivan takes styling cues from both the Insignia and new Astra, including the wing-shaped head lamps.
The interior design will also be more or less inspired by the Astra, while the car's flexibility is reported to have been improved by a revamped three-row flexible seating system providing independent seating for all seven passengers.
The new Zafira will use hardware from the Astra range, so expect a suite of turbocharged diesel and petrol engines, including more eco-friendly and frugal EcoFlex versions and possibly even a sporty OPC / VRX variant.
Look for the next generation of Opel's people mover to make its world premiere at a major international motor show this year with European sales to start in late 2011 or early 2012.
There's no official word about a North American variant, but given that the Zafira is essentially the minivan version of the Astra (which itself forms the base for the new Buick Verano), as well as the fact that Ford is preparing the U.S. launch of the Focus-based C-Max, we wouldn't completely rule out the possibility.