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Vauxhall's baby MPV gets a complete overhaul

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Meriva
It’s longer and more expensive, but does bigger mean better?

The Vauxhall Meriva, with its rear-hinged back doors, is a more mature car than before, but little more innovative

What is it?

The all-new Meriva replacement. Car enthusiasts might be forgiven for having overlooked the first Vauxhall Meriva, easily dismissed as a worthy mini-MPV, best suited for a trip to Tesco. In fact, Vauxhall/Opel chalked up its millionth Meriva sale last July.

The new Meriva builds on the exceptional interior flexibility of the old model, but it’s bigger, rather more sophisticated and pioneers rear-hinged rear doors doors as the ideal solution for a family car.

What’s it like?

At 4.28m long, the Meriva is marginally shorter than the Zafira, but is probably best seen as a direct alternative to the new Astra. Its semi-raised driving position, sliding and expanding (widthways) rear seats and the huge open-air storage bin running down the centre of the car make the Meriva a notably practical proposition. The rear-hinged doors are a masterstroke, making it easier to get in the rear cabin, whatever your age or size.

The new Meriva is also much more of premium product - an expression of Vauxhall/Opel’s desire to inch itself upmarket with every new product launch. The car’s dash and interior are a league ahead - nicely drawn and nicely made. Aside from a few hard plastics in hidden areas, there’s an air of quality.

Although the chassis settings have not been changed for the UK, the steering has been remapped. The EU-spec steering has a strong self-centring action, whereas UK cars aim to ‘reflect the reality’ of what’s happening at the tyre’s contact patches.

Driven back to back, there’s no doubt the UK-developed steering is better, allowing the driver to more actively steer the car around. The ride and handling are best described as neat and tidy. It’s rather more single-minded than the compact-MPV norm, but it can get a little noisy and occasionally upset by broken road surfaces.

This Meriva had the higher-powered version of the 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine. Both units a somewhat noisy under hard acceleration and this 137bhp version also marginally more strained at the top end. However, the test car had just 196 miles on the clock, so it’s unfair to make a definitive judgment about the motor’s ultimate refinement.

Should I buy one?

This is a highly innovative compact MPV, with superb interior flexibility. It’s well made and pleasant to drive, and the rear-hinged doors and configurable rear seat just can’t be matched by the opposition. It’s much more practical than the similar-size and similarly priced Astra.

Overall, a very clever and appealing machine, if one priced against the Ford C-Max and Citroen C4 rather than smaller, more conventional, mini-MPVs.

Join the debate

Comments
38

8 April 2010

Wow..Vauxhall does innovation !

The sliding back seats is a great idea and should be standard for all cars. Not sure about the reversed back doors, but will reserve opinion until I try them. They look awfully narrow to me.

8 April 2010

Fantastic car. This is the real Astra. The Astra is too long, too heavy, too cramped in the back seats.

Opel/Vauxhall excel at these family MPV cars, not the GM-platform constrained clones, like the Astra/Cruze, although the Insignia is good. The next Zafira is due out end of this year and spy shots show it'll probably rob sales from the Insignia as this Meriva will from the Astra.

Hilton, why are some Merivas shown with a black outline around the headlight units and others, like in your pictures, without? Prefer the black-outlined look personally

with outline:

without:

Prices released for the new Vauxhall Meriva

8 April 2010

Looks like a good all-round family car - after the initial wince at the price...

Am I right in thinking the central storage bin has a the option of different inserts that can be moved about?

Much more sensible than the space robbing version in the Mini countryman - the car is much better looking too. Not that it will bother potental Mini buyers...


8 April 2010

Many will see the price and balk, but you've tested the very top of the range petrol, the 1.4i 16V VVT Turbo(140PS), to give it its full name, which actually is £18,920 on the road, not the £18,145 you put.

Prices start at a low £12,995 on the road for the 100 horsepower 1.4i 16V VVT Expression, which for an Astra/Golf-sized car, with far more functionality, is very good. Vauxhall have obviously learnt their lesson from the Astra's pricing, with this Meriva undercutting the cheapest Astra by a full grand.

8 April 2010

This is a great looking car and deserves to succeed. The interior design is very clever and the adaptability and usefullness should be a big it, far more useful than a conventional car like the Astra and considerably better looking. Having baulked at the price in the headlines, I guess if it is the top of the range and well equipped it is probably in line with its competitors. I look forward to seeing it in the metal and trying out those rear doors. Well done Vauxhall, I say.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

8 April 2010

I quite like this. My question would be whether they can make the mid-spec cars competitive on price (say 120bhp petrol/diesel, some kit) - though somewhere around £14k would make sense with the start and end points given. I'm not so much a fan of the dashlayout, but I don't like any of the new Vauxhall dashes, they've gone down the route I thought Honda had already proved wrong in the Accord - the "more buttons = more quality". Bit of a cluttered mess.

8 April 2010

[quote nicksheele]The next Zafira is due out end of this year [/quote]

Afraid not.

[quote nicksheele]Hilton, why are some Merivas shown with a black outline around the headlight units and others, like in your pictures, without?[/quote]

Black ones are AFL

8 April 2010

[quote Dave52]

[quote nicksheele]The next Zafira is due out end of this year [/quote]

Afraid not.

[/quote]

looks pretty finished to me:

Vauxhall Zafira

AutoExpress got it wrong(launch at Paris IAA 2010)?: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/250471/vauxhall_zafira_out_in_the_open.html

The new Zafira will debut at the Paris Motor Show in September, with sales starting in the UK in early 2011
Are you out of the loop at Opel/Vauxhall, Dave?
AFL - Adaptive Forward Lighting - Ta.

8 April 2010

Vauxhall bring out a 1.6 vxr version again :)

8 April 2010

I think kids will hold onto the central pillar splitting the front and rear doors when they climb in. Mum, in a rush, a bit quicker into the car, will slam the door and crush the fingers of said child. I wouldn't buy one because of this.

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