Vauxhall is extending its VXR performance brand into bizarre new territory with the Meriva VXR mini-MPV. The smallest VXR-badged car yet, the Meriva will make its public debut at the Essen motor show on November 25 before going on sale in February next year as part of the facelifted Meriva range.
The new car is expected to cost around £16,500, which looks expensive alongside the larger and more powerful Seat Leon 2.0TFSI Sport at £15,995, but compares well with the 170bhp, £17,195 Smart Forfour Brabus.
Power comes from a new turbocharged 1598cc petrol engine - also likely to power next year's Corsa VXR - which produces 178bhp at 5500rpm and 170lb ft of torque from 2200-5500rpm. Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and driving through the front wheels it propels the Meriva from rest to 62mph in 8.2sec and on to a 138mph maximum. Ecoinomy remains reasonable, with a claimed 36.2mpg average and CO2 emissions of 187g/km.
Vauxhall claims the Meriva ‘will be able to hold its own against any modern hot hatchback’ and has given it 15mm lower sports suspension and standard ESP. The generous equipment list will also include air conditioning, CD, 17in alloy wheels and an aggressive bodykit to match the VXR Astra, Zafira and Vectra. Like its siblings the Meriva boasts part-leather Recaro front seats, retaining the neat FlexSpace folding rear bench of lowlier models.