The new Vauxhall Meriva has moved upmarket and added rear-hinged FlexDoors to its armoury - but does this mean it's better than urban mini-MPV rivals the Renault Scenic and Citroen C3 Picasso?
We're testing a 118bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the Meriva, which will propel it from 0-62mph in 11.5sec. It is in Exclusiv trim.
For comparison we have a 118bhp 1.6-litre Citroen C3 Picasso and a 128bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre Renault Scenic. The C3 Picasso is smaller and cheaper than the Scenic and Meriva, but it's still a five-seat family car, so it's here to see if the others justify the extra money.
The Meriva sits in the middle of the engine and trim range and costs £17,365. The Scenic 1.4 TCE Dynamique costs £18,720, which includes a sat-nav. The top-spec Picasso 1.6 VTi 120 Exclusive is £15,395 on the road, but includes lots of options.
Neither the Citroen nor the Renault is unpleasant to drive, but it's clear that interior space, flexibility and comfort were the development priorities, and that dynamically the main aim was to make the car safe, stable and easy to drive.
The Renault is the most detached of the three to drive. The steering is light to the point that, in low speed manoeuvres, it can feel like the steering wheel is no longer attached to the column. The gearbox is equally vague.
Soft damping also results in a lot of body roll, but it's progressive and the car stable when it's settled into a corner. The soft damping allows the Scenic to absorb the road surface with particular efficiency at urban speeds around town.