The 69bhp 1.3 CDTI and 108bhp 1.7 CDTI diesel engines continue for the time being. But they retain EU5 compliance, indicating they will be replaced by a more economical 108bhp version of the new engine, with a claimed 74mpg and CO2 emissions of just 99g/km, planned for later this year.
As with the new diesel engine, the Meriva’s 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has been upgraded to meet EU6 emission compliance. It continues to be offered in three states of tune: 73bhp, 87bhp and 102bhp.
Unless you’re a fan of Vauxhall’s compact MPV, the mid-life styling changes are likely to go unnoticed, such is their subtlety. The Meriva’s lightly restyled front end receives a new bumper with a slightly lower grille that resembles that on the recently revamped Insignia. The head and taillights retain the same shape as before but receive new internal graphics mirroring those on the Zafira.
Optional LED daytime running lamps are also offered, otherwise, there is little from a visual standpoint to mark the facelifted model apart from its predecessor.
Interior styling changes are equally understated. There’s a revised infotainment system, which while retaining fiddly operation through a series of buttons, now receives a 7in colour monitor and, as part of an upgraded optional IntelliLink system, boasts enhanced smartphone integration, including voice control and voice output.
An optional rear view camera is also included and the optional FlexRail system has been modified so that it no longer impedes rear seat legroom.
What's it like?
The new diesel delivers punchy and flexible performance across a wide range of revs, making the Meriva 1.6 CDTI an easy car to live with in everyday urban driving conditions.
It pulls eagerly from little more than 1000rpm and, combined with improved shift quality from a reworked six-speed manual gearbox, is a huge improvement on the 1.7-litre oil burner. It is the excellent refinement that impresses most. Commendably quiet and free of vibration up to 4000rpm, the new diesel makes motorway driving a relatively relaxed affair.
The Meriva has never been a particularly sporting drive, and the same applies here. The electro-mechanical steering is direct but devoid of any real feel, although Vauxhall says that British buyers will receive a bespoke calibration. On our Continental drive, the chassis lacked the responsiveness of rivals such as the Ford B-Max.
On German roads, the facelifted Vauxhall felt under-damped. Despite changes to the suspension, the low speed ride remains busy and there is a discernible lack of big bump absorption.
There’s also a good deal of tyre noise and wind buffeting at higher speeds.
One area in which the Meriva desperately needs to sharpen its act is interior quality. The instruments, major controls and low set dashboard fascia are pleasant enough but there’s still some nasty looking plastic further back in the cabin and luggage area. The front seats could also do with added lateral support and firmer cushioning.
Should I buy one?
Still, with a commanding seating position, excellent all round visibility and those clever rear hinged back doors to ease entry into the rear, the Meriva remains a worthy alternative to conventional hatchbacks, even if it lacks dynamic polish.
The new 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel is a fine engine – better than many from so-called premium car makers, although we suspect the upcoming 108bhp version will be even better suited to the revised MPV.
If you’re looking for excellent everyday practicality at a reasonable price, it’ll be worth consideration.
Vauxhall Meriva 1.6 CDTI EcoFlex
Price £19,340 0-62mph 9.9sec Top speed 122mph Economy 64.2mpg CO2 116g/km (combined) Kerb weight 1443kg Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel Power 134bhp at 3500rpm Torque 234lb ft at 2000rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual