From £11,6257
Excellent new four-pot diesel and revised manual gearbox breathes fresh life into the Vauxhall Meriva

Our Verdict

Vauxhall Meriva

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

24 January 2014

What is it?

Since its launch in 2010 the second-generation Vauxhall Meriva has been one of few bright spots for General Motors’ struggling European operations. Some 400,000 have been sold, mainly to families whose priorities centre on practicality and low running costs.

Now, in an effort to boost its competitiveness in a tough market segment, the cleverly configured Meriva has become one of the first model’s to receive Vauxhall’s new 1.6 four-cylinder common rail CDTI diesel engine, following on from its appearance in the Zafira late last year.

The new oil burner replaces Vauxhall’s old 1.7-litre CDTI unit and comes as standard with a revised six-speed manual gearbox or optional six-speed automatic. With 134bhp and 234lb ft of torque, it kicks out 5bhp and 15lb ft more than its predecessor, and in combination with the manual gearbox it is claimed to deliver an 10.9mpg improvement in combined cycle consumption at 64.2mpg. 

Resultingly, the Meriva’s CO2 emission output has dropped from a previous 139g/km to 116g/km, saving potential customers £95 in annual road tax.

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

Join the debate

Comments
7

24 January 2014
"The new 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel is a fine engine – better than many from so-called premium car makers"

That's almost a pop at VW, have Autocar had some sort of anti-bias meltdown. I expect threats of advertising revenue downturn to restore the bias some time soon

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

24 January 2014
Autocar cant win can they, they like it and you slate them for liking, they say it is better than rivals and you slate it, if they said that it is worse than the opposition you would then say it is bias towards the other brand.

Why cant you be constructive rather than always being someone that provokes people, it makes you look silly.

24 January 2014
It’s a LIGHT-HEARTED opinion that can be seen as praising the Vauxhall.
One of last ‘constructive’ posts was “not the prettiest of things, but then no BMWs are these days” people in green houses etc.
You’ve made yourself look silly by trying to have a pop at me for making a light comment, will you post against everyone who mentions an opinion regarding journalists bias?

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

24 January 2014
Wow! That is some amount of buttons on the centre console!

And Jonboy, totally with you on that one

24 January 2014
I've said before when the stats for this engine were released that they are very impressive! Similar outputs to some 2.0 TDI's.
Compared to my 1.6TDI Audi A1;
BHP: 134 vs 105
lbft: 234 vs 184 (I think this is especially impressive).

"Why is http://www.nanoflowcell.com not getting more media attention? It could be the future... Now!"

24 January 2014
The 1.7 WAS NOT "Vauxhall's" engine, it was the Isuzu circle K engine. No word on this 1.6's origins - is it a development of the Fiat JTD unit, like the GM 2.0 CDTi is ? Or entirely new ? The Fiat 1.6 JTD makes 120 bhp and 236 lbs/ft in its most powerful state of tune as used in the Mito and some Bravos (but bizarrely only 105 in the "sporty" Alfa Giulietta - go figure). It was the most powerful/torqueful 1.6 diesel until this 1.6 CDTi, so the former seems likely. Can we have some facts Autocar ?

24 January 2014
typos1 wrote:

The 1.7 WAS NOT "Vauxhall's" engine, it was the Isuzu circle K engine. No word on this 1.6's origins - is it a development of the Fiat JTD unit, like the GM 2.0 CDTi is ? Or entirely new ? The Fiat 1.6 JTD makes 120 bhp and 236 lbs/ft in its most powerful state of tune as used in the Mito and some Bravos (but bizarrely only 105 in the "sporty" Alfa Giulietta - go figure). It was the most powerful/torqueful 1.6 diesel until this 1.6 CDTi, so the former seems likely. Can we have some facts Autocar ?

You're forgetting Renault's 1.6 dCi which pumps out 130bhp and 236lb/ft and has been available for about 2 years.

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