Fascinating trip to Russelsheim (which is still the home of Opel) to see the new Meriva – or rather to see how and why Opel ended up equipping this mini-MPV with rear-hinged doors.

Now you may see the Meriva as just the kind of car you would never buy, and it is aimed at young families and older, retired types, but the process of developing any car is much the same and the one thing that always strikes me when I meet the engineers involved in taking a car from an idea to a real, tangible object is the total immersion these people put themselves into.

Vauxhall Meriva - first pictures

Take the doors on the Meriva. Nobody’s done these on a car the size of the Meriva before- in fact, nobody’s done two full-size rear hinged doors that can open independently of the fronts on anything other than a Rolls Phantom or a London cab in recent years.

So back in 2005 Opel took a current Meriva and cobbled together some rear-hinged doors for it with the aim of improving access to the back seats, especially for adults strapping kids in and for the elderly. People liked the idea, and Opel went on to the next stage – how to construct it.