Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Vauxhall Meriva: Test Drive Review
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Vauxhall Meriva: Test Drive Review

Date: 12 April 2010   |   Author:

Category: Mini-MPV
P11D price: £17,365
Key rival: Renault Scenic

It's not that often that the doors are the start point for a test report on a new model, but there really is nowhere more obvious to kick off with the new Meriva.

Vauxhall has developed a system only really seen before on London Taxis and Rolls Royces, where the back doors are rear-hinged, traditionally called 'suicide doors'. Despite appearing odd, this innovation makes it significantly easier to gain access to the rear of the cabin because not only do you enter under a higher point of the roof, it also feels more natural than bending round the door aperture, as you would in a conventional model, especially when putting children in car seats. Both front and rear doors also open to almost a full 90 degrees, making entry and exit to the Meriva a great deal simpler than any rival model.

According to GM's technical team, it's taken considerable engineering effort, and having sampled the arrangement, it's difficult to spot a downside, other than front and rear passengers having to stagger their exits in tighter parking spots to avoid running into each other going for the same gap.

The rear doors lock automatically once the car is on the move, too, and can't be opened at all until it's at a standstill, allaying worries about people falling forward through the gap if they open the door by accident.

Away from the doors, Vauxhall is confusingly claiming to have moved the Meriva up a segment. Traditionally, it had competed with supermini-MPVs such as Nissan's Note, but the brand now reckons it's a rival for mini-MPVs such as Ford's C-max or the Renault Scenic. In fact, it now falls somewhere between the two, either the largest and most expensive supermini-MPV or the smallest and cheapest mini-MPV.

The new model is 236mm longer than its predecessor, although still shorter than any of its new mini-MPV rivals, and a 400-litre boot space is actually smaller than the old Meriva (415 litres), Scenic (437 litres) and Citroen C4 Picasso (500 litres).

Interior storage space is, however, much better. Vauxhall has researched the 20 items most likely to be stored in a car and claims all 20 will slot into a Meriva. There's certainly more space for the smaller ones, but the door pockets and glovebox don't lend themselves to stashing larger items.

The rear seats benefit from Vauxhall's Flex technology, and slide forward and back. It's also possible to drop the centre seat and slide the outer two back and closer together to create more leg and shoulder room. In either configuration, there's plenty of head and leg room for four adults.

On the outside, the Meriva looks classy, if not anything that will stand out from the crowd, and the inside will please anyone that likes the Insignia or Astra, as it's fundamentally the same layout offering good quality of materials. To drive, it will certainly satisfy the needs of the kind of person that drives this class of family-orientated vehicle. It's no sports car, predictably, but rides comfortably, although with a surprising amount of road noise at higher speed.

The engine range is currently three 1.4-litre versions of various outputs, two with turbocharging to provide the power of the 1.6 and 1.8 engines they replace. The 120hp 1.4 driven here had plenty of performance, and emits 143g/km of CO2. At present, the lowest-emitting model is the 1.3-litre diesel, but a sub-120g/km Ecoflex model is expected later this year.

Vauxhall has priced the car at around £1200 cheaper than the seven-seat Zafira, as effectively a five-seat competitor sitting below its bigger brother in the same segment. How easily the message can be transmitted that the Meriva can now be considered alongside established people-carrier rivals, even if it is the smallest of those vehicles, remains to be seen, but it's a good, family-orientated vehicle with innovation that stretches beyond those clever doors.

Vauxhall Meriva 1.4 VVT Turbo 120hp
P11D price£17,365
Model price range£15,495-£21,255
Fuel consumption46.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 143g/km (17%)
BIK 20/40% per month£49/£98
Service interval20,000mls
Insurancegroup tbc
Boot space (min/max)400/1500 litres
Engine size/power1398cc/120hp
Top speed/0-62mph117mph/11.5secs
On sale 19 June 2010
VerdictThere’s more to the Meriva than
just clever doors, although
falling between two segments
may work against it.


There’s more to the Meriva than just clever doors, although falling between two segments may work against it.