claim to have invented the small MPV sector of the market when they launched the original Meriva in 2003. Eleven years later, it is one sector of the market that remains relatively strong.
If you want evidence for that statement look at the scramble there is to grab a slice of small MPV sales. Ford have their B-Max
, Citroen have their new C3 Picasso and Nissan have the Note. More recently Fiat have waded in with the Fiat 500L
which I tested here recently.
An MPV is all about offering greater flexibility in terms of space for passengers and loads, plus plenty of options for stowing the ‘stuff’ that every family hauls around with them.
The second generation Vauxhall Meriva has been around for four years now and one of its most novel features is the way the rear doors hinge from the back. Who needs to spend hundreds of thousands on a Rolls Royce, when you can get rear hinged doors on a Meriva?
These doors are Vauxhall’s answer to the same issue that Ford have addressed by the removal of the B-pillar and sliding doors in the Ford B-Max. Rear hinged doors go some way to improving access to the rear seats.
Have you ever tried to fit a youngster into a child seat in a tight parking place, by leaning through conventional rear doors?
With the front opening doors the ‘angle of attack’ (if that isn’t a too military a way of putting it) is better. Once you get used to it, it’s also arguably easier as an adult passenger to get in and out.
It certainly does offer reasonable space for a modestly-sized vehicle and you have the usual flexibility of passenger and load space. Vauxhall has gone flexibility mad, so everything is called Flex something.
The seating system – that’ll be FlexSpace in Vauxhall parlance – has come in for some improvements in this newest version. Then there is FlexRail, which is the console like system that extends down the middle of the passenger compartment with various natty storage areas. And, if you are into cycling, there’s even the Flex-Fix bike carrier which makes a return with this model.
Adding to the load flexibility, there is stowage under the boot floor that comes courtesy of the deletion of a spare wheel. Well, you don’t need that until you really need it
So what is new on this updated Meriva? There is a new, more stylish, look to the front end which now ties in better with the corporate look of other Vauxhall models.
This latest version of the Meriva is also right on the button (if you will excuse the pun) with digital connection. IntelliLink is an £1,200 option on SE models. It provides an interface with your smartphone on the seven-inch dashboard monitor, while also offering all the expected ‘infotainment’ functions, plus navigation with voice control.
Under the skin, the new Meriva comes with a revised range of of three petrol and four diesel variants. My test car was the 140 bhp 1.4-litre petrol turbo.
Vauxhall make great play over how much they have modified the Meriva to suit the particular peculiarities of UK roads. This work has continued and with the aim of improving the ride and handling.
The Meriva certainly can keep up a good pace on cross-country roads, although, on one drive, soon after collecting the keys, I did cause a momentary panic for my passenger.
The brakes proved really eager and – cautiously approaching a blind summit on a one-lane road and suddenly spotting an oncoming vehicle – the Meriva almost stood on its nose with what I thought had been quite a light touch on the brakes.
There was nothing wrong with the Meriva as it was. But, by concentrating on sharpening the appeal, this latest version is better equipped to take on the growing competition.
Vauxhall Meriva SE Turbo 140
Combined fuel consumption 44.8 mpg
CO2 emissions 149 g/km
VED band F
0-62 10.1 seconds
Max speed 140 mph
Boot capacity 397/1496 litres (rear seats folded)