Meriva 1.3 CDTi ecoFlex 95PS Exclusiv
got something in common with
Rolls-Royce, London black cabs, the
Mazda RX-8 and the MINI Clubman
estate and family Brits love it!
also got a new 1.3-litre ecoFlex
VERSATILE MULTI-PURPOSE VEHICLES are big business. Last year, UK buyers snapped
up 124,209 of them. Of course, MPVs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from
the newly-emerging compacts such as Ford's soon-to-arrive B-Max and medium
size models like Vauxhall's market-leading Meriva to large versions such
as the Renault Espace or the truly large Chrysler Grand Voyager.
In these financially hard times, some new car buyers (and company car users
too) are switching to vehicles offering multiple passenger space as well as
versatile load carrying abilities. While MPVs appear to be more socially acceptable,
they're also visually more desirable than a humble hatchback which is another
reason why downsizers find them appealing.
Which brings us to the Meriva. The UK is Europe's best market for Vauxhall's
smart MPV. In fact, we family Brits love it over 12,000 have been
sold here since its June 2010 debut.
the time of the Meriva's launch I did have some doubts as to the public's acceptance
of its revolutionary design.
black cabs, the Mazda
RX-8 and the MINI
Clubman estate all have
similar rear side-door
layouts but the Meriva
was the first volume
selling family car to have
them. Time, however,
has proved that
Vauxhall has a winner...
My doubts 'hinged' upon the Meriva's forward-opening, rear-hinged rear side-doors.
Admittedly Rolls-Royce, London black cabs, the Mazda RX-8 and the MINI Clubman
estate all have similar rear side-door layouts but the Meriva was the first
volume selling family car to have them. Time, however, has proved that Vauxhall
has a winner.
much-liked Meriva range has recently received two additional diesel engine options.
The first is the 1.3 CDTi ecoFlex 95PS (93bhp), the lowest emissions model in
the range with a CO2 figure of 119g/km and prices starting from £17,970.
In terms of purchase price this is more costly than what I believe is the best
model in the range for retail buyers the 1.4T 118bhp petrol engine
which costs from £16,585. The second new powerplant is the most powerful diesel
engine, the 128bhp 1.7 CDTi, priced from £19,140.
Now that diesel fuel is considerably more expensive than petrol, retail customers
must be shifting their thoughts back from 'oil burners' to unleaded drinkers.
For family cars the rule of thumb guide for anyone driving less than 15,000
miles per year is that it pays to be powered by petrol.
When it comes to choosing the engine for your Meriva there's certainly no shortage
of powerplant or spec options. Actually, there are 29 different variants within
the engine line-up comprehensively covering all requirements. There are new
generation 1.4-litre, variable valve timed 16V petrol units ranging in power
outputs from 98bhp (normally aspirated) to 118bhp and 138bhp turbocharged units;
there are 1.3 and 1.7-litre CDTi turbodiesel units of 73 to 128bhp. Specification
and equipment levels are Expression, S, Excite, Exclusiv and SE (depending on
the engine). Prices vary from a modest £12,995 to £21,730.
My latest drive in a Meriva was with the lowest CO2 (just 119g/km), and potentially
most fuel-frugal, new 93bhp 1.3 CDTi ecoFlex which officially manages an average
of 62.8mpg. No road tax is payable for the first year, and after that it's only
£30 per annum.
The four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbodiesel unit generates 93bhp; torque is 133lb
ft from 1,750rpm. With the ecoFlex engine mapping, over 60mpg should be achievable
if the car is not fully laden although my test car didn't quite manage that
my best was 52.1mpg. But even that guarantees more than 600 miles
between forecourt visits.
I can't say the engine is refined, very quiet or indeed swift. It rattles from
cold start-up but although the noise didn't intrude too badly into the vehicle.
The innovative rear-
hinged rear passenger
doors definitely make
for easier access when
belting-up the kids.
Its also handy for more
as they can back
the seats and then
get out with ease in a
Acceleration was a tad tardy: you'll need 13.8 seconds to get from zero to 62mph
and the top speed is 104mph. Performance-wise, it's a convenience car and, more
or less, it does what it says on the label.
The Meriva's styling mirrors the Astra and Insignia families, as well as the
revised Corsa models. The innovative FlexDoors system with rear-hinged rear
passenger doors definitely makes for easier access when belting-up the kids.
It's also handy for more senior passengers as they can 'back' into the seats
and then get out with ease in a forwards direction.
All four of the side doors open wide to 90 degrees, which also aids entry and
exit. However, in the side-by-side parking typically found in car parks, the
extra opening angle is useless as the spaces are so narrow the doors cannot
be fully opened anyway. The same restriction applies to single domestic garages.
However, loading and unloading on driveways and kerbsides the wide-opening feature
Vauxhall's FlexSpace seating combinations (rear seats up/down) are very easy
and light to use and the sliding rear seats are suitable for two adults or three
children. The versatile seating, coupled with the FlexFloor, allows for a minimum
load space of 400 litres up to a huge, given the overall size of the car, 1,500
My Exclusiv test car's equipment level was of a decent specification
it's also the most popular choice but business users will want to add in the
optional mobile 'phone system with Bluetooth (an extra £225). Annoyingly, this
specification does not include two obvious functions that are much needed: the
first being an mpg readout function for the on-board computer.
Surely anybody buying an ecoFlex Meriva would be eager to check on their car's
real-world fuel economy? In theory this model should cover over 700 miles of
motoring between visits to a fuel pump. But with my test vehicle only managing
52.1mpg during typical day-to-day driving on motorways, A- and B-roads and stop/start
driving, perhaps it wouldn't make such good reading…
second missing piece of equipment, which should definitely be fitted as standard,
is front and rear parking sensors. For busy company car drivers or stressed
mums and dads, this family bus surely needs them.
Over 60mpg should be
achievable if the car
is not fully laden
although my test car
quite manage that.
My best was 52.1mpg.
But even that guarantees
more than 600 miles
between fuel stops...
said, the Exclusiv version does offer such items as AirCon, cruise control,
a reasonable quality sound system with Aux-in connection, electronic parking
brake (although it's annoying to use), power-operated and heated door mirrors,
electric front windows, a full array of airbags and other safety related items,
the FlexRail centre storage system, the FlexSpace rear seat fold/locate facility
and the FlexFloor load space. By the way, wheels are steel with trims, not alloy.
Against? Diesel models carry a higher purchase price so petrol models could
be better options for lower mileage users, wide-opening side doors limited for
real-life use in car parks, an 'eco' model with no on-board fuel economy read-out
surely on oversight? And no parking sensors.
In its favour the Meriva is potentially very economical on fuel and it's also
very low for taxation as well as insurance costs. Plus it's a comfortable, compact
and clever mid-sized, five-seater MPV that drives well with safe and predictable
handling. David Miles
Vauxhall Meriva 1.3 CDTi ecoFlex
Exclusiv | £19,145
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-62mph: 13.8 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 93bhp | Torque: 133lb ft | CO2 119g/km