Meriva 1.4T 120PS Exclusiv
upon a time your flexible
was your credit card
all-new Meriva mid-sized
MPV that uses Flex
in the form of FlexDoors, FlexRail
centre console storage and
FlexSpace rear seating system...
THE ALL-NEW MERIVA IS NO LONGER A MINI MPV it has moved up in
size to become a four/five-seater family segment MPV with smarter user-friendly
features, better equipment levels, better quality and a higher price.
Although the range actually starts at a lower price of £12,995 (for the 1.4-litre
98bhp petrol Expression version), the mainstream models show an average price
increase of £1,200 although Vauxhall says this reflects the advantages the newcomer
has over the old.
Engines are 1.4 petrol (normally-aspirated and turbocharged) with power outputs
of 100, 118 and 138bhp and 1.3 and 1.7-litre CDTI turbodiesel units with 97
and 104bhp still to come are 93 EcoFlex and 135bhp CDTI units. The 118bhp
petrol engine will be the most popular, followed by the price-leading 98bhp
petrol version. Trim and equipment levels on offer are Expression, S, the best-selling
Exclusiv and SE. Vauxhall expects the new Meriva to sell over 20,000 units a
year in the UK a bit more than the outgoing model.
The new model is 4,228mm in length, up from the 4,052mm of the old Corsa-based
version. The new model uses a revised suspension layout from the previous Meriva
but with a floorpan associated with the seven-seat Vauxhall Zafira MPV. Inside,
the design and layout of the controls, instruments and overall the higher quality
reflects the theme offered by the new Astra and Insignia ranges.
But it is the FlexDoors system that will grab all the headlines. FlexDoors are
rear-hinged back doors which swing open towards the back of the car at an angle
of nearly 90 degrees, vastly improving the ease with which occupants enter and
leave the cabin. Rather than having to step back, or to one side
as one would using a normal front-hinged door the FlexDoors allows
unimpeded forward access to and from the cabin, enhanced further by the Meriva's
high roof line.
For parents with children, there are further benefits: due to the larger door
opening and free space around the B-pillar, parents can lift small children
forwards in to rear-mounted, second-stage child seats without having to contort
themselves around a door. And with both the front and rear doors open (the fronts
open at a similar angle to the rear FlexDoors) there's a parent-friendly 'loading
zone'. And for ladies wearing short skirts there is an added element of modesty
when stepping in or out of the rear cabin.
obvious safety reasons, the FlexDoors cannot be opened by occupants while the
Meriva is travelling at more than 2mph, after which the doors automatically
lock. The sophisticated system also warns drivers if a door is not completely
previous model with
a better specification,
better quality and better
rear seat access, its
generally a much more
The concept of rear-hinged back doors is not new in the motor industry
cars in the 1930's, 40's and 50s used this system for front and rear doors as
did London cabs; and as still today do Rolls-Royce, Mazda (RX-8 Coupe) and MINI
(Clubman). But the Meriva's FlexDoors system is the first time it has been used
on a family car in recent years and unlike other rear-hinged door applications,
the Meriva benefits from front and rear doors that open independently. As yet
the Meriva has not received its EuroNCAP safety rating but Vauxhall is sure
it will achieve a five-star passenger safety ranking.
While this system really works and looks safe, the wide opening front and rear
side doors do lose some of their benefit because they cannot be fully opened
when the car is parked in the ever-shrinking parking bays in car parks, particularly
The other 'Flex' technologies include a FlexRail storage centre console between
the front seats and FlexSpace rear seating where the 40:20:40 split rear seats
slide fore and aft for optimum legroom; and if the narrower centre seat is not
being used, the outer ones can slide inwards to improve shoulder room. The load
space in the longer new Meriva is good as well, ranging from 400 litres with
the rear seats in use to 920 litres up to the window level with the rear seats
folded and a maximum 1,500 litres if the car is loaded to the roof.
So the new Meriva is a user-friendly and versatile package with a wide range
of engine options. During the UK media press launch, only two engine options
were available as the car does not go on sale for a few weeks (June 2010). There
was the main-selling 1.4-litre turbocharged 118bhp petrol unit and the same
capacity turbocharged 138bhp engine.
Do not be put off by the turbocharging aspect. Modern direct injection, smaller
capacity petrol engines with variable valve and variable fuel injection timings
boosted by turbochargers are the answer to engine downsizing. They provide more
power, improved fuel consumption and better torque than the larger units they
118bhp engine produces 129lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm giving the driving characteristic
of a turbodiesel unit. Average fuel economy is 46.3mpg but unfortunately I cannot
give you an actual real-life figure as the best-selling Exclusive model I tried,
although it has an on-board computer, strangely doesn't include an average miles-per-gallon
readout. I suspect that 40+mpg will be realistically possible. The 1.4 turbo
138bhp/147lb ft petrol engine with SE trim did have the fuel consumption readout:
officially its combined figure is 42.2mpg but in real life my test car returned
system is the first time
it has been used on
a family car
in recent years...
Both engines are fine for most people but they can be harsh and noisy when pushed.
The 118bhp unit did run out of puff on hills to some extent and the car wasn't
loaded. The 138bhp was more responsive and, of course, gave a sportier drive
but it costs £775 more and the annual road tax bill is £155 against the £125
of the 118bhp unit. The Meriva is a very smart car so I'm sure Meriva owners
will make their own smart choice.
For Exclusiv models all the usual feature apply: electrically-operated windows
and mirrors, air conditioning, stability control, cruise control, curtain airbags
and a good sound system.
Ride comfort was good and stability was fine although it is a tall car and there
was some body roll during cornering but not enough to unsettle the car or its
passengers so perhaps the age old cry of "Are we there yet" will now be a thing
of the past.
Against? The increase in price and size might deter current Meriva owners from
trading up to the new model, engine noise when pressing on, wind noise from
the rear side door seals and the fact that the wide opening side doors are limited
in their use in some car parking spaces. For: roomier than the previous model,
better specification, better quality, better rear seat access and generally
a much more clever vehicle. David Miles
Vauxhall Meriva 1.4T 120PS Exclusiv | £17,365
Maximum speed: 117mph | 0-62mph: 11.5 seconds | Overall MPG: 46.3mpg
Power: 118bhp | Torque: 129lb ft | CO2 143g/km