Meriva 1.6 CDTi 136PS ecoFLEX SE Start/Stop
is emerging as the front-
runner for what most people want
from their cars these days, whether
buying the baddest SUV or the
slickest supermini and driving down
mean city streets or twisting green
compact MPV, the
Meriva, is one car that is packed full
Not only that, but it comes
with a whisper
that will be as easy on your wallet as
it is on your ears...
LEADING DIRECT TO THE HEART OF ITS MAX-FLEX, people-friendly cabin are a
pair of novel side back doors that are hinged on the C- instead of the traditional
B-pillars. Consequently they open out to the front of the car to create a substantially
larger step-in opening for passengers and perfect for the
stress-free, back-friendly belting-in of child-seat-sized youngsters.
Flex, so far as the Meriva goes, is definitely the name of the game
its multi-configurable FlexSpace rear seating system offers three rear passengers
genuine multi-choices when it comes to individual seating positions; but if
it's boxes rather than bodies that's the need of the moment then the rear seats
can be folded completely flat (and safely locked down) for a maximum cargo loadbay
amounting to 1,496 litres.
when you're carrying three passengers in the back cabin you'll still have a
usable 397 litres for your party's luggage. Pretty good going for a 'compact'
version of anything.
is a term thats
never sounded the least
bit sexy but looks-wise
the Meriva is by no
means a plain-Jane
Far from it it benefits
from some dramatic
curves that would shame
a catwalk model...
'Multi-purpose vehicle' is a term that's never sounded the least bit sexy but
looks-wise the 4.3-metre-long Meriva is by no means a plain-Jane people carrier.
Far from it recently made-over, it benefits from some dramatic
curves that would shame a catwalk model, most notably a shapely rising waistline
punctuated with front and rear door handles set eye-catchingly back-to-back,
a smartly-intertwined glass-and-metal tailgate and a thrusting Vauxhall 'family'
chrome grille flanked by stacked headlights with LED daytime running lights.
In keeping with all the latest models sporting a Griffin on their nose, the
Meriva's cabin is as welcoming as it is well-finished. And spectacularly airy
too, courtesy of the panoramic glass roof set high above the oh-so-easily-adjusted,
active-safety headrests and which extends over both seat rows.
For the driver it's all good news, from the commanding driving position with
a fist of headroom and height-adjustable seatbelt to the logical instrumentation
and switchgear and the close-to-hand gearlever and multifunction (cruise, speed
limiter, phone, audio, and voice) leather-rimmed wheel.
The handbrake is operated by fingertip (the switch is logically sited immediately
behind the gearlever) while all your infotainment needs are managed via the
crisp screen set top-dead-centre of the fascia part of the optional
£1,200 all-singing, all-dancing Navi 950 IntelliLink system. Windows are deep
and visibility fine in all directions which makes reversing and parking without
the help of a rear-view camera or audible sensors easy enough.
Upholstered in an embossed fabric that will temper the heat of summer as well
as the chill of winter, the front seats are well padded and pleasantly bolstered
numerous long trips during our week-long test didn't throw up
a single grumble (and we'd be the first to complain!). They also benefit from
being set high off the floor so lower leg comfort is also good, with the secondary
advantage of making it easy to get in and out.
Another hidden 'plus' is the extra storage solutions incorporated into their
bases: a storage box under the driver's seat; and a large pull-out tray secreted
beneath the front passenger seat. More 'flex' is present is the form of a three-tier
FlexRail centre console system incorporating a sliding tray/cupholder with a
big sliding centre storage module topped with an armrest.
with the Meriva is no hardship at all; it comes fitted with all the essentials
such as power windows (all one-shot up/down) and heated door mirrors, AirCon,
cruise control, ambient lighting, CD/MP3 CD player/stereo radio with USB/iPod
connection and aux-in socket, Bluetooth, multifunction trip computer, dark-tinted
rear windows and, as already mentioned, a panoramic glass roof with an opaque
power-operated sunshade and a straightforward electric parking brake.
maximises load height
at its lowest setting or,
in its uppermost position,
merges the boot floor
seamlessly with the
folded rear seats to
create a long,
flat and easily loaded
There's also plenty of safety kit on board including twin front airbags, front
side-impact bags and full-size curtain airbags along with an Electronic Stability
Programme, tyre pressure monitoring and a 'seatbelt unfastened' warning light
covering the rear seats most likely to be carrying youngsters
who, as we all know, have a tendency to unbuckle when they think Mum's not watching.
A five-star safety rating can also be taken for granted.
Versatile mini-MPVs like the Meriva are not only popular with small families,
for whom their ability to effortlessly cover term-time school-run duties as
easily as deliver up half-term holiday transport for the whole tribe is a major
appeal, but equally so with drivers not encumbered with growing kids but who
also need some 'flex' in their recreational lives for instance,
carrying sports-themed equipment. Triathalon-types might also appreciate the
Meriva's (optional) integrated FlexFix bike carrier that, when duty calls, slides
niftily from out of the rear bumper.
Swing open either of the wide-opening rear-hinged side doors and you'll discover
that getting in the back of a car has never been quite so easy. Once there the
individual seats can easily be slid fore or aft as required to optimise leg
room or maximise boot space. Nice touches include sturdy grabs on the B-pillars,
rear windows that retract completely into the doors, and aviation-style folding
trays with built-in cupholders on the front seatbacks.
Large third side windows help extend uninterrupted views out in all directions
which, with seats set higher than those in front, keeps things interesting for
adults as well as children. Headroom is usable and thanks to a minimal transmission
hump in the floor there's also plenty of room for three pairs of feet side-by-side.
Fitted to the tailgate is a rear wash/wipe is not just useful
but essential for the UK. A low-height loading sill leads into the Meriva's
boot it's regular-shaped and easy to fill to the brim. A two-level
boot maximises load height at its lowest setting or, in its uppermost position,
merges the boot floor seamlessly with the folded rear seats to create a long,
flat and easily loaded cargo hold. If you need a large load-through then the
middle rear seat slides and drops totally out of the way.
of Vauxhall's newest 'Whisper Diesel' engines powered our test Meriva but you
can, if you prefer, have a petrol-drinker. However, with an official combined
figure of 64.2mpg the diesel is a strong temptress at the pumps.
Whisper Diesel unit is
refined and willing
courtesy of the thick
wedge of torque it serves
up along with a real-
In use this so-called 'Whisper' unit is refined and willing courtesy of the
hefty wedge of torque (236lb ft) it serves up between 2,000 and 2,250rpm. Consequently
at that rev-band the sharpest progress comes to those drivers who choose the
right gear an easy enough task given the smooth-changing, six-speed
manual shift action and palm-fitting gearknob. All of which also contributes
to the Meriva's ability for unruffled motorway cruising.
Hard driving over our usual week-long test saw the fuel consumption average
out at 48.9mpg. Factor in emissions of 116g/km that incur no road tax at all
for the first year and then just £30 annually from year two on and you have
an affordable-to-run, very multipurpose car. Top speed, incidentally, is 122mph,
with the benchmark 0-62mph done in a tenth of a second short of 10 seconds.
The Meriva is a family-oriented car and as such the ride comfort is what you'd
expect. That doesn't mean that it's 'soft' the steering and handling
are more than up to press-on driving should there be need for it although for
most owners that won't be the most burning reason for buying one.
For most the fact that it's an easy-to-live-with choice whether family or flexibility
is your number one priority will be of paramount importance. So too will be
the price the 'whisper quiet' and decidedly family-friendly Meriva
range kicks off from a smidgen over £13K. Finally, it's a nice thought that
the only other car with rear-hinged back doors wears a Flying Lady on its grille.
Vauxhall Meriva 1.6 CDTi 136PS ecoFLEX SE Start/Stop
Maximum speed: 122mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Test Average: 48.9mpg
Power: 134bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 116g/km