Vauxhall Meriva review
The innovative Vauxhall Meriva offers family-friendly transport thanks to its versatile seating and wide-opening doors
There is lots to admire about the Vauxhall Meriva - its engine range is strong and includes an excellent 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit that's smooth, powerful and economical. The Insignia inspired interior is one of the best in class, while the car rides and drives almost as well as the Ford Focus. But its the unique door arrangement and versatile seating that are standout. The doors are hinged on opposite edges, meaning they open at almost 90 degrees, and allow you uninterrupted access to the front and rear seats at the same time. List prices are high though – the mid-range Exclusiv trim makes most sense.
Our choice: Meriva 1.4t (120) SE (a/c)
It's a case of form over function for the Vauxhall Meriva. Though it's neatly styled, the high roofline and double door arrangement take centre stage. The cockpit is drab but doesn't lack appeal. The Meriva's FlexSpace seating arrangement allows you to slide the rear bench forward and backwards, and push chairs inwards to switch from a five-seater into a more spacious four-seater. There are grab handles to aid seat access, while the driver chair offers a commanding view of the road ahead. There is a wide range of trims, from entry level Expression to top spec SE, but none offer the luxury of Korean rivals Hyundai or Kia. The most economical versions wear an Ecoflex badge.
There's no doubting the appeal of the Mervia's 1.3 and 1.7-litre diesel engines. The two units are available in four states of tune, from 73bhp to 128bhp. However, our pick is the 118bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol. It’s quiet at cruising speeds, but with only 175Nm of torque needs to be worked hard to make the most of the performance. Vauxhall claims 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds. On winding roads, the Meriva handles well. The blend of well weighted steering, strong grip and good body control means plenty of agility. On rough roads it's reasonably comfortable, with supple suspension soaking up bumps easily and making long motorway journeys a breeze.
Vauxhall knows a thing or two about building reliable, safe cars, so the fact that the Meriva offers a five star EuroNCAP test result should come as no surprise. The Meriva also scores highly in our Driver Power satisfaction survey. The proven engines and robust design ensure that the car makes a reliable choice.
The Vauxhall Meriva has a spacious 400 litre boot with an under floor compartment. Seats also fold completely flat to create an enormous 1500 litre load space that's 1.75 meters long. In the cabin, there are lots of useful storage draws and spaces, including door pockets big enough to hold a one litre drinks bottle upright. Strapping in child seats is a breeze, and robust grab handles ensure you can reach both sides of the rear bench without having to clamber over seats. Vauxhall also offers the FlexRail in SE equipped cars. This is a bar running the entire length of the cabin, on to which a variety of movable and secure stowage bins an be fixed.
High list prices and steep depreciation make the Meriva look poor value for money next to rivals like the Kia Venga and Hyundai ix20. At least its engine range is efficient, with top performing Ecoflex badged 1.3-litre diesel engined cars returning as much as 62.8mpg.