New Vauxhall Meriva spied ahead of 2017 release

26 Jan, 2016 10:00am James Batchelor

New winter testing shots of Vauxhall's mini-MPV show SUV-like design, likely to be unveiled at start of next year

While Vauxhall's new GT Coupe will be its star motor show debut this year, the more practical offerings haven't been forgotten. The Luton firm's Meriva MPV has been spied out and about in disguise before we see it next year.

Vauxhall previously told Auto Express that both the next Meriva and Zafira MPVs would take on a more SUV-like design approach. While that's expected to be most evident in the latter, these spies show a raised ride height and more upright stance for the five-seat Meriva.

Along with the Zafira, the Meriva will be dubbed by Vauxhall ‘Crossover Utility Vehicles’ or ‘CUVs’. It’ll grow the firm's current two-prong SUV range of Mokka and Antara to four; all offering different takes on the current SUV trend.

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A source told Auto Express last year that thanks to a new agreement with PSA Peugeot Citroen, Vauxhall/Opel will be able to replace its Meriva and Zafira MPVs with two new SUVs. The partnership will allow the two big brands to share development costs 50:50 and each have new SUVs on sale in 2017.

Behind the matte black disguise, the Vauxhall grille is clear to see as are slim headlights and the brand’s distinctive tick-shaped daytime running lights, similar to those on the new Astra. Along the sides, the prototype wears lsheets of  cladding covering up shapely bodypanels; the C-pillar is angular just like Astra and the Meriva should get the same mock-floating roof look thanks to a slim black-painted strip on the C-pillar.

To the rear, there are high-set rear lights and a squared off tailgate hinting at a large amount of rear interior space. It's not clear yet whether the Meriva will directly square-up with the Ford B-Max, or, thanks to a growth spurt, take on the larger C-Max.

The Meriva and Zafira replacements won’t be the only new SUVs in Vauxhall’s range though. General Motors’ chief executive officer, Mary Barra, confirmed in November last year that Opel will build a brand new large SUV at its Russelsheim plant in Germany, due for release in 2020 – likely to replace the ageing Antara. The three new SUVs will be part of a 27-strong model offensive by Opel/Vauxhall which also includes 17 new engines.  

What do you think of the Vauxhall Meriva's move over to the crossover market? Let us know in the comments section below...