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In-depth reviews

Vauxhall Meriva (2014-2017) review

The innovative Vauxhall Meriva offers family-friendly transport thanks to its versatile seating and wide-opening doors

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Innovative doors, upmarket interior, flexible seating arrangement
  • Pricey, poor residuals, 1.7-litre diesel is expensive to run

The Meriva compact MPV’s stand-out feature is a novel rearwards-opening rear passenger door set-up. It is reasonably effective, but it doesn’t create as wide an opening as the sliding side doors used on the Ford B-MAX.

On the plus side, the Meriva features an upmarket cabin that features plenty of soft touch materials and is robustly constructed. It’s practical, too.

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The Meriva also offers a reasonably grown-up driving experience. Composed handling and decent refinement give the little Vauxhall a bigger car feel, while the supple ride does a good job of soaking up bumps. But the engine range is disappointing, with dated petrol units and some noisy diesels.

The Vauxhall Meriva is a supermini-based MPV that’s designed to rival practical models such as the Ford B-MAX and Nissan Note. At the heart of the Vauxhall’s appeal are its novel ‘suicide’ rear-hinged back doors that have been added to boost access.

This is the second-generation Meriva, and it’s already been around long enough to have seen a facelift in 2014. In fact the Meriva B (to give it its full name) first went into production in 2010 at GM’s factory at Zaragoza in Spain.

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The current car is a little larger than the first generation Meriva sold from 2003 to 2010, which was based on the contemporary Corsa platform. This car was developed from a new platform based on the larger Zafira’s underpinnings, but with suspension re-engineered from the older Meriva.

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The Meriva has an interior that shares much in common with the 2009 Astra. It majors on practicality in spite of its compact dimensions, with a rear bench that slides to improve legroom or boost boot space. Also, the individual rear seats can be moved together or pulled apart to create four or five-seat layouts. Elsewhere there’s a neat Flex-rail system that runs between the front seats and can be configured to hold extra storage and cupholders.

The engine line-up is less impressive. The 1.4-litre petrol units are getting on a bit and trial the best in class when it comes to running costs, while the 1.7-litre CDTi diesel is noisy and sluggish. Best of the bunch is the recently introduced 1.6-litre CDTi that combines smooth and punchy performance with decent fuel economy.

As with other Vauxhall models, the Meriva suffers from an extremely confusing model line-up – buyers can choose from Life, S, Exclusiv, Energy, Tech Line and SE trim levels. Some are aimed at private buyers, while the others are intended to appeal to company car users. 

All versions get air-conditioning, electric windows and central locking. However, the Life, which undercuts the equivalent S by nearly £4,000, adds alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and a leather steering wheel to this tally. A panoramic sunroof is a feature of top spec versions.

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