Vauxhall Meriva 2006 review

Vauxhall has played it safe with the restyle of its Meriva, but is it enough keep up with the competition?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

It's not the most radical facelift, but a few changes have sharpened up the Meriva's looks, and the new 1.6-litre powerplant is a welcome addition to the engine range. Along with the clever seating arrangement and roomy interior, the Vauxhall continues to be one of the strongest cars in this sector. However, with increasing competition from more eye-catching rivals, it will struggle to win over potential buyers on the lookout for a versatile and interesting supermini-MPV.

Sometimes, car makers pull out all the stops when restyling a model. In other instances, you'd struggle to notice any changes at all. The latter is the case with Vauxhall's new Meriva.

The nose and bumper have been tweaked to bring the supermini-MPV into line with the rest of the range, while fresh tail-lights and a chrome strip are added at the rear. The combined effect is to make the car appear more modern.

Inside, there's new trim, but the overall feel of the cabin hasn't really been changed. As such, it appears well made and the layout is logical, but it's all a bit bland.

Vauxhall has wisely decided to keep the FlexSpace arrangement, which means the seats fold flat, or you can slide them back and stow the centre chair to turn the Meriva into a roomy four-seater. But even in five-seat mode, there's a surprising amount of space for a car in this class.

Our 1.6-litre test car had an all-new petrol engine with Twinport technology. This mixes the fuel more efficiently to give better performance and economy, and is certainly refined. A frugal 1.3-litre CDTI turbodiesel is also available.

Vauxhall has chosen to leave the chassis alone, so the Meriva remains composed through corners and comfortable to drive. But this facelift has done little to challenge the roomier and more distinctive Renault Modus.

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