Vauxhall Meriva

From an American giant to a British baby! Vauxhall's supermini-based MPV, the Meriva, may be small, but it's difficult to beat for versatility.

Revisions boost the Meriva's appeal, and the 1.3 CDTI motor is a welcome addition. How-ever, newer rivals have moved the game on, offering more space and better handling. Yes, the Vauxhall has a broad engine line-up, solid build and clever rear seats - but if you pay list price, it begins to look expensive.

From an American giant to a British baby! Vauxhall's supermini-based MPV, the Meriva, may be small, but it's difficult to beat for versatility.

The practical model has gone under the knife and, as well as giving it cosmetic improvements, the brand's surgeons have added a trio of new engines. Auto Express has already driven the storming 178bhp 1.6-litre VXR version in Issue 897, but it's the economical 1.3 CDTI diesel - using the unit from the Corsa and Tigra - that will appeal most to family buyers.

Offering 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of only 135g/km, the 74bhp engine is clean and economical. However, performance won't exactly set the pulse racing, with a 0-60mph sprint time of 16.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 98mph. In reality, though, the little oil-burner is ideal for urban motoring, thanks to a healthy 170Nm torque output and pliant ride. Both the steering and gearbox are light and precise, but watch out for body roll if you are tempted to take corners a little too enthusiastically.

The revamped Meriva boasts new bumpers, a smart grille and classy light clusters at the rear, while clever adaptive headlamps are now fitted to all models. Subtle improvements to the cabin, including fresh upholstery and trim materials, also ensure the model now has Vauxhall's distinctive styling both inside and out.

Despite the Meriva's diminutive exterior proportions, there is plenty of room inside the cabin for five, and rear accommodation is adequate for even tall passengers. The back seats also provide plenty of adjustment, and there is a decent 350-litre boot, too.

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