£13,810 - £22,795 Price range
39 - 64 MPG
The Vauxhall Meriva is a small MPV that has unique backwards opening rear doors and a clever seating system. Because it has a broad range of abilities, the Meriva has quite a few rivals namely the Citroen C3 Picasso, Nissan Note and Ford B-Max.
Prices start from £13,810 and if you buy your new Meriva using carwow you can save £4,660 on average.
In a car designed for family life, the interior can make or brake it and in the Meriva it’s sort of in between. The cabin is airy, there is plenty of passenger space, the dashboard is made from nice materials and the FlexSeat system increases passenger comfort. However, compared to rivals the dashboard looks dated and the backwards opening rear doors aren’t as practical as Vauxhall wants us to believe.
On the road the Meriva has impressive levels of grip thanks to its wide tyres, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun to drive – the body leans too much for enjoyment. With much of the suspension borrowed from the larger Zafira, the Meriva rides comfortably and with low levels of outside noise entering the cabin.
The engine line-up is where the Meriva falls behind rivals – only the 1.6-litre diesel engine is advanced enough to compete with what Nissan, Ford and Citroen offer. The petrols are only good in the city and never feel as fast as their figures suggest, while the 1.3-litre and 1.7-litre diesels are noisy and archaic.
Standard equipment on the Meriva is not exactly plentiful but you still get air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a CD/MP3 stereo, electric front windows and heated door mirrors. For a small outlay the Tech Line trim adds a lot of technology.
A replacement for the current Meriva has been spotted testing, take a look at this crossover-inspired model in our Meriva price, specs and release date article.
Cheapest to buy: 1.4-litre Life petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.3-litre Life diesel
Fastest model: 1.4-litre Turbo 140hp Exclusiv petrol
Most popular: 1.4-litre Tech Line petrol
The Meriva’s cabin shares a steering wheel and styling hints from the Insignia and an entertainment unit from the Astra. It’s well screwed together and will undoubtedly whitsand many years of family life abuse, but ultimately it has way too many buttons in a time when all can be controlled via a touchscreen infotainment system.
Vauxhall Meriva passenger space
The experts say visibility both forward and over the shoulder is very good. The ‘Flexspace’ rear seats convert a five seat bench into a spacious four seater but the critics say the middle seat is narrow and firm. The rear ‘suicide’ doors are quirky and give easy access to the rear seats unless the driver and rear passenger decide to exit the car simultaneously in a tight space in which case they get stuck in-between the doors.
Vauxhall Meriva boot space
The boot is a reasonable size and the rear seats fold easily to add luggage space. There is 397 litres of capacity which is more that what you get in the Ford B-Max and when you fold down the rear seats the space increases to 1,500 litres.
The experts say the Meriva has a firm yet comfortable ride. There’s lots of grip but there’s a reasonable amount of body roll when cornering. The testers were disappointed with the car’s steering; they say it’s heavy at low speeds and provides little feedback to the driver when moving faster. The Meriva can be fidgety on the motorway but not enough to upset its occupants.
When you look at an MPV like the Meriva, you expect it to be a bit ungainly in terms of how it handles corners and bends. Some other contenders in the Meriva’s class deliver surprisingly good handling, but the Vauxhall tends to drive just like you would expect it to.
Most people would automatically ignore the petrol options and go straight to the diesels, but modern small petrol options like the Meriva’s 1.4-litre units represent better value and lower running costs than diesels if you don’t do a great deal of mileage. The Meriva’s petrol engines aren’t the best of their kind, but they’re definitely worth considering.
Vauxhall Meriva petrol engines
Unless you are doing high mileages – say 15,000 miles per year – the 1.4-litre petrol engines are a good bet. This four-cylinder unit comes in three different power ratings: 99hp, 118hp and 138hp. All three engines are reasonably economical and offer acceptable levels of performance. They all return around 40mpg and cost between £130 and £145 to tax.
Vauxhall Meriva diesel engines
The 1.3-litre turbo diesel is frugal but lacks decent performance, while the 1.7-litre four cylinder turbo diesel is better and more powerful but is pricey to buy and run. They are both clattery, noisy and in the case of the 1.3-litre very, very slow – 0-62mph takes just under 17 seconds.
A much better choice is the new 1.6-litre diesel that is part of Vauxhall’s new line of Whisper engines. It’s indeed less noisy than the Isuzu-sourced 1.7-litre diesel, but still far off a BMW diesel in terms of vibrations and refinement. Inevitably, the 1.6-litre is also the most frugal one in the line-up with the 110hp version averaging a fuel consumption of 74.3mpg and is also free to tax.
The 1.3-ltre four cylinder turbo diesel is potentially the most fuel frugal in the Meriva range. It has 93bhp, 133lb ft torque and will easily average 53mpg with 63mpg possible. This engine produces just 119g/km CO2, meaning road tax is only £30 per year.
The critics note the 1.3-litre has fairly slow acceleration, isn’t refined and rattles from cold. Aside from these faults, this engine is a good choice for people wanting a frugal and convenient small MPV, as long as you do a decent number of miles per year to offset the high purchase price
Critics say the 1.4-litre turbo four cylinder petrol motor is smooth and quite at cruising speeds. It has 118bhp and will get from rest to 60mph in a reasonable 11.5 seconds. The experts say this engine will return 46.3mpg and just 143g/km CO2 – numbers not far short of the diesel engines in the Meriva range.
Critics noted that the engine is perfectly adequate at carrying the small car around but needed to be worked hard to get the most of the performance.
The 140 is the more potent of the two 1.4-litre turbo four cylinder petrol engines in the Meriva range. This engine produces 137bhp alongside 148lb ft torque and the experts say it’s flexible and responsive to drive. The manufacturer claims this engine will return 42.2mpg on a combined cycle but expect high 30’s in real world driving. Road tax is £155 per year.
The critics liked the combination of this fun engine with its six-speed gearbox but say some competitors are more powerful and frugal.
The 1.7-litre turbo four cylinder is the flagship diesel in the range. It has 128bhp and a healthy 221lb ft of torque – making it one of the most potent cars in its category. It will get from 0-62mph in a warmish 9.9seconds and will easily cruise at motorway speeds. Critics say this engine emits just 138g/km CO2 and will return 54.3mpg on average.
The experts note that this engine is capable but comes at a price.
The Meriva scores the full five-stars in the Euro NCAP safety testing regime, which is exactly what you want for this sort of family people carrier.
As standard across all the range, Merivas come with electronic stability control, break-away foot pedals, a collapsible steering column, front airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, five three-point seatbelts and Isofix child seat mountings in the rear seats.
S models come with side airbags as standard, while you also get full-size curtain airbags if you step up to Exclusiv and SE specification levels.
Prices for all models are on the expensive side. Base models come with limited equipment while the models further up the range come with more kit but at a price.
Vauxhall Meriva Tech Line
The Tech Line trim costs around £1000 more and for that you get heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel that can also be heated, all-round parking sensors, aviation-style trays on the backs of the front seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. However, what you don’t get is the rear power socket that is standard on every other trim level.
Vauxhall Meriva SE
The SE is the most expensive trim level and increases the Meriva’s price by quite a bit. For a £6000 premium you get a panoramic glass sunroof, cruise control, tinted windows and that’s about it. We’d stick to the cheaper Tech Line trim.
It used to be the case that Vauxhalls and Fords were cheap cars for the masses, but times are definitely changing in that respect. Most models from both manufacturers appear much more expensive than they used to, but Vauxhalls like the Meriva don’t offer quite the same quality as their Ford equivalents.
There are a few faults with the Meriva, but the general consensus is that’s it well worth considering if you’re after a family car. It’s ok, but it is never going to set the world on fire.
When it was originally launched it was one of the true leaders in its segment, but there’s some intense competition from South Korea these days that makes it look pretty ordinary.
It probably to fair to say, that it’s a pretty good all-rounder and if it was significantly cheaper, it really would be hard to beat. But if you are looking for a new car in this class, it would be well worth your while taking a good look around before plumping for the Vauxhall Meriva.