Vauxhall Meriva review
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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.
The Meriva’s suicide doors make it super practical
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.
Overall, 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.
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 Meriva isn’t as fun to drive as some of its rivals
Most people would automatically ignore the petrol options and go straight to the diesels, but modern small petrols such as 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.
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.
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 fuel consumption of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 116g/km.
The steering is a bit of a letdown – it’s heavy at low speeds and gives little to no information on what the front wheels are doing which robs you of some confidence on twisty or slippery roads. 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.
Although it’s not the last word in style, the Meriva’s interior is built to put up with the rigours of family life – everything functions reasonably well, though there are no luxury touches.