Vauxhall Meriva MPV
Price £12,995 - £21,980
- Innovative rear doors
- Versatility and practical interior
- High-quality materials used throughout
- Poor performance
- Entry-level model is basic
- Not comfortable for five adults
At a glance
"With its innovative door design, the Vauxhall Meriva provides practical and versatile mobility for growing families."
The Vauxhall Meriva is a small MPV that packs a practical and spacious interior into a car no bigger than the Vauxhall Corsa supermini. This practicality has been made possible by a clever door arrangement: the rear doors are hinged at the rear, meaning they open backwards much like an old black cab. That means excellent access to the rear seats, making it easy to install a child seat or for less mobile passengers to climb in.
An equally clever seating arrangement, called FlexSpace, allows the rear seats to slide and fold independently, increasing space for passengers or luggage as required. Vauxhall claims the Meriva has no fewer than 32 storage spaces. The Meriva's main rivals include the Ford B-MAX, Nissan Note and Hyundai ix20.
Vauxhall's small MPV was designed mainly with practicality in mind, but it feels surprisingly agile to drive and has a wide range of engines. Diesel fans are catered for by 1.3, 1.6 and 1.7-litre diesels, but only one of these emits less than 100g/km of CO2, making it eligible for free road tax. And it's this 1.6-litre engine that we’d recommend for diesel buyers, as it's the newest, most efficient and smoothest in the range.
Just one petrol engine (a 1.4-litre) is offered. It's available in three different power outputs – 99, 118 and 138bhp – and with the option of an automatic gearbox. The 118bhp version is our favourite engine overall, though, because it's quiet, smooth, and has plenty of power in reserve for overtaking.
Vauxhall frequently provides a bewildering range of trims to choose from, but thankfully there are only six in the Meriva range: S, Life, Exclusiv, Energy, Tech Line and SE. All models come with air-con, electric windows and mirrors and USB and MP3 player connectivity.
But you’ll need to fork out extra for the Exclusiv model if you want to benefit from a full suite of safety equipment such as curtain airbags, whiplash-reducing headrests and rear seatbelt warning lights – an essential if you’re carrying kids in the back.
Our recommendation is the top-of-the-range SE model though. It costs around £1,000 more than the Exclusiv, but provides a glass roof, aircraft-style tables in the rear and alloy wheels.
Fuel economy could be better, but the Vauxhall Meriva has quiet new diesel engines
The Vauxhall Meriva’s suspension copes well with all but the deepest potholes
The Vauxhall Meriva suffers from excessive wind and road noise on the motorway
Innovative doors are handy, but there's not as much room as you'd expect inside the Vauxhall Meriva
The Vauxhall Meriva scored five stars for safety in Euro NCAP crash tests