Review

Vauxhall Meriva MPV

Price  £12,995 - £22,505

Vauxhall Meriva MPV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Innovative rear doors
  • Versatility and practical interior
  • High-quality materials used throughout
Cons
  • Poor performance
  • Entry-level model is basic
  • Not comfortable for five adults

At a glance

The greenest
SE 1.6CDTi 16v (110PS) S/S 5dr £21,340
The cheapest
Life 1.4i 16v VVT (100PS) (a/c) 5dr £12,995
The fastest
SE 1.6CDTi 16v (136PS) S/S 5dr £21,500
Top of the range
SE 1.7CDTi 16v (110PS) auto (a/c) 5dr £22,505

"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.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3 / 5

Fuel economy could be better, but the Vauxhall Meriva has quiet new diesel engines

Engines, drive & performance

3 / 5

The Vauxhall Meriva’s suspension copes well with all but the deepest potholes

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

The Vauxhall Meriva suffers from excessive wind and road noise on the motorway

Practicality & boot space

3.6 / 5

Innovative doors are handy, but there's not as much room as you'd expect inside the Vauxhall Meriva

Reliability & safety

3 / 5

The Vauxhall Meriva scored five stars for safety in Euro NCAP crash tests

What the others say

3.4 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
There is lots to admire about the Vauxhall Meriva - its engine range is strong and includes an excellent 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit that's smooth, powerful and economical. The Insignia inspired interior is one of the best in class, while the car rides and drives almost as well as the Ford Focus. But its the unique door arrangement and versatile seating that are standout. The doors are hinged on opposite edges, meaning they open at almost 90 degrees, and allow you uninterrupted access to the front and rear seats at the same time.
2 / 5
Not a class-leader, by any means. But if you get a big enough discount – and only need to carry four people – the Vauxhall Meriva has some clever tricks up its sleeve.
3.5 / 5
On the move the Meriva is easy to drive, helped by light steering and excellent visibility, so it's ideal in towns and cities. The interior is impressive too, with an easy-to-use layout and good quality materials borrowed from the Astra and Insignia. 
4 / 5
If you're looking for a small MPV, the Meriva is a worth considering. The quirky Flexdoors are a user-friendly feature and it has a spacious interior with good rear passenger room. Rather oddly for a family car it feels like a driver's MPV, with a handling balance baised towards the sporting side. If you're after the last word in comfort, you may well want to look elsewhere.

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What owners say

4.0548611111111
4.1 /5 based on 144 reviews
49%
 people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated
3 Dec 2014
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