Vauxhall Meriva MPV
Vauxhall Meriva MPV
Price £13,999 - £22,505
- Innovative rear doors
- Interior versatility and practicality
- Quality materials
- Basic entry models
- Not comfortable for five adults
- Low-power engines
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 is designed to offer a practical and spacious interior in a car that's roughly the size of the Vauxhall Corsa. Its rear ‘suicide door’ hinges from the back to allow excellent access to the rear seats, while the firm's FlexSpace seating system makes it easy to move the rear seats into various positions or fold them away completely. Its main rivals include the Ford B-MAX, Nissan Note, and Hyundai ix20.
Vauxhall's small MPV may have been designed with practicality in mind but it feels surprisingly agile to drive and comes with a decent range of engines. The pick of those is the new 1.6-litre diesel, which is much quieter than the older 1.3-litre and 1.7-litre diesels.
The basic Meriva S comes with air-conditioning, LED daytime running lights, hill start assist, an AUX-in socket, alarm, and electronic stability control, but there five trim levels to choose from in total, the other four being Energy, Exclusive, TechLine and SE.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Fuel economy could be better but new diesel engines are quiet
Vauxhall has recently updated the Meriva range with a new 1.6-litre diesel and it's this engine that provides the strongest economy, with 74.3mpg possible and low emissions of 99g/km for free road tax. The 1.6-litre 134bhp diesel offers improved performance, but is still capable of 64.3mpg and emissions of 116g/km for road tax of £30. The 1.7-litre (56.5mpg) engine is the only diesel available with an automatic gearbox, while the rather gutless 1.3-litre diesel engine is capable of up to 60.1mpg and is also free to tax.
The 1.4-litre petrol engine is quite new to the range and is boosted by a turbocharger for added performance. It can return fuel economy of up to 47.9mpg, but compared to the diesel engines CO2 emissions are quite high at 139g/km for annual road tax costing £130.
Vauxhall offers fixed-price servicing for the Meriva, which starts from £129, and has also fixed the price for buying and fitting wear-and-tear items such brake pads (£99), cambelt (£209), and clutch (£529). The cheapest Meriva to insure is the 1.3-litre diesel, which sits in group five, while the 1.6-litre diesel model occupies group 16.
Interior & comfort
The Meriva suffers from wind and road noise on the motorway
Inside, the Meriva shares much in common with the rest of the Vauxhall line-up, so interior quality is good but not class-leading. The dashboard is nice enough to look at, but the infotainment system is fiddly to use.
Getting comfortable is easy though, and all models get a height adjustable driver's seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach. Meanwhile, the Meriva's slightly raised ride height gives the driver excellent visibility all round and the buyer can choose to fit a rear parking camera.
Out on the road the new 1.6-litre diesel engine is far quieter than either the 1.3-litre or 1.7-litre diesels, but all Merivas suffer from some road and wind noise. Vauxhall has tuned the suspension to cope admirably with the UK's often bumpy and broken-surfaced roads.
Practicality & boot space
Innovative doors are handy but there's not as much room as you'd expect
Open the boot and you’ll notice one of the big advantages of the Meriva – its load capacity. The 397-litre capacity is more than 100 litres bigger than the Corsa's and also beats its main rival the Ford B-MAX (318 litres). The rear seats fold flat into the floor to reveal a maximum capacity of 1,500 litres and the big boot opening makes it easy to load large items.
Vauxhall has given the Meriva rear ‘suicide doors’ (which hinge from the back of the door) and they give excellent access, particularly if you’re leaning in to fit a child seat. The rear seats can be setup in numerous combinations, so you can choose to have one, two, or three seats up, while the remainder are folded away. The back seats can also be slid forwards or backwards for more legroom or additional boot space.
You’ll not be short of storage space for odds and ends, and Vauxhall claims the Meriva has a maximum of 32 cubbyholes dotted around its interior.
Reliability & safety
Scores five stars for safety in Euro NCAP crash tests
In our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the Meriva was judged to have a better build quality and seat comfort than any other MPV polled – helping it climb 36 places compared to 2013. However, it could only manage 82nd out of 150 cars, coming 86th for reliability.
Standard safety features such as traction control and stability control helped the Meriva get a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, and it also comes with ISOFIX mounts for the safe fitment of child seats.
Engines, drive & performance
Suspension copes admirably with all but deepest potholes
Come across a country road when you’re Meriva isn’t full of the family and their possessions and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way the car drives. The steering is well weighted, there's lots of grip, and body lean is kept in check.
While there's obvious appeal in the 1.3-litre and 1.7-litre diesel engines’ economy, the pricier 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel is a much better engine. It offers plenty of low down performance to make it ideal for urban driving and it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox that is quick and precise.
The 0-62mph performance benchmark is completed in a spritely 9.9 seconds, while a top speed of 122mph means there is plenty of performance in reserve for motorway driving. Of the petrol variants we would go for the 1.4-litre 118bhp engine. It can’t match the punch of the diesel – 0-62mph takes 11.5 seconds – but it is quiet and comes with the same slick-shifting gearbox.
Price, value for money & options
Not enough standard equipment but big discounts are available
With air-conditioning, electric front windows, central locking and an alarm, even the entry-level Meriva S has all the basic equipment you need, while the Energy adds alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, and front foglights. The Exclusive model adds cruise control, a seatbealt warning buzzer, a 12v socket in the rear centre console, and curtain airbags. There's an incentive to go for the well-equipped TechLine model, with Vauxhall offering up to £1,500 off. It comes with heated front seats, heated steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, folding tables on the backs of the front seats, and front and rear parking sensors. Top of the line SE models get 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a trip computer, fancy ambient lighting, and storage under both front seats.
It becomes more obvious why Vauxhall is offering such competitive money off deals when you realise that the Meriva depreciates badly when compared to the Ford B-MAX. 1.4-litre 120 Meriva petrol in Exclusive spec can expect to lose 32 per cent of its value over three years/36,000 miles, while the 1.4-lite 100 TechLine should keep up to 41 per cent. The B-MAX shouldn’t lose more than 39 per cent of its starting price.
What the others say
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.
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.
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.
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.