Vauxhall Meriva MPV

Price  £12,995 - £22,505

Vauxhall Meriva MPV

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • 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

The greenest
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The cheapest
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The fastest
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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. Its rear door is hinged at the back, giving excellent access to the rear seats, while Ford's FlexSpace seating system makes it easy to move the rear seats into various positions or fold them away completely. 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 decent range of engines. We'd recommend the new 1.6-litre diesel in particular – it's much quieter than the older 1.3 and 1.7-litre diesels.

The basic Meriva S has air-conditioning, LED daytime running lights, hill-start assistance, an MP3 player socket, an anti-theft alarm and electronic stability control, but there five trim levels to choose from – the other four being Energy, Exclusiv, Tech Line and SE.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3 / 5

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 engine. It's the most efficient engine in the range, returning an average of 74.3mpg and emitting just 99g/km of CO2 for free road tax. The 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel is faster, yet it's still capable of 64.3mpg and has CO2 emissions of 116g/km for road tax of £30. The 1.7-litre returns 56.5mpg and is the only diesel available with an automatic gearbox, while the rather gutless 1.3-litre is capable of up to 60.1mpg and is also free to tax.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine is another relatively recent addition to the range. It can return fuel economy of up to 47.9mpg, but at 139g/km, its CO2 emissions are higher than the diesel's, so road tax costs £130 a year.

Vauxhall offers fixed-price servicing for the Meriva, starting from £129, and has also fixed the price for supplying and fitting common wear-and-tear items such as brake pads (£99), the cambelt (£209) and the 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 is in group 16.

Engines, drive & performance

3 / 5

Suspension copes well with all but deepest potholes

Drive down a winding country road when your 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 the strong fuel economy of the 1.3 and 1.7-litre diesel engines is appealing, the more expensive 134bhp 1.6-litre diesel is a much better engine. It offers plenty of performance from low speeds, so it's ideal for town driving, and the corresponding six-speed manual gearbox is quick and precise. It takes 9.9 seconds to go from 0-62mph, while a top speed of 122mph means there's plenty of performance in reserve for motorway driving.

The 1.4-litre 118bhp engine is the pick of the Vauxhall Meriva petrol engines. It can’t match the diesel's punch – 0-62mph takes 11.5 seconds – but it's quiet and has the same slick-shifting six-speed gearbox.

Interior & comfort

3.4 / 5

The Meriva suffers from excessive 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, as all models have 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 you can also fit an optional rear-view parking camera.

Out on the road, the new 1.6-litre diesel engine is much quieter than either the 1.3 or 1.7-litre, but all Merivas suffer from some road and wind noise. Vauxhall has tuned the suspension to cope admirably with the UK’s frequently bumpy and broken-up roads.

Practicality & boot space

3.6 / 5

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 the 318 litres of the Meriva's main rival, the Ford B-MAX. The rear seats fold flat into the floor to free up a maximum capacity of 1,500 litres and the large boot opening makes it easy to load big items.

Vauxhall has given the Meriva rear-hinged back doors, and they make it very easy to access the rear seats, particularly if you’re leaning in to fit a child seat. The rear seats can be arranged in numerous combinations – you can have one, two or three seats up while the remainder are folded away. The back seats can also be slid forwards or backwards to give more legroom or additional boot space as needed.

You won't be short of storage space for odds and ends, either – Vauxhall claims the Meriva has 32 different cubbyholes dotted around its interior.

Reliability & safety

3 / 5

Scored 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 looked at, helping it climb 36 places compared to 2013. However, it could only manage to finish 82nd out of 150 cars overall, and was placed 86th for reliability.

Standard safety features such as traction control and electronic stability control helped the Meriva get a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, and it also comes with ISOFIX child-seat mounts.

Price, value for money & options

3.5 / 5

Reasonable standard equipment, and 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'll need, while the Energy adds alloy wheels, a Bluetooth phone connection, cruise control and front foglights.

The Exclusiv model adds a seatbealt warning buzzer, a 12v socket in the rear centre console and curtain airbags. The well equipped Tech Line has heated front seats, heated steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, folding tables on the backs of the front seats, plus front and rear parking sensors. Top-of-the-line SE models have 17-inch alloy wheels, front foglights, a trip computer, fancy ambient lighting and storage under both front seats.

The bad news is that the Meriva depreciates badly when compared to the Ford B-MAX. A 1.4-litre 120 Exclusiv car is expected to lose 32% of its value after three years or 36,000 miles, while a 1.4-lite 100 Tech Line will lose 41%. The B-MAX shouldn’t lose more than 39% of its starting price, regardless of specification.

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.
Last updated 
20 Aug 2014

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