Vauxhall Meriva MPV

Price  £13,410 - £22,395

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
SE 1.6CDTi 136PS S/S ecoFLEX 5dr £22,395
The cheapest
Life 1.4i 100PS 5dr £13,410
The fastest
SE 1.6CDTi 136PS S/S ecoFLEX 5dr £22,395
Top of the range
SE 1.6CDTi 136PS S/S ecoFLEX 5dr £22,395

“The Vauxhall Meriva is a compact MPV with innovative door design to boost practicality. It’s roomy and high-quality, too.”

The Vauxhall Meriva is a compact people-carrier that shares mechanical components with the Vauxhall Corsa hatchback, tilting against rivals like the Ford B-MAX and Nissan Note. In common with the B-MAX, the Meriva's side doors are hinged at the rear, like those of a Rolls-Royce. The benefit of this is easier access to the back of the car, as well as making it easier to maneuver child seats in and out.

Practicality has been given a high priority inside the Meriva, with Vauxhall's FlexSpace rear seats able to individually fold or slide to enable more boot space or extra legroom to meet the varying demands of daily use.

The dashboard is well built, feeling solid to touch and giving the impression of being easily able to cope with family life. Even the entry-level Life model has plenty of standard equipment, with Club, Tech Line and SE models offering additional functional and styling features if you need them.

The Life has air-conditioning to help prevent occupants becoming hot and bothered, cruise control to make long motorway journeys more relaxing, and alloy wheels to add a touch of style outside. Club omits the alloy wheels, but offers greater interior versatility, as well as a Protection Pack including additional airbags and a system to alert you if the rear seatbelts aren’t in use – reassuring features for parents.

The sporty-looking Tech Line has bigger, 17-inch alloy wheels as well as front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The most luxurious SE trim also includes Vauxhall's OnStar concierge service and is fitted with a panoramic sunroof. It also benefits from storage compartments throughout the interior.

Three petrol engines can be chosen, all 1.4 litres in capacity and offering 99, 118 and 138bhp respectively. Our favourite is the mid-range 118bhp engine. It's quiet, smooth and has plenty of power for safe overtaking, while being economical for a petrol at 47.9mpg – although CO2 emissions of 139 grams per kilometer put it in the £120-a-year road-tax bracket. It also offers the choice of an automatic gearbox at extra cost, making it the only Meriva engine with this option. The least expensive Life model is only available with the 99bhp petrol engine, though.

Vauxhall has recently simplified the Meriva diesel line-up. There's now only one 1.6-litre CDTi engine with 134bhp, available on all models from Club upwards. It promises 64.2mpg fuel economy, while its 116g/km CO2 rating means you’ll be paying £20 a year in road tax, making this a sensible choice if you cover over 12,000 miles a year. Lower-mileage drivers may be swayed towards the petrol cars thanks to their lower purchase costs.

Whichever Meriva you choose is bound to make an agreeable family workhorse. Our only reservation is the car's performance in our annual Driver Power customer satisfaction survey: in 2016 it finished a lowly 145th out of 150 cars tested, with owners citing reliability as a common concern.

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.
What owners say 
4.1 /5 based on 77 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
25 Jul 2016
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