2.2.2011 Vauxhall Meriva 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX
Vauxhall has evolved its new, bigger Meriva to make it a strong rival for cars like the Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic and Citroen C4 Picasso. Rear hinged back doors make access easier, and folding down the rear seats for additional room is simpler than ever.
The boot space can be divided thanks to a 'false' floor, creating a big, flat cargo area when the seats are folded. Quality is good but prices are high and engine noise and ride comfort disappoint at times. Exclusive models and above have an aluminium centre console with sliding compartments, trays and cup holders.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Vauxhall's new 94bhp diesel engine would be nicer if it was quieter, but it gets the job done with reasonable performance (0-60mph in 13.8 seconds) and good fuel consumption (62.8mpg on the official combined cycle). Vauxhall expects models with this engine to be the best sellers. Maximum torque of 133 lbs ft arrives from 1750rpm and maximum power at 4,000rpm. Top speed is 104mph but for my lifestyle and personality I would need the heftier 221lbs ft torque of the bigger 1686cc engine.
The new Meriva is a bigger and more sophisticated car than its predecessor. The wider front and rear track improves stability and ride comfort is helped by the car's longer wheelbase. That said, there can be a lot of body roll if you tackle corners enthusiastically because the suspension is comfort biased, though less than some Citroen C3 rivals. I found the steering rather too light for my taste but it is precise and pretty quick. Motorway cruising is stress free.
A huge improvement over the old Meriva with some sporty curves hinting at power, jagged side window lines and, of course, those 1940's so called side 'suicide doors' though Vauxhall prefers the term FlexDoors. These swing open at an angle of nearly 90 degrees for easy access – allowing parents to lift children into child seats without twisting round a door. With the demise of the Mazda RX-8, only the Rolls-Royce Phantom now has hinged rear doors. Length 4288mm. Width 1812mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The Meriva's height makes it easy to get in and out of and we found the seats, especially those in the front comfy with plenty of adjustment. The cabin looks and feels classy and well made and ahead of French and Japanese rivals.
Instruments are clear, and chrome rimmed, the steering column adjusts for rake and reach and the six-speed manual gearbox has a positive action.
Folding down and moving the rear seats to create more boot, leg or shoulder room is easy. The boot space can be split a 'false' floor. The flat cargo area is large.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The Meriva achieves 50.4 mpg on the urban cycle, 72.4 mpg on the extra-urban test and 62.8 mpg on the combined cycle. The fuel figure equates to a fuel cost of 9.6p per mile. A low CO2 figure of 119g/km puts the Meriva ecoFLEX into road tax band C with annual road tax of £30 per year. Warranty: Lifetime of car up to 100,000 miles. Cars also come with six year anti corrosion warranty.
The diesel engine has exceptional swirl and burn and a maintenance-free exhaust particulate filter. At up to 1,800 bar, the fuel system delivers fine atomization and up to eight injection pulses per cycle for low fuel consumption and exhaust-emissions. A bypass valve in the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system makes sure gases are hot enough for re-combustion, increasing power and cutting emissions. Combustion quality is continuously checked and the engine management system makes minute adjustments to optimise throughout the engine's life. All this kit gives CO2 emissions of 119g/km - not bad at all for a car of this size.
Expression models have FlexDoors, FlexSpace rear seats and Flex boot plus electronic stability system, anti-lock brakes, driver's seat height adjustment, rake and reach adjustable steering column, electric front window and door mirrors, electric parking brake (hate them – more driver control gone!), twin front airbags, ISOFIX child seat restraint for outer rear seats, CD player with MP3 format/stereo radio and remote control central deadlocking. S models gains uprated stereo, front seat side-impact airbags and graphic information display.
Model tested: Vauxhall Meriva S 1.3CDTi ecoFLEX 5dr
Body-style: Compact people carrier
Engine/CO2: 94 hp, 4-cyl turbo diesel / 119 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Expression, S, Exclusiv, SE
On-road price: From £12,995. Price as tested £17,970
Warranty: 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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