Review: Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017)
Practical and easy to get in and out of. Facelifted 2014 models get impressive new 1.6-litre CDTi engine.
Spacesaver spare a £105 option. Pricey top models. Old 1.7-litre CDTi best avoided. Suspension is set-up for sportiness rather than comfort.
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Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017): At A Glance
The second-generation Vauxhall Meriva was a huge step-forward from its predecessor and established itself as an innovative and very capable small people carrier. Despite facing tougher opposition from with the C-MAX and the likes of the Citroen C3 Picasso, the Meriva still has plenty to recommend it.
The big talking point is its unique Flexdoor arrangement. Vauxhall has gone for rear-hinged rear doors, which if nothing else offer a significant talking point. We used to call them ‘suicide doors’, but since then, they've been fitted to several cars, such as the Rolls Royce Phantom.
The doors have various locking systems which make them safe and it's fair to say that they are more than just a gimmick. Both they and the front doors open extra wide (with four separate click-stops) and facilitate very easy entry and exit.
For 2014, the Meriva received a subtle facelift. The styling, which needed little in the way of updating, remains as it was with staggered side windows which give rear seat passengers more glass area. Ideal for children in the back who are prone to car sickness. The clever seating and luggage arrangements remain as they were.
The big news is the arrival of a new 1.6-litre CDTi unit that Vauxhall calls the 'Whisper Diesel', which will eventually replace the old 1.3-litre and pensionable 1.7-litre diesels. Also, the appealing 1.4-litre turbo engine has been tweaked for lower emissions and improved fuel consumption.
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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Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017): What's It Like Inside?
The Flexdoors mark the Meriva out from the competition and the make for incredibly easy access to the back, handy for when you're fitting child seats. There are three separate rear seats that split, slide and fold independently of one another. Folding the narrow centre rear seat flat means you can slide the rear seats back diagonally, as in a Ford C-MAX, to provide more legroom.
You can also fold all the seats flat for carrying luggage while another interesting option is the integrated bicycle rack which is another feature unique to Vauxhall.
In the front you’ll find a similar dashboard and instruments as the Insignia or Astra. The quality is reasonable and although the layout isn't the best with too many buttons on the centre stack, it's functional nonetheless. For 2014 the Meriva gets an updated infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB compatibility for smartphones and MP3 players. However, as before, the display doesn't dim independently of the headlights, so if you drive during the day with your lights on, you'll not be able to see what's on the display.
There’s a curious arrangement of parallel sliding cupholders, nick-nack trays and armrests between the front seats. The fact that the centre console storage area can be slid backwards and forwards on a pair of rails is clever and is helped by an electric parking brake which frees up space.
You'll also find lots of stowage spaces around the cabin and power points. Some of the storage options are also impressive like a neat pair of grooves into which the load cover can be slid when carrying tall items (or a dog) in the back.
Boot space is 400 litres with the seats up increasing to 920 litres to waist height with all rear seats folded, and 1500 litres to the roof with all rear seats down. There’s more space than in a Ford B-MAX, but no more than you'll find in a Citroen C3 Picasso however at least the boot is roomy and a useful square shape
There’s also a well for a spare wheel under the load floor, but you have to pay an extra £105 for a space saver, otherwise all you get is an inflation kit, which, as we all know, won’t inflate a shredded tyre. We think it's worth the investment.
Up front, you'll enjoy a raised driving position that's comfortable, with the relationship between pedals and steering wheel pretty much spot on. Visibility is also excellent, bordering on panoramic when looking forwar and the interior is airy, even if you go for a dark interior trim.
Sadly, although the material quality is good, some of the surfaces, such as the dashboard itself, look cheap and tacky. The seats themselves are rather firm and not particularly comfortable on longer runs.
Child seats that fit a Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017) like to drive?
The big news for the 2014 facelift is the arrival of the 1.6-litre CDTi diesel, which Vauxhall is justifiably proud of. It's the only diesel option but fortunately it's a superb engine and easily as good as Honda's brilliant 1.6 i-CTDi. It's so far ahead of the old 1.3-litre and 1.7-litre diesels that it doesn't even bear comparison.
It's more efficient than the old 1.7 CDTi yet is more refined, punchier and has a much smoother power delivery. What that means is you don't need to work it as hard to make decent progress, you can change up earlier if you're cruising and at any speed it's much more restful.
The standard six-speed gearbox is well-geared, with a long-striding top gear that sees you cruising at around 2000rpm at the motorway speed limit. Yet if your speed drops, rarely will you need to change down to fifth to get motoring again.
The all-new diesel is joined by an improved version of the original 1.4-litre Turbo. It's been tuned to make it compliant with the upcoming Euro VI emissions regulations and is available in two versions - 120PS and 140PS. Official fuel consumption is 44.8mpg, which is more than competitive for a small turbo hauling a relatively large body.
Even in base 120PS form, it feels relative quick and enjoyable. Engine refinement is adequate, while the power delivery is smooth, with few tell-tales (such as inconsistent throttle response) that there's a turbo under the bonnet. If you're in the market for a petrol hold-all, the turbo Meriva is a more than capable option.
The 2014 Meriva retains the firm, slightly jiggly ride of the original car. It never jars or gets uncomfortable, but you won't have your passengers complimenting the car on its ride comfort. The reason for this is that the ride and handling balance has been tuned in favour of the latter, so you get keen cornering and relatively low levels of body roll in bends. The steering is weighty and reasonably quick, which suggests it's been designed for driving at speed as opposed to a city environment.
The generously-sized wheels and low-profile tyres are probably responsible for the firm ride. Performance varies from 0-62mph in 10.1 seconds for the 1.4-litre 140PS Turbo down to 16.9 seconds for the soon-to-be discontinued 75PS 1.3 CDTi.
The Meriva is a big surprise for those who may think that small family hold-alls like this are boring to drive. The 225/45 R17 tyres deliver huge amounts of grip, while the ‘tuned flow rate’ electro hydraulic steering gives an impression of very natural feel. This is a completely different steering system from the all electric set up in the old Meriva that was prone to burning out its motor when forced onto maximum lock too often.
Although the engine refinement is now exemplary in 1.6 CDTi, the rest of the car would rate only as okay in this department. There's noticeable wind noise at speed and tyre noise is also more intrusive than it might be. But we're talking in degrees and overall, it's hard to mark down the Meriva's noise levels in day-to-day driving.
|1.3 CDTi||60 mpg||16.9–17.2 s||124 g/km|
|1.3 CDTi ecoFlex||69 mpg||13.8 s||109 g/km|
|1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX||63 mpg||13.8 s||119 g/km|
|1.4||47 mpg||14.0 s||140 g/km|
|1.4 100||47 mpg||14.0 s||140 g/km|
|1.4 Turbo 120||40–48 mpg||11.3–14.0 s||139–169 g/km|
|1.4 Turbo 120 Automatic||40 mpg||11.9 s||166–169 g/km|
|1.4 Turbo 140||45 mpg||10.1–14.0 s||149 g/km|
|1.6 CDTi 110||74 mpg||-||115 g/km|
|1.6 CDTi 110 ecoFLEX||74 mpg||-||115 g/km|
|1.6 CDTi 136||64 mpg||9.9 s||116 g/km|
|1.6 CDTi 136 ecoFLEX||64 mpg||9.9–12.8 s||116–119 g/km|
|1.6 CDTi 95 ecoFLEX||71 mpg||-||105 g/km|
|1.7 CDTi 110||46 mpg||12.8 s||160 g/km|
|1.7 CDTi 130||53 mpg||9.9 s||139 g/km|
|1.7 CDTi Automatic||46 mpg||12.9 s||160 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Vauxhall Meriva (2010 – 2017)?
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Is there any reason to buy a Mercedes B-Class to replace my Vauxhall Meriva apart from badge prestige?
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