- Unique-in-class FlexDoors offer unrivalled occupant access and convenience
- FlexRail and FlexSpace features bring new levels of cabin versatility to class
- Expressive and dynamic design elements influenced by Insignia and Astra
- Five engines from launch, with two more diesel units to follow
- UK-tuned handling characteristics
- On sale now; in UK showrooms June 18
Vauxhall’s new Meriva is set to turn the conventional concept of family-car usability on its head with a combination of clever, rear-hinged back doors which radically improve access/egress, and a raft of unique cabin features that boost interior versatility.
The new Meriva, which received its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show this year, is the first Vauxhall to feature FlexDoors, showcased in 2008’s Meriva design concept.
FlexDoors are rear-hinged back doors which swing open towards the back of the car at an angle of nearly 90 degrees, vastly improving the ease with which occupants enter and leave the cabin. Rather than having to step back, or to one side, as one would using a normal front-hinged door, the FlexDoor allows unimpeded forward access/egress to and from the cabin, enhanced further by the Meriva’s high roof line.
For parents with children, there are further benefits. Due to the larger door opening and free space around the B-pillar, parents can lift small children forwards in to rear-mounted, second-stage child seats without having to contort themselves around a door. And with both the front and rear doors open (the fronts open at a similar angle to the rear FlexDoors) a ‘parent-friendly’ zone is created with no door barrier between front and rear occupants.
Crucially, the FlexDoors cannot be opened by occupants while the Meriva is travelling at more than 2mph, after which the doors automatically lock. The sophisticated system also warns drivers if a door is not completely closed.
While the concept of two rear-hinged back doors is not new in the motor industry, the Meriva’s FlexDoor system is the first time it has been used on a family car in recent years. But unlike other rear-hinged door applications the Meriva benefits from front and rear doors that open independently, and does not require rear passengers to sit behind the door opening.
Class-leading in-cabin flexibility
Once inside the new Meriva, buyers benefit from two further groundbreaking innovations. The FlexRail adopts a completely fresh approach to the design of a car’s centre console, and provides owners with a variety of modular storage and comfort solutions that fix on to an ingenious dual-rail base, with further space liberated by use of an electronic parkbrake, standard on all models. It provides convenient and adaptable storage for a wide variety of everyday items, from handbags and magazines, to MP3 players, CDs and colouring books.
The new Meriva’s storage bin and cubby count has also increased, with features like a 1.5-litre bottle holder in each of the front doors, meaning that owners now benefit from one of the most practical cabins in class.
In addition, the current Meriva’s much-praised FlexSpace system has evolved with even greater practicality. Now more intuitive to use, the new Meriva’s FlexSpace allows easier fold-down of the rear seats, while moving the rear seats to create more boot, leg or shoulder room is simpler than ever.
The new Meriva’s seat comfort has also advanced, with the adoption of front seat technology from the Insignia and Astra. Like these cars, the Meriva offers the biggest range of seat adjustment in class, extending to 240mm in length and 65mm in height.
Enhanced visibility and safety
The new Meriva optimises the high-riding benefits of a monocab by offering even better visibility front and rear. The lowered front fascia, narrower A-pillars and larger front quarter-lights all contribute to an exceptionally clear view for front seat occupants, while rear passengers benefit from a unique ‘wave’ design in the belt line that increases the depth of the rear windows – a great boon for young children.
New for the Meriva is a full-length panoramic sunroof, which is standard on SE models. At almost two metres long, the roof comes with an electronic blind and is one of the largest of its kind offered in the compact MPV segment.
After its success in both the Insignia and Astra ranges, a version of Vauxhall’s Adaptive Forward Lighting System, which includes Dynamic Curve and Static Cornering features, will be offered as an option in the Meriva range.
New Meriva adopts design language from Insignia and new Astra
The current Meriva effectively created the small MPV sector when it was launched in 2003, but since then Vauxhall’s design language has evolved steadily, with big strides being made with the European Car of the Year-winning Insignia and more recently with the launch of the all-new Astra.
No surprise, then, that the new Meriva has adopted a more expressive and dynamic silhouette to its basic cab-forward MPV design. Like the Insignia and Astra, a ‘blade’ features down the side of the body, complementing a window line with a distinct ‘wave’ accentuating the FlexDoors, allowing panoramic views for rear passengers.
The design theme continues in the Meriva’s cabin, with cues taken from the Insignia and Astra enhancing the perceived quality of the materials.
More efficient powertrains
The new Vauxhall Meriva will be offered with engines ranging from 75-140PS, all of which comply with Euro5 emissions standards.
The petrol engine line-up comprises three versions of the 16-valve 1.4-litre unit. The range starts with the Meriva’s only normally aspirated engine, featuring hollow camshafts for reduced weight and a power output of 100PS. Completing the petrol line-up, are two turbocharged 1.4 variants, producing either 120PS or 140PS (the latter taken from the new Astra range). All engines get five-speed manual gearboxes, except the 1.4 Turbo 140PS, which has a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The diesel line-up starts with a 75PS, 1.3 CDTi unit which uses closed-loop catalyst technology to enhance fuel consumption. In addition, a 1.7CDTi unit producing 100PS will be available, equipped with a 6-speed fully automatic gearbox.
Later this year, the engine line-up will gain two additional diesel variants. The low C02-emitting ecoFLEX model will be powered by a 95PS 1.3 CDTi unit, and a second version of the 1.7 CDTi will also join the range, fitted with a six-speed gearbox and producing 130PS.
New Meriva builds on success of first generation model
The current Meriva was launched in 2003 and effectively created the small MPV sector in the UK and Europe. With its unique FlexSpace rear seating system, which allowed passengers to adjust their seats for more leg or shoulder room – as well as for more boot space – it has proved immensely popular with UK buyers, with over 112,000 being sold in the last six years.
The new car is set to build on this success. With a longer wheelbase offering added practicality for buyers – especially those with young children – the Meriva has shifted out of the small MPV and into the five-seat compact MPV class, where it will compete with rivals, such as the Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic and Citroen C4 Picasso.