The Meriva’s FlexDoor system, consisting of rear doors that open outwards towards the back of the car, can drastically reduce the risk of backstrain according to research carried out by scientists at Coventry University.
It found the doors made entering and leaving the car easier and reduced the risk of twisting motions when putting bags and child seats into the back of the car.
The research showed there was a 48 per cent less chance of back twists and 58 per cent lower strain on back muscles in the Meriva than in cars with conventional, forward-opening doors.
The team at Coventry University claims the doors could help cut down on the number of back injuries in elderly people or parents with small children.
Research shows 80 per cent of people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives and one in six sick days are due to the problem.
Dr James Shippen of Coventry University, who headed the research, said: "With this research we wanted to prove that the New Meriva could actually help the physical wellbeing of drivers everywhere. The results speak for themselves – you’ll be putting significantly less strain on your back with this car."
The Vauxhall Meriva, available from £15,495, is one of very few models using rear-opening doors. Despite the ominous ‘suicide door’ nickname, the doors lock when the car is in motion, providing extra safety for parents.
For passengers, the doors also feature a new ‘blade design’ to increase the size of the window in the rear and improve visibility from the passenger seats.
The doors were designed to provide a ‘safe load area’ when all four side doors are open to make it easy to climb in and out of the MPV.
The Vauxhall Meriva is available in three specification levels and three engine options. Standard equipment includes CD 400 CD player with MP3 format and aux-in/USB, graphic information display, heated door mirrors, electric windows and electronic park brake.
A panoramic roof, dark tinted windows and electronic sunshade are available with higher specification models.