New Vauxhall Meriva review

The all-new Vauxhall Meriva compact MPV has caught the eye with its unusual rear-hinged doors, but there’s more than meets the eye about the new Vauxhall model.

Instantly, the doors are the most noticeable aspect of the Meriva. Previously named suicide doors and rebranded as Flexdoors, Vauxhall says they improve access to rear seats, particularly for children or elderly relatives, or even for fitting baby seats.

The idea is to create a ‘safe’ space for loading when both side doors are open, and when the car is travelling at more than two miles an hour, they automatically lock tight and a warning system to notify the driver when the doors are not closed is a nice touch.

It’s an innovative and genuinely useful feature, rarely seen on cars and never before seen on an MPV. For this, Vauxhall must be applauded for standing out in a segment too often dominated by dreary boxes.

The flexible theme continues inside, with a flex-seat system that allows owners to move or fold the three rear seats independently, or even fold down the centre seat to improve elbow room on the remaining two seats.

The Vauxhall Zafira is famed for its extensive amount of seating configurations, and the Meriva follows suit with an easy to use and practical approach to loading the entire family on board.

Longer than the previous Meriva, the new model has a boot space of 400-litres with the rear seats in use and a generous1,500-litres with all seats folded.

Completing the flex theme, a clever flexrail system allows items to be passed back and forth on a rail between the front and rear passengers, a feature ideal for longer journeys with the kids.

Inside, there is a noticeable improvement in the quality of the plastics and upholstery in the Meriva. Hard wearing but comfortable, the interior is in keeping with other recent Vauxhall models.

These include the new Astra and Insignia and the similarities don’t end there, because Vauxhall has developed a the Meriva not just for comfort.

The Meriva uses the same chassis as the Astra, making for an engaging drive, even though the new model is noticeably larger than the previous Meriva.

It is a tall car, but it felt stable when driven and there was relatively little noise in the cabin. As expected, because of the height there was some corner roll, but not enough to throw the Meriva off its stride.

There’s a wide spread of engines, including the excellent turbo 1.4 petrol and selection of turbodiesels.

The 1.4-litre petrol we drove offered CO2 emissions of 148g/km – not a bad figure for a car as large as this. This puts it in VED band F, meaning road tax of £125 per year.

Fuel consumption is nearly 50mpg on the official figures, again an impressive number for a car of this size.

The Meriva raised a few eyebrows with its Flexdoor system when it was first introduced, but get behind the wheel and it soon becomes clear there is a lot more to this people carrier than first meets the eye.

With its Flex systems, wide range of engines and ability on the roads, the Vauxhall Meriva is a winning and flexible car in more ways than one.