Vauxhall Meriva Review

Find out more about the Vauxhall Meriva in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • Well-designed rear doors
  • Quality interior finish
  • Flexible and practical cabin
  • Cons
  • Surprisingly expensive
  • Performance isn’t great
  • Ride can feel unsettled
  • MPG
    0 - 0
  • CO2
    0 - 0 g/km
Model Review

Brought into the Vauxhall range in 2003 and based on the Corsa, the Meriva was a compact MPV designed to be useful around town while being as practical as possible.

The first model was very bland and didn’t excite very much in both looks and how it drove. But what it did bring to the table was a clever interior layout with a good level of space considering the compact layout and nature of the Meriva.

Following the Meriva A receiving a facelift in 2006 that added chromed detailing to the exterior, the Meriva B was unveiled in 2010 with a more mature design.

With a more angular design for the second generation, the Meriva was much more attractive than before and with a mid-life update that design ethos was improved further. However, the model was discontinued in 2017 with the emergence of the Crossland X SUV, despite the Meriva still being on sale.

Latest Model

Released in 2010, the second generation Meriva B maintained the adaptable interior from the first version but packaged it in a much more modern and sleek exterior.

The engine line-up, however, wasn’t updated that much in the refresh and the units weren’t as good as they used to be when compared to the market rivals.

Accessory-wise the standard Meriva was available with folding and sliding rear seats, traction control, ABS, front electric windows, electric windows and Isofix points for child seats, while more premium models were available with satellite navigation, parking sensors, an electric sunroof and cruise control.

The main appeal of the Meriva though was always the adaptable rear compartment, as you could have one, two or three rear seats in use without removing any of them and this easily adaptable rear set of seats was always a strong point of the Meriva.

 

Value for money

From the base spec Life trim, the Meriva is fitted with a good amount of accessories considering the price, such as the FlexFloor and FlexSpace adaptable rear seating layout, air conditioning, electric front windows, ABS, Bluetooth with USB/Aux connectivity, electric parking brake, Isofix child seat fixing points, 16-inch alloy wheels and graphic information display.

Although its rivals — such as the Ford B-Max and Nissan Note — are slightly more expensive, they do have more features and although the finished product from Vauxhall is quite good, you could say that more could have been done to make it more attractive.

Due to the £14,270 starting price of a new base model and the poor residual value of Vauxhalls, you will be able to find cheap high-spec models from a couple of years ago at a lower sale price. One example is a 2014 SE that is fitted with a 1.4-litre petrol engine, an automatic gearbox and has only covered 8,800 miles.

Accessories include cruise control, front parking sensors, panoramic sun roof, adaptable central storage unit, brake assist, cornering brake control, electric rear windows and chrome effect detailing on the exterior. Priced at £10,495, this Meriva SE has a better finish, more features and is considerably cheaper than a new Life model, showing that despite owners suffering on residual costs, prospective used owners can do well on used Meriva models.

 

Looks and image

Unfortunately for the Meriva and fellow MPVs, the need for practicality outweighs the need for style and a very small amount of those actually look good. Despite an improved look for the second generation, the Meriva B doesn’t look quite as good as many would like and blends into the crowd rather than stand out.

Although the B is much sharper and cleaner than before, the Ford S-Max is considerably more attractive. The top spec SE is the pick of the range for looks thanks to the chrome-effect detailing around the front end and larger alloy wheels.

Although MPVs aren’t supposed to be exciting to drive, you can tell straightaway that the Meriva is tailored towards comfort by how it holds itself on the road and how it feels. The steering can feel surprisingly heavy at slower speeds and then lack feel the faster you go, but it turns in well and has a lot of grip.

Body roll is to be expected in a car the Meriva’s height but doesn’t do so excessively, even on twisty country roads. It can, however, feel unsettled on motorways and although it does find its feet eventually, it can feel very skittish.

Designed to be comfortable, the suspension has been honed to soak up the sometimes poor surfaces of the UK’s network and that helps the Meriva cruise rather well. Thanks to the extended wheelbase from the previous model, interior space for seating is better and four adults can sit very comfortably and with the help of the FlexSpace system, you can adapt the rear section to suit the amount of people and space needed.

Space and practicality

In terms of space, the Meriva does lag behind many of its market rivals like the Reanult Scenic and the Citroen C4 Picasso with boot space of only 397 litres. But with a large underfloor area in the rear and with the back seats able to fold fully flat, there is plenty of options to utilise in terms of moving objects.

The FlexRail storage system that sits in between the front seats was a new system for the Meriva B that allows you to choose up to three storage layers and help with that even more. The suicide doors are the main useful feature as they allow easier access to the rear seats and child seats can be fitted with much more ease than with a conventional door.

For the EuroNCAP safety tests, the Meriva performed really well with a five-star rating and achieved excellent ratings in the adult occupant, child occupant and safety assist categories. Admittedly, the safety assist systems were of a decent level at the time of testing in 2010, but now they are rather standard and not up to an excellent level.

The ESC, ABS and Protection Pack are now rather outdated when you compare it to modern MPVs and crossover SUVs as they come with much more safety features, but the Meriva will do a good job otherwise.

As this has been tailored to be practical and spacious, families will find the Meriva to be a great option for them. As previously mentioned the suicide doors are great for access and for getting child seats into the back seats, and with the many storage solutions and the spacious and adaptable interior, Meriva is a good option for families looking for a practical and easy to use vehicle.

 

Engines

For the Meriva, Vauxhall offers a choice of three petrol units and a singular diesel but considering the characteristics of the MPV, the 1.6-litre 134bhp diesel is arguably the best option. It has the best performance and is better suited to the Meriva thanks to the increased level of torque over the petrols. It can feel unrefined and grumbly at points, which may turn people towards the petrol engines, which are slower to 60mph but are much more refined in terms of noise and feel. The miles per gallon figures are respectable but the diesel does do better in terms of emissions and economy.

 

Running costs

For the models fitted with the diesel engine you will find good returns on fuel of around 64mpg and emissions in the region of 116g/km CO2, which no other engine in the range can match. The best petrol version in that respect is – surprisingly – the mid-level 118bhp unit, which returns a better mpg than the base 99bhp and marginally lower emissions. As is the norm, if you’re doing more long range driving the diesel is the better option.

For insurance the Meriva is at a pleasingly low level, with the highest level in group 17 and starting as low as group 6. With road tax costs, the diesel models fit into the £160 bracket for the first year, while the petrols fit into either the £200 or £500 bracket. Each year after that is £140 for all models.

Things to look out for

In its relatively short history, the Meriva has suffered a few problems with many of the recalls coming in the Meriva B. Issues such as airbags deploying inadvertently, seat belt malfunctions and engine faults are the only issues that have befallen the Meriva, but all three of those incidents have occurred multiple times during the B’s seven-year tenure, which is a worry. Many of these would have been simple to sort, but just make sure that it was by checking the history of any used Meriva.

 

Rivals

The Meriva does still have some rivals despite the MPV being overtaken by the crossover SUV as the family car of many people’s choice. But the main MPV rivals for the Meriva are the Ford B-Max, its bigger brother the S-Max and Nissan’s Note. Hyundai’s ix20, the Citroen C4 Picasso and the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer are also options in the same size bracket.

 

Depreciation warning

Now here is the point where people looking to sell there Meriva – or any Vauxhall for that matter – will not want to read on, and that is because of the model’s terrible resale value.That is due mainly to Vauxhall’s reputation as being a much cheaper and less desirable brand to own and that can bring used costs down to roughly 30 per cent of their starting price. That does, however, mean people looking for second-hand versions are likely to find a bargain and that is the other side of this very one-sided coin.

That is due mainly to Vauxhall’s reputation as being a much cheaper and less desirable brand to own and that can bring used costs down to roughly 30 per cent of their starting price. That does, however, mean people looking for second-hand versions are likely to find a bargain and that is the other side of this very one-sided coin.

Trims Explained

For the remainder of the Meriva’s sale life, it will come in four trim levels – Life, Club, Tech Line and SE – with the accessories getting progressively better, but not quite outstripping the comparative models in the same price range.

Life

In the Life guise, the Meriva comes with Bluetooth, AUX and USB connection ports, electric front windows, FlexSpace rear seats and FlexFloor systems, air conditioning, ESP and ABS. You also get Isofix fixing points for child seats, a multi-functional steering wheel, electrically adjustable wing mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels.

This version of the Meriva starts out at £14,270, which is cheaper than many of its rivals but does lack the quality of them.

Club

system, cruise control, chrome effect exhaust extensions and 16-inch steel wheels as well as some extra storage features and seatbelt unfastened warning for the rear seats.

The step in cost, however, is huge up to £19,140.

Tech Line

Surprisingly the next trim – Tech Line – is better equipped than Club but is considerably cheaper and is the better option to go for. Coming with heated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, electric rear windows, mobile phone system, front fog lights and underseat storage.

At £15,275 the Tech Line is the bargain of the line-up and this is probably the Meriva to go for.

SE

In SE spec, there is again a large jump in price between the levels but it isn’t clear why and it actually appears that apart from a couple of features, the Tech Line is actually better equipped. Features fitted to the SE include a panoramic glass roof, dark tinted glass, chrome effect detailing and Vauxhall OnStar service assistant. With some of the features not quite up to the same level as the Tech Line, it is unclear why you would choose this model.

The £20,235 starting price is quite ridiculous when compared to competitors at the same price considering the features fitted.

Summary

  1. Affordable option
  2. Comfortable ride
  3. MPV market is shrinking quickly
  4. Couple of trim lines don’t make sense
  5. Poor depreciation effects
  6. Is out of production
  7. Has better competitors
  8. Diesel unit is best performing
  9. Reasonable running costs
  10. Practical for its size, despite small boot