An innovative take on the small MPV with rear-hinged rear doors for easy access. The Vauxhall Meriva is packed with family-friendly features, and comes with a warranty that ‘could last a lifetime’.
The steering is vague, the gearchange is poor and the cabin becomes noisy at speed. The Meriva isn’t cheap, either, and although it will seat five, the fifth passenger draws a decidedly short straw.
On the road
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The trend for turbocharged small-capacity petrol engines continues in the Meriva with a new 118bhp 1.4. It does the job, and is probably your best bet unless your mileage is high. The 1.3-litre diesel struggles to make decent progress – especially with a whole family on board. The 1.6-litre version is better, but it’s too pricey to buy for us to recommend it.
Ride & Handling
The Meriva has a firm yet comfortable ride, but the steering disappoints: it’s heavy at low speeds and fails to provide much feedback when you pick up the pace. Although there’s a reasonable amount of body roll, there’s plenty of grip. On the motorway, the ride is a little fidgety, but it won’t make anyone sick.
Most of the Meriva’s engines are hushed and smooth, yet it’s by no means the quietest car on the motorway. Thanks to the combination of road noise – even on smoother surfaces – and wind noise, the Meriva is far noisier than other family-car favourites. The diesel engines make themselves heard at tickover, but are quickly drowned out by the road noise when you move off.