What's the used Vauxhall Meriva MPV like?
The first Vauxhall Meriva was a small and entirely unremarkable small MPV that sold surprisingly well. Careful not to muddy the waters, the firm’s second-generation Meriva was this similarly sized car that has possibly gone down in the annals of history for one reason: it has rearward-opening rear doors.
But that would be to dismiss it out of hand. In a class chock-full of desirable competitors, including the more fashionable and newer rash of small SUVs fighting for the family dollar, the Meriva always had its own distinctive style.
Throughout its life, it was offered with a number of engine options, ranging from 1.4-litre petrols through to 1.3-litre, 1.6-litre and 1.7-litre diesels.
There were four trim levels to choose from: Life, Club, Tech Line and SE. Entry-level models got air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, 16in alloy wheels and front foglights as standard, while upgrading to Club added curtain airbags, a chrome exhaust tip and sliding front cupholders. Mid-range Tech Line adorned the Meriva with 17in wheels, heated front seats and steering wheel, electric windows and parking sensors, while range-topping SE got a panoramic sunroof, Vauxhall's OnStar system and underseat storage at the front.
Out on the road, the entry-level naturally aspirated 1.4 petrol is a little lacking in puff. Better are the turbocharged 1.4 engines, in 118bhp and 138bhp forms, both of which have enough power to move the Meriva around well and are smooth and refined in use. If longer runs are going to be a common occurrence, a diesel will be more relaxed. The 1.3 is rather slow and a bit noisy. The 1.6 replaced the original 1.7 and is fairly quiet, only starting to get very gruff above 4000rpm. It is still relatively weedy, though, in terms of performance but it will at least save you money at the filling stations.
When it comes to tackling corners, the Meriva feels grown up if not terribly exciting. There’s a fair amount of body lean, but the car grips well and the handling is safe, secure and entirely predictable. Generally, it’s a comfortable car, too, but the ride often gets caught out by sharp ridges, joints and potholes, and there’s too much fidgeting at lower speeds around town.
The Meriva's raison d’être, though, is the amount of space it offers for its diminutive size and the increased practicality afforded by those novel rear doors. They might seem like a gimmick but they actually work remarkably well. When they are opened wide, they undoubtedly offer easier access to the rear seats. The doors also allow better access for installing child seats, because you’ll be naturally facing the seat as you lean in. In tighter spaces, it’s easier to slide into a car with a conventional rear door, however – and more so if both you and the driver want to get in or out at the same time.
There’s a semi-raised, comfortable driving position that’s higher than a conventional hatch’s. Spread before the driver is a dashboard that carries forward themes from both the contemporary Vauxhall Insignia and Vauxhall Astra. The rear bench can accommodate three but work far better as separate seats for two. The centre part of the bench folds and falls forward slightly, allowing the outer two seats to be moved backwards and – simultaneously on a rail – inwards to give rear passengers more leg and elbow room.
With the rear seats in place (and in their forward position), boot space is a respectable 400 litres; it rises to 1500 litres with the seats completely folded. A novel but expensive bumper-mounted bicycle carrier could be specified on newer cars, so it might be worth seeking out one of those.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Vauxhall Meriva MPV?
The Meriva will have been used mostly in the cut and thrust of urban traffic, in city centre car parks and on school runs. It’s worth checking the front and rear for scuffs and dents, and the alloy wheels (if fitted) for kerb damage. Look at the operation of both the rear doors and rear seats, making sure the latter slide and recline as they should.
What are the most common problems with a used Vauxhall Meriva MPV?
Make sure all the electrics work, because this is the only area to have caused concern to Meriva owners. Most reported problems have been minor issues that were often fixed speedily under warranty. Older diesels sometimes have problems with their diesel particulate filters clogging.
Is a used Vauxhall Meriva MPV reliable?
The Meriva has a good reputation for reliability, as did its predecessor, with few reported breakdowns. It’s known for being one of the more reliable cars in the small MPV class.
Vauxhall as a brand finished in 18th place out of 32 manufacturers in our latest reliability survey.
What used Vauxhall Meriva MPV will I get for my budget?
It’s possible to get a Meriva of this generation for below £3000, but it’s likely to have a high mileage. We’d recommend spending between £4000 and £6000, which would net you 2013 or 2014 cars with an average mileage for the year and a full service history, bought from an independent dealer. Up the budget to £7000-£9000 and you’ll get a 2015 car with an average mileage for the year.
How much does it cost to run a Vauxhall Meriva MPV?
The most economical version of the Meriva is the 1.6 CDTi 110, with claimed average fuel consumption of 74.3mpg and 99g/km of CO2 emissions. The 1.3 CDTi diesel managed a maximum of 68.9mpg, while the best petrol-engined car was the 1.4T 120 with a claimed 47.9mpg.
Annual car tax for Merivas registered before the tax changes of April 2017 – and most were – varies according to CO2 output, but is respectable in cost at between £20 and £80 per year, with the most economical versions of the 1.6 CDTi 110 being free.
Insurance groups are similarly modest and servicing costs are reasonable, too. Parts are plentiful and there are lots of specialists that will service the Meriva at cheaper rates than a Vauxhall dealer. That said, there are a number of servicing plans available for owners of used Merivas, ensuring not only an element of forward planning but also payment by direct debit.
Which used Vauxhall Meriva MPV should I buy?
Although not as economical as the diesel-engined cars, we’d seek out a 1.4T car in its lower-powered variant, because this has enough pace and excellent fuel economy. Top-of-the-range SE trim is nicely equipped, whereas the lower trims are a little too spartan.
Our favourite Vauxhall Meriva 1.4T 120 SE
What alternatives should I consider to a used Vauxhall Meriva MPV?
The Ford B-Max is, like the Meriva, an oddity not often seen. But for those looking for a compact but practical car that's reasonably good to drive and fairly cheap to own and run, it’s worth taking a look. The B-Max also comes with sliding rear doors so, like the Meriva, has its own stylistic quirk.
The Citroën C3 Picasso is good to drive, practical and spacious inside. It’s cute, too, which will appeal to many, and the car comes with a range of efficient engines.