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.
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 Insignia and 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.