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Used Vauxhall Meriva review

Read cinch’s Vauxhall Meriva review for a closer look at this people carrier, including what the model is like to drive, and its features.

Design

Vauxhall’s Meriva is a stylish MPV with the same swept-back headlights and grille as the last-shape Vauxhall Insignia. Every version gets alloy wheels, body-coloured door mirrors and front fog lights, with higher trims boosting the wheel size and adding a panoramic sunroof and parking sensors. 

It’s not immediately obvious, but the Meriva’s front and rear door handles are very close together – that’s because the back doors are rear-hinged and open wide to provide better access to the rear seats than a conventional people-carrier. It means people who are less mobile should find it easier to get in and out, and it’ll be easier to fit child seats. 

The Meriva is the only MPV to have rear-hinged rear doors, although the rival Ford B-Max offers a rival solution by having no central ‘B’ pillar and rear sliding doors. The Meriva’s design is defined by its smarts. 

What's it like to drive?

The Meriva petrol engine line-up kicks off with a standard 1.4-litre unit, which is fine in town. The turbocharged 1.4T has more grunt for use on quicker roads. There’s also a 1.6 CDTi diesel, which is refined and economical – it’s the star of the show. 

The Meriva’s suspension provides a comfortable ride, with rougher roads being smoothed away nicely, and the MPV handles well – it doesn’t roll too much in corners or on roundabouts.  

It’s a quiet thing to travel in, too – the interior is particularly hushed at motorway speeds, so long-distance journeys are well within the Meriva’s remit. 

Interior

The Vauxhall Meriva’s interior is its trump card. From the moment you open the rear-hinged rear doors you know you’re in something different. You still have a pillar between the front and rear doors, but you’re presented with a wide aperture that makes access easier for everyone, from the less mobile to parents who wrestle with bulky child seats 

The outer rear seats slide forwards and back individually to maximise legroom or boot space. The real party tricks don’t end there as the central rear seatback can be folded down and those outer seats slide inwards and back to create a 4-seater car with more shoulder space for the rear pair. Vauxhall calls this its FlexSpace system.  

The front seats are just as spacious, offering plenty of headroom and are comfortable for longer journeys. The driver’s seat is high enough to provide a good view of the road. 

As with the exterior styling, the soft-touch dashboard borrows a fair amount from the Vauxhall Insignia. Most examples get a display on the top of the dash for the audio (Bluetooth is fitted to most cars), and you’ll find a colour sat-nav display on some models. Below this, there’s the radio, CD player, phone and ventilation controls. Conventional analogue dials are tucked behind the multi-function steering wheel and all cars get an electronic handbrake. 

Higher-trim Meriva add climate control, more airbags, heated front seats and steering wheel, and storage beneath the front seats. A digital radio was optional when new. 

Practicality

The Meriva’s rear seat practicality is added to by large door bins, a glovebox and a handful of storage trays throughout.  

On SE and Exclusive trims, you get a FlexRail system that allows storage bins to be secured and moved around the cabin – there are more than 30 configurations. Some even come with a FlexFit bike carrier that slides out from behind the rear numberplate. 

The boot is spacious with all rear seats in place – there is enough room for 2 or 3 suitcases and more than enough for a week’s food shopping. With the seats folded flat (the seat backs are split 40/20/40), the space extends to 1.75 metres long and you’ll be able to fit all sorts of bulky loads inside thanks to the large boot opening. There’s also underfloor storage on some Meriva. 

Reliability and running costs

The 1.6-litre diesel is the most economical engine in the Meriva. Officially, it’ll average up to 74.3mpg but expect closer to 50mpg in the real world. You are likely to see economy in the 30s with the 1.4 petrol, regardless of whether it’s turbocharged.  

You will find the Meriva sits in insurance groups between 9 and 15 for petrol models and 13 to 17 for diesels – it’s likely to be most affordable to those with a few years’ experience under their belts. 

Vauxhall sells all its cars with a 3-year warranty when new and the last Meriva rolled off the production line in 2017, so you might want to consider cinchCare for added peace of mind. 

What cinch loves

We love the Meriva’s practical interior – from the clever Flex Space folding and sliding rear seats to the well-shaped, capacious boot, storage options and those funky rear-hinged rear doors that make fitting child seats into the rear Isofix mounting points a doddle, it’s a winner. We also love the fact that the Meriva has been give the maximum5stars by crash safety experts Euro NCAP (every car comes with electronic stability control), which means the family will be secure.

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Perfect for

Parents

Town and country drivers

Verdict

Good

Choose a Meriva and you’ll own a car with one of the most versatile interiors around, with access made particularly easy thanks to those funky rear doors. It is good to drive and refined, while a strong safety rating makes Vauxhall’s compact MPV ideal for the school run as well as holidays in far-away places.

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