Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test Rating: 71%

A cross between the Zafira and Corsa, Vauxhall’s compact Meriva is aimed at families who want a car with the practicality of an MPV, but with the size of a supermini.

Buyers aren’t short of choice; we had the 1.7 diesel but engines range from a basic 1.4 petrol model to a 180bhp turbocharged rocket.

So, does the Meriva hit the middle ground or is it stuck in the middle of nowhere?

Looks 7/10

It’s not a portrait of beauty but it’s not an ugly duckling either. The Meriva serves its purpose as a mini-MPV. The tinted windows add an element of cool and the colour coded bumpers compliment the curves. The addition of 15-inch alloys gives the Meriva a sportier look, helping to make the car look like more than just a people carrier, which traditionally adopts the practical, but dull look.

Looks inside 7/10

Not a bad setup. It’s not particularly sporty looking but the dials are clearly visible and the central section is well coordinated and easy to understand. The steering wheel controls allow easy navigation of the competent sound system. The sat-nav system, Bluetooth setup – which allows mobile phone use through wireless, voice-activated technology – and sound system above the dashboard act as a more functional, better looking tool, rather than just having a small display in the centre console.

Practicality 9/10

The Meriva’s trump card. It’s a mini-MPV, but it doesn’t mean there’s no room. The car can suitably accommodate four adults with its high roofline, but five is pushing it and not advisable on a longer journey. As the Meriva is aimed at the family market, it’s unlikely five adults will travel too far in it. The Meriva also features Vauxhall’s ingenious FlexSpace system which allows all the rear seats to be folded separately. However, there is an awkward blind spot on the driver’s side, which is not something you want when you take the kids to football on a Sunday.

Without fiddling with the FlexSpace seating, the Meriva’s boot capacity is an excellent 560 litres. Fold the seats down flat and the space more than doubles to a cavernous 1410 litres.

Ride and Handling 7/10

For a compact MPV the Meriva handles surprisingly well. There is little lean on corners and the ride is fairly refined. Speed humps and road bumps don’t cause the MPV too much trouble. However, due to the Meriva’s height and shape we wouldn’t advise cornering with your foot too far down the accelerator pedal.

Performance 7/10

The 1.7-litre turbo diesel engine produces 99bhp, sounds like a tractor at low speeds and isn’t particularly punchy. The car trots from 0-60mph in 12.4 seconds and has a top speed of 111mph. But it’s not supposed to be a performance MPV, that job belongs to the sportier VXR model. However, at the right revs, the 175lb/ft of pulling power is more than enough for climbing a hill or overtaking another vehicle. The Meriva cruises along the motorway at 70mph without any hassle and is fairly smooth.

Running Costs 7/10

We tested the 1.7-litre turbo diesel, which has an average economy of an impressive 53.3mpg. The Meriva comes with Vauxhall’s 3-year Customer Car Care Commitment, which provides a 3-year, 60,000 mile warranty, 12 months’ roadside breakdown cover and a free loan car if the Meriva is off the road. Group 6 insurance should mean a relatively low premium.

As a 1.7-litre model, the Meriva is in the higher tax bracket and will cost £175 for 12 months’ tax or £90.25 for 6 months. Carbon emissions are 143g/km which puts it into company car tax group 16.

The only problem with running costs is the initial payout for the car. The Meriva seems overpriced compared to its rivals. Prices for the base model start at £9,995 but our CDTi Design costs £15,420 on-the-road and with all the extras it comes to more than £17,000.

Reliability 7/10

Vauxhalls generally have a good name for reliability and we didn’t have any problems with our model. The engines feature in other Vauxhalls which haven’t had any real problems and the reliability index lists Vauxhall as ninth best for frequency and cost of repairs.

Safety 8/10

As with most new cars, the Meriva features anti-lock brakes and emergency brake assistance. There is a driver and front passenger airbag along with front seat side-impact bags. It achieved an impressive 4 star rating in the EuroNCAP test.

Equipment 7/10

Fully loaded, the Meriva does have a fair bit of kit, but it’s the price of the extras which can cause a shock. The satnav system is £1,200 extra and isn’t very impressive. It’s not going to add much to the value of the car so we’d advise buying a portable system which you can transfer from one car to the next at a fraction of the cost. It’s got most mod-cons including air-conditioning, power-steering and all-round electric windows. For the cost of the car, there is nothing spectacular about its equipment.

X-Factor 6/10

It’s a small people carrier, which doesn’t look particularly desirable, is overpriced and doesn’t have much to boast about performance wise. But if you’re looking for an MPV the size of a supermini, then the Meriva does the job.

Key Facts

Model Tested: Vauxhall Meriva CDTi Design
On the road price: £15,420
Tested: September 2006
Road Tester: Adrian Hearn