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Vauxhall Meriva - Embrace life

The current Vauxhall Meriva is the second generation of the mini MPV. It is a family car that compliments the Vauxhall’s other MPV, the Zafira. Like the Zafira, the Meriva has flexible seating and smart storage. It’s smaller than the seven-seat Zafira, so there’s only space for five. Although it is only capable of seating five, the Meriva allows access to the interior through the innovative FlexDoors.

FlexDoors

FlexDoors is the appropriate name for these rear-hinged 'suicide' doors. When opened, they allow unparalleled access to the cabin and are one of the most distinctive features of the car.

Model range

The Expression is the entry level Vauxhall Meriva, but it is packed with features. An electronic stability programme and ABS help keep the car on the road in difficult conditions. Twin front airbags and a collapsible steering column provide safety in the event of an accident. Heated door mirrors, remote controlled central deadlocking, and an adjustable steering column make this model a comfortable one to own. But it's missing some of the features that are exclusive to the S, Exclusiv, Active and SE models.

Front seat side-impact airbags and curtain airbags are available on more expensive models. Air-conditioning, cruise control, a mobile phone system with Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and tinted glass offer comfort to drivers that can afford to spend a little more than the minimum.

Ride and handling

With a longer wheelbase than the previous model, the latest Meriva has improved handling and ride. The ride is a bit firm for a family car but it is comfortable enough. The steering is heavy, particularly at low speed, and there isn’t much feedback when you accelerate. The chassis offers plenty of grip, but drivers will have to deal with body roll in the corners.

The verdict

The Vauxhall Meriva is a safe, comfortable and user-friendly car that offers plenty of space for large families in a stylish and charming package. It is designed to be flexible. The rear-hinged FlexDoors are the most striking feature of the car, but FlexSpace seating and FlexRail storage are more important features for owners.

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