Vauxhall Meriva Estate

We say A supremely practical small MPV with good interior space and flexible seating arrangement.However, kit levels are tight, it looks dull and the drive

We say A supremely practical small MPV with good interior space and flexible seating arrangement.However, kit levels are tight, it looks dull and the drive matches its staid exterior.Performance There’s an extensive engine line-up available on the Meriva but it’s bogged down in underpowered diesel units. In reality all engines lack any exciting performance figures with the 1.8-litre i-petrol unit, worth 123bhp, about as exciting as it gets, clearing 60mph in 10.3 seconds. Instead, the best choice are high-end diesel units. While they’re a bit slow, they provide enough low-end torque for good all round performance.Emissions The beauty of a diesel-heavy engine line-up is in fuel economy figures and CO2 emissions. Across the range CO2 emissions sit around 130-140g/km and fuel economy figures hover around 40mpg to 60mpg.Driving The Meriva handles as you’d expect a tall sided MPV to handle; there’s lots of bodyroll and very little feedback through the wheel which makes it dull to drive. Compared to the Ford C-Max and S-Max which are leaders in the segment.Feel Pick the right engine and the Meriva will be pretty hushed but every model is washy because of a soft suspension setup. That means it soaks up potholes and speed bumps but also lollops and rolls over bumps and around bends.Space Great space and practicality, with plenty of folding and splitting action. That means its 350-litre boot can grow and grow depending on what seats you use and what seats are folded flat. All three rear seats can be shifted individually as well to make room for peculiar packages.Equipment Base level has remote locking and a tape player, for God's sake. Air conditioning kicks in at Sxi level which proves that Vauxhall has been tight with usually basic levels of technology and kit. Poor.Price The Meriva’s diesels make it cheap to run but mean kit levels cancel out some of that value and force you up the specification levels. Entry-level Merivas cost as little as £10,000 and grow to around £19,000.Quality The interior is solid, solid and grey and boring, but robust. That sums it up; it’s hard wearing but it is drab and dreary. Without sounding melodramatic, it’s joy-sapping which isn’t helped by good noise insulation which means it’s miserably quiet inside as well. There won’t be any issues with reliability however.Safety The Meriva comes with a four-star safety award from Euro NCAP and ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and twin airbags in the front. Other than that the safety equipment list is quite bare.Pros The Meriva’s positives are obvious and revolve around practicality and affordability.Cons Once you get past the Meriva’s flexible seating arrangement and cavernous interior, there’s not a lot to like about it. The interior is boring and miserable and the equipment lists are mean.Alternatives Ford Fusion,

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