Sam Philip05 January 2010

New Meriva: unhinged

Vauxhall’s sensible family car gets suicide doors and kinky windows. What’s going on?

Vauxhall Meriva

Prepare for a shock. A small shock, admittedly, but a shock nonetheless.
 
This is the new Vauxhall Meriva. Not a 'concept previewing the new Vauxhall Meriva', but the real, production Vauxhall Meriva. And it has suicide doors!
 
Actually, Vauxhall doesn't call them suicide doors. They're FlexDoors, apparently, which "allow unimpeded forward access/egress to and from the cabin". That's marketing-speak for ‘make it easier to get in and out of the back'.
 
We are unashamed suckers for a good suicide door - even on a sensible five-seat family car - so the Meriva is off to a good start. And it should be a tidy all-round specimen when it goes on sale later this year after its debut at the Geneva show in March.
 
For a start, it looks good, adopting bits of Astra/Insignia design language - check out that ‘sideblade' running down from the front wheel arch - and adding a natty new kink in the window line, which helps to improve visibility from the rear seats but mainly looks rather good.
 
With a wider track and longer wheelbase than the outgoing Meriva, it should drive better than the old car. It'll be launched with a range of six turbo engines borrowed from the Astra, ranging from 74bhp to 138bhp. Strangely, there's no word on a VXR version yet.
 
We'll get our first look at the new Meriva in Geneva (poets, know it, etc.) this March. 

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