5dr MPV [1.4, 1.3 CDTi, 1.6 CDTi]

By Jonathan Crouch


In improved post-2014-era second generation guise, Vauxhall’s little Meriva people carrier turned out to be smarter and more efficient, with the option of impressive 1.6-litre diesel power at the top of the range. Its primary selling points though, remained much as before. So the clever FlexDoor arrangement that’ll make life a bit easier for parents on the go remained, plus buyers got a range of neat interior flexibility touches that should also make quite a difference in day-to-day living. Overall, it’s a people-friendly choice that could be perfect for small families.

The History

Family cars ought to be designed for families. Here’s a car we reckon you could very easily live with as a used buy – the much improved version of Vauxhall’s second generation Meriva compact MPV that the brand launched in 2014.

We sometimes wonder if many of those responsible for creating some of today’s best sellers have been anywhere near a typical family with squabbling kids and a need to organise snacks and bags, dogs and child seats. It’s a hassle and parents need a compact, affordable car to make it easier. A car perhaps, like this Meriva.

The first MK1 version of this Vauxhall, launched in 2003, was a supermini-MPV, the very smallest kind, and though it tried its best to be versatile, ultimate lack of size told against it for many. This MK2 version, originally introduced in 2010, was bit bigger – not Scenic or C-MAX-sized but large enough to create a viable, more flexible alternative to a Astra or Focus-sized family hatchback. There are only five-seats of course – it isn’t that big – but the space you do get is very cleverly used and impressively accessible thanks to a novelty, the ‘FlexDoors’.

They certainly make getting in and out a lot easier, but Vauxhall was always keen to remind us that this car was about more than just its doors. To emphasise the point, they introduced a substantially updated version of this second generation model in the Spring of 2014 with smarter looks, extra equipment options and a more efficient Euro 6 engine range that included the segment’s most impressive diesel option, a whisper-quiet 1.6-litre CDTi unit. It’s the car we’re going to look at here as a used buy and it sold until mid-2018.

What To Look For

We found plenty of satisfied post-2014-era Meriva customers, but inevitably, there were some who had issues. There were lots of reports of assorted squeaks and rattles, so check for these on your test drive. In one case, an electric fault caused a loss of steering. On that subject, you’ll need to make sure all the electrics work, because we’ve come across several reported problems, most of which were fixed speedily under warranty. Older diesels sometimes have problems with their diesel particulate filters clogging. One owner had a steering rack replaced and another found his starter motor catching fire. One owner had a fuel system issue; another had a fuel gauge fault and had a leaking drain pipe on the oil sump. We had a report of a head gasket failure. Other than that, it’s just the usual things. Check the alloys carefully for parking scrapes. And examine the interior plastics for signs of damage caused by younger members of the family.

On The Road

Though, unlike the original MK1 model Meriva, this second generation model never bothered with a manic VXR performance model, the news that virtually every variant in this car’s line-up features a turbocharger might lead you to expect more performance across the board than is actually on offer. Actually, the turbo approach in this case is less about speed and more about efficiency. And no variant in the line-up sums that approach up better than the 1.6-litre CDTi. Vauxhall calls this its ‘Whisper Diesel’ and it was the major change with the improved post-2014 model line-up. Sure enough, refinement is far better than was provided by the rumbly old 1.7-litre powerplant that following the facelift initially continued on for a short period for those in search of automatic transmission, though to be fair, that’s not saying very much. The ‘whispering’ 1.6 was offered in two guises – the 110PS version most will buy and the 136PS model we’d prefer.

We’ve always struggled to recommend the company’s diesel models from this era, but this one’s different, quiet and free of vibration and eager to pull from right down low in the rev range for effortless progress. The 110PS variant isn’t especially fleet – expect to reach 62mph from rest in around 13s en route to a top speed of just over 110mph – but the 136PS version is quite as rapid as any car of this kind needs to be, its useful 320Nm of torque improving that showing to 9.9s and 122mph.

All of which is all very well if your budget will stretch towards the top of the range. If it won’t and you want a diesel in this car, then you’ll find yourself instead agonising between 75 or 95PS versions of Vauxhall’s trusty but aging Euro 5 1.3-litre CDTi unit, the pokier variant being the one to have. That’s not only because its rest to 62mph figure of 13.8s is over three seconds faster but also because it comes with the full suite of the brand’s ecoFLEX efficiency tweaks.

Most buyers though, will probably end up behind the wheel of one of the more affordable 1.4-litre petrol-powered Merivas. The determinedly budget-conscious can have this unit in normally aspirated 100PS guise, where 62mph is 14s away en route to 110mph. Better though, to stretch further and get this engine in the 120PS turbocharged form most will choose. Here, the stats improve to 11.3s and 117mph – which isn’t far off the 10.1s and 122mph showing of the top 140PS model.


Get the right deal and, providing you’re not looking for sterling petrol economy or the kind of dynamic handling really irrelevant to most buyers in this segment, there’s little else not to like about this car. It offers little touches that you’ll miss when you have to do without them, not least its double-opening party-piece: without doubt, this Vauxhall scores on the doors.