Traditionally, Vauxhall has been the bridesmaid to Ford, but the Meriva MPV was one of the models tasked with redressing the balance of power in the mainstream new and used sales markets. And so it ensued as their Meriva launched in 2003 and went on to sell into the millions in Europe over the last decade. Consistent sales kept the Vauxhall Meriva at the top of its game, but more recently there has been a sizeable slump in the overall market. The 2014 facelift has come along to revitalise the model's fortunes moving forward as interest in the market has been peaked by new rival models from Fiat and Ford. So what's new on the new 2014 Vauxhall Meriva and will it reboot this popular model to hit its previous heights? Let's see just how much has changed and how it will affect one of Vauxhalls highest grossing cars:
New styling tweaks
Facelifts on cars are just the same as they would be in humans; we are supposed to notice subtle improvements, but without noticing that any work has been done. The styling changes take a back seat to what has gone under the bonnet, but there are some small differences that can be seen on closer inspection. The Meriva gets a slightly adjusted front end with a grille to be more like the latest Insignia; meanwhile, the front lights are redesigned and a touch more refined. There is also more of a chrome finish to be found around many features, which gives it a more premium feel. The facelift has been more of a refresh than a complete revamp and hints at an ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality from Vauxhall.
Innovative features remain
Standing out in the crowd is the most important aspect for any mainstream car looking to sell in vast numbers. The Meriva did this by taking an aspect from the Rolls-Royce and installed backwards-hinged rear doors, which helped with accessibility in the back. Importantly, this touch remains and continues to help the Meriva be a little bit different in an immensely competitive class. Inside the smart FlexSpace rear seating is unchanged, which allows you to exchange space for passengers easily. This adds to the boot capacity that can go from impressive 400-litres with seats up and a cavernous 1,500-litre when placed down. Vauxhall cars major on practicality and their innovative features keep them on the same track with the facelifted new 2014 Vauxhall Meriva.
One of the main complaints about older versions of the Meriva was a lack of punch from the engines on offer. The undoubted star of the new 2014 line-up is the 1.6-litre CDTi 136, which can truly live up to Vauxhall’s claim of ‘whisper quiet’ engines. It is remarkably silent whether being thrashed or gently cajoled along; meanwhile it delivers plenty of torque, which gives it the pull and feel of a much larger car. The emission figures from it are just as impressive with a drop to 116g/km, which could reduce your road tax by as much as a hundred pounds per annum.
Improved drive, ride and handling
Again the Vauxhall Meriva has lagged behind the Ford B-Max in drive quality, but the latest incarnation is looking at reeling it back in. It is a matter of fine-tuning that has boosted the drive of the new 2014 Vauxhall Meriva. The steering has been recalibrated for UK roads and is crisp and responsive; meanwhile, changes to the six-speed transmission make for faster and more precise shifting. The ride is comforting and stable at almost all speeds; offering the ability to smooth out the bumps on the motorway and potholes in the city. The drive may not be as dynamic as it could be, but it won’t let you down and everyone should appreciate the subtle attempts to make such a practical and rugged family car more exciting to pilot in and out of town.
Interior tech revamped
As we know, the flexible seating and versatility of the 2014 Vauxhall Meriva remain, but there is also some additional technology making an appearance. If you can afford it there is an improved IntelliLink infotainment system that takes the seven-inch screen from the Adam and Insignia models. This improves connectivity within the cabin and even allows you to utilise your iPhone from your steering wheel, which is a pretty clever and useful bit of kit.
Safety and economy as standard
A necessary requirement of all family cars is to perform safety tests and the all-new 2014 Vauxhall Meriva retains a five-star Euro NCAP crash score. Better still electronic stability controls put your mind at rest when racing around town. Then, we come onto the economy, which is vastly improved by the new engine range and already meets the new EU requirements demanded of cars going on sale from this autumn; which is bound to be a feather in the cap of the new Meriva moving forward.
The Vauxhall Meriva facelift is as subtle as they come and is more focused on righting some minor wrongs that nagged, rather than anything more serious. These improvements are aimed at finally overcoming Ford in the battle for class leadership and the quality of the new diesel engine may just help them topple their nemesis once and for all. If practicality comes first and driving verve second, then there is not many ahead of the all-new 2014 Vauxhall Meriva in the queue for your money.
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