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by Matt Brogan

In news almost certain to fall in to the category of “cars we’ll never get”, comes the first pics and specification details this morning of the UK’s new Vauxhaul Meriva.

Meriva has adopted a more expressive and dynamic silhouette to its basic cab-forward monocab design. Like the Insignia and Astra, a ‘blade’ features down the side of the body, complementing a window line with a distinct ‘wave’ accentuating the FlexDoors, allowing panoramic views for rear passengers.

The design theme continues in the Meriva’s cabin, with cues taken from the Insignia and Astra enhancing the perceived quality of the materials.

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What’s old is new again as Meriva features rear-hinged back doors, a move Vauxhaul say radically improve access/egress. The larger door opening and free space around the B-pillar means parents can lift small children forwards in to rear-mounted, second-stage child seats without having to contort themselves around a door. And with both the front and rear doors open (the fronts open at a similar angle to the rear FlexDoors) a ‘parent-friendly’ zone is created with no door barrier between front and rear occupants. Crucially, the FlexDoors can only be opened by occupants while the car is stationary, an automatic lock engaging as soon as the car pulls away.

While the concept of two rear-hinged back doors is not new in the motor industry, the Meriva’s FlexDoor system is the first time it has been used on a family car in recent years. But unlike other rear-hinged door applications (Rolls Royce Phantom/Ghost and Mazda RX8), the Meriva  benefits from front and rear doors that open independently, and does not require rear passengers to sit behind the door opening.

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Inside the new Meriva Vauxhaul’s FlexRail system adopts a completely fresh approach to the design of a car’s centre console, and provides owners with a variety of modular storage and comfort solutions that fix on to an ingenious dual-rail base. The new Meriva’s storage bin and cubby count has also increased, meaning that owners now benefit from one of the most practical cabins in class.

In addition, the current Meriva’s much-praised FlexSpace system has evolved with even greater practicality. Now more intuitive to use, the new Meriva’s FlexSpace allows easier fold-down of the rear seats, while moving the rear seats to create more boot, leg or shoulder room is simpler than ever.

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The new Meriva’s seat comfort has also advanced, with the adoption of front seat technology from the Insignia and Astra. Like these cars, the Meriva offers the biggest range of seat adjustment in class, extending to 240mm in length and 65mm in height.

With a longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks, buyers will see a marked improvement in the new Meriva’s ride and handling qualities.

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They’ll also see a reduction in running costs, since the engine line-up – which features six turbocharged units and power outputs ranging from 75 to 140PS (55 to 103kW) – benefits from an average fuel consumption/CO2 reduction of 15 per cent, or -25g/km across the range. A high mpg/low CO2 ecoFLEX model will also be available.

More information on the new Vauxhaul Meriva will be available closer to its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March this year.




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