I’m driving the facelifted Vauxhall Meriva today. Yes, it’s pictured here. This is blink-and-miss-it stuff.
Thing is, there’s been plenty more going on below the surface – and, after testing out some of the new tech in prototype form at Opel’s engineering HQ last year, I’m hopeful of something more different (and more improved) than it looks.
Key drive for me will be the Meriva’s new 1.6-litre CDTi diesel. This was the standout of my tech day with Vauxhall/Opel last year: fitted to a Zafira Tourer, it was a bit of a punchy, smooth-running gem. 136hp and a great slug of pulling power installed in the smaller, lighter Meriva should be even more effective (evidenced by the fact this is the only one with a 0-62mph time to duck below 10 seconds).
There’s more though. Gearboxes, for one: €50 million has been invested in improvements, to great effect in the five-speed and six-speed ‘boxes I drove last year. After recently coming out of an Astra GTC Bi-Turbo whose six-speed shift was a little too long-winded, baulky and loose for the efficacy of the engine, I’m again keen to see if promise translates to reality.
There’s also a new turbo petrol engine with a revised automatic, which is hardly on the top of my priority list. Perhaps it should be: I’ll ask the brand manager today.
I’m keen to find out what the steering’s like, too. Yes, I’m driving a mini MPV and assessing the steering feel. Why? Because Vauxhall says it’s tuned it specifically for the UK, “to cater for more demanding British tastes”. That’s the sort of detail engineering I like: it shows that someone at Vauxhall cares about this sort of stuff.
As for styling, exactly what has changed then? Wait for it… a new grille. And some tweaked headlights, now available with LED running lights. Posh models have more chrome on the front end and there’s a new chrome beltline for the side.
18-inch wheels are now offered (“rare in this segment”, says Vauxhall) and there’s a new emerald green paint colour. Hardly revolutionary. Vauxhall will argue the FlexDoor-equipped car doesn’t need any great changes. Maybe it’s right. I’ll ask the question today.
It may seem like a case of nothing to see here, but there may be more to the new Meriva than meets the eye. Come back later and I’ll let you know.