Tardis-like design has become very popular in recent years, and one of the first truly small cars to offer serious interior space was the original Vauxhall Meriva. Based on the Corsa, this high-roofed mini-MPV is brilliantly versatile thanks to its FlexSpace seating, which allows the three rear seats to be adjusted individually. Throw in dependability and surprisingly good dynamics with low purchase costs, and the Meriva makes a lot of sense.
4/03: The Meriva arrives, with a 1.6-litre petrol engine only, offering 87bhp or 100bhp.
10/04: There's now a 90bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine available, along with 74bhp 1.7DTi and 100bhp 1.7 CDTi units.
11/05: A 123bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine debuts.
1/06: A facelifted Meriva brings a revised nose and tail, new colours and wheels plus two new engines - a 74bhp 1.3CDTi unit replaces the 1.7DTi unit and a 103bhp 1.6 TwinPort supersedes the previous 1.6.
5/06: The 178bhp Meriva VXR joins the range.
Vauxhall Meriva (2003-2009) Checklist
- Power steering faults are very common; it's an eletric system and the problem is usually down to the motor playing up.
- On petrol-engined models, the camshaft retaining bolts can slacken off, leading to the shaft breaking. They need tightening every service.
- The gear linkage can wear badly.
- Tax rates on some cars are high, so check the CO2 emissions before buying.
- The Easytronic transmission is an acquired taste; try one thoroughly before buying.
- Cheap to buy
- Cheap to run
We Don't Like
- Lacklustre design
- Some models are basic
- Plasticky interior
- Very thick A-pillars
- VXR makes no sense