SOON, that well-used slogan“ flexible friend” will take on a totally new meaning.
For, from July, the second-generation Vauxhall Meriva MPV will hit our streets, complete with its unique-in-class FlexDoors, FlexRail and FlexSpace features, which combine to offer great occupant access, convenience and cabin versatility.
With a concept that is so simple yet so user-friendly, the rear doors on the Meriva are hinged at the rear which allow them to open backwards to an angle of nearly 90 degrees. This clever design creates unimpeded access for rear passengers to get in and out of the vehicle.
However, the real beauty of the FlexDoors concept is that it makes life a breeze for mums and dads who have to get their youngsters strapped securely into their child seats.
FlexRail offers a highly-functional, multi-purpose, three-tier storage system which stretches from the base of the gear lever housing and electronic parking brake switch through into the rear passenger compartment.
The top track carries a flip-top armrest-cum-storage unit, while below sits a sliding tray complete with cupholder. These can be removed to reveal a floor-level tray which also contains two cupholders and the 12-volt sockets and USB and aux-in ports.
Finally, FlexSpace allows various seating configurations inside the cabin to utilise the available space for any requirement.
While normally seating five, the new, larger Meriva can also be quickly converted into a two, three or four-seater. Both outer rear seats slide forward and back independently, and they can also move inwards to create more shoulder and elbow room.
The seat backs also fold flat to create a whopping, easily-accessed loading bay of up to 1,500 litres.
From launch, a choice of five engines will be available, three 1.4-litre petrol units delivering 99, 118 and 138bhp, along with a 1.3-litre and a 1.7-litre turbodiesel pairing, pumping out 74 and 99bhp respectively. Two other diesels are planned for later this year.
Sampling the petrol range around the city streets and country roads around Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow, I was highly impressed with the mid-range 118bhp, turbocharged offering.
As the most fuel-efficient and least-polluting of the three petrol models, it delivers a top speed of 117mph while the standard zero to 62mph dash takes 11.5 seconds, offering overall performance that will meet the requirements of most of the buyers this family-orientated vehicle is aimed at.
Vauxhall has even tweaked the steering on models destined for the UK market so as to give a feel more attuned to the taste of British drivers.
The Meriva is also equipped to be one of the safest and most stable vehicle in its class. Electronic stability control is fitted throughout the four-trim range, while electronic brake force distribution, straight line and cornering stability control and active rollover protection are also amongst the comprehensive features included as standard.