SOMETIMES the replacement of an outgoing model with an updated version offers empty promises.
Despite lots of marketing hype' the changes only encompass a new front end, revised tail-light clusters, or a tweaked interior.
On other occasions, sweeping improvements through evolution, ensures that the revisions are enough to warrant calling the line-up new.
In the case of Vauxhall's 2010 Meriva that is exactly what has been achieved.
The outgoing range of small MPV's, which used to vie for customers considering Focus or Modus, has been replaced by a larger offering, that challenges the likes of C-Max and Scenic, in the compact sector.
And whilst it has moved up in the world, it continues to do what it says on the tin, that is ferry families safely from A to B.
At 236mm it is longer than the older model. It is also wider but its height remains the same. These extra dimensions have allowed the Vauxhall engineering and design teams to improve on-board facilities, engine power, economics, and safety.
Whilst these factors are important, new Meriva's main claim to fame will undoubtedly be its rear door configuration.
Opening in reverse to normal rear doors, they allow easier access to the rear seats and compliment a whole raft of new cabin features, which all add up to a refreshing new take on the people carrier.
Vauxhall kicked off its upmarket approach to interiors some time back with latest Astra. First class travel is now the norm, and Vauxhall cabins can compete with the kind of classy interiors found on most Fords and every Audi.
Any family-oriented vehicle worthy of its name, has to be capable of catering for passengers and their luggage.
The Meriva with its Flexi doors, and its flexi luggage space is a leader in the art of doing both.
Legroom in the rear can be improved by the sliding seats and by the fact that they can also be moved sideways offering more elbow room if only two passengers are riding shotgun.
The luggage area, on the other hand can accommodate from 400 litres to 1500 litres, a boon when going on holiday. It also boasts a flexi-fit rear bicycle carrier, which is useful, and a flexi compartment between the front seats which is not.
I prefer the boxed-in style compartment rather than these sliding rails and its cover, which got jammed and stopped me using the bottle holder until it was removed. But overall the interior of the Meriva is modern, trendy and functional.
Its suspension is also good, its response to the accelerator and brakes is top class, and it has a finely balanced steering as well as good all round vision, which all add to the driving enjoyment and stress free feeling it offers.
The car is further enhanced by its on road performance which is quietly efficient.
The line up entry level is a 1.4 100PS model. The flagship the 1.7CDTI. I tried the 120PS 1.4 turbo and found it smooth running enough to make me feel that even fully ladened the nippy power pack had the guts to perform.
With a top speed of 117mph it handled the motorway and the rural roads adequately and its extra urban fuel return of 56.5mpg is competitive, as is its CO2 emission rating of 143g/km.
If you are looking for a version with even more economic credentials, the 1.3 diesel with an emission rating of 129g/km and a fuel usage of 65.7mpg on the extra urban cycle is your best bet.
I found the Meriva model ticked all the boxes and is the one tipped by Vauxhall to be the sales leader.
There are some 17 variations in three different trims, Expression, Exclusiv and SE. There is also a long list of options ranging from a full length glass roof to satellite navigation, and the range has a price structure that will tempt buyers.
The entry level petrol Expression is priced at £12,995. The 1.4 Exclusiv carries a mid range price of £17,365, the top of the range 1.7 diesel in SE trim is £21,225.
The new Meriva is a welcome addition to the Vauxhall stable and should prove to be a decent seller and help fill up its depleted coffers.