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Meriva Magic

Straits Times, Singapore

It's barely bigger than the Nissan March. But it feels spacious and drives well

By CHRISTOPHER TAN

MUCH hype has been spun over alternative power of late, but to the average motorist, it is alternative use of space that captures the imagination.

Opel made a name for itself with the Zafira by fitting three rows of seats in a car about the length of a Corolla. It started a trend, with manufacturers like Honda and Toyota following suit with the Stream and Wish.

They're all markedly different from the Mitsubishi Spacewagon of 20 years ago. Although the first to accommodate seven in a compact body, the Spacewagon did not have good access nor the versatility of foldable-moveable seats. Its headroom was limited too.

Since then, the space race has taken on a new twist: flexible seating in a subcompact with decent room. Think Honda Jazz, Mitsubishi Colt and Hyundai Matrix - all selling well, and all poised to displace the traditional three-box sedan shape as the preferred family car.

And now, we have the Opel Meriva.

It is clearly positioned between the Asian choices and the one car that started the ball rolling - the Mercedes-Benz A-class.

The Meriva is well-built, with a solid feel all around. Finishing is of a high standard. In fact, its interior trim and equipment level rival that of the Merc A-class. And of course, it has a truly versatile seating arrangement. It performs all the folding tricks, plus there is a centre armrest-cum-storage bin in the second row that can be tucked away quickly.

For a car barely a foot longer than the Nissan March, it sure feels spacious. With four people on board, it is as airy as any large sedan.

Unique in its class is a twin audio system that lets passengers, via two headsets, listen to something other than what's coming out of the cabin speakers.

On the go, the car is clearly sporty, with enough low-end torque for city driving and a relaxed engine speed on the highway. The Easytronic transmission, which is an auto clutch-actuated format similar to those found in Alfa Romeo and Ferrari - and used in the Opel Corsa - suffers from bad shift shock. Especially in the first two positions.

Its upside, however, is efficiency. The Meriva delivers enthusiastic performance with better-than-average consumption.

For a tallish car, the Opel takes to corners well, with minimal leaning or body roll. Despite this firm suspension set-up, the car offers a comfy ride. It has excellent insulation, betraying no wind noise at higher speeds.

This Spanish-made car comes with three years of free maintenance. All wear-and-tear items are covered in this plan, except tyres. That should take a load off those who fear that Continental makes incur high after-sales costs.

OPEL MERIVA 1.6 EASYTRONIC

Engine: 1,598cc four-cylinder 16-valve

Transmission: Five-speed automated clutchless manual

Power: 100hp/6,000rpm

Torque: 150nm/3,600rpm

0-100kmh: 14.3 seconds

Top speed: 176kmh

Article Here



Opel's International Website
 

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Ming,

I wish GM would have brought this OPEL to the US as a Chevy (Mexico & Brasil have).

The Merivas fold flat flex seating is a nice touch. A barn burner it is not. For eco-utility, the Meriva would go to the head of the class.......


Ken
 

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Wow- this vehicle certainly sounds impressive. I hope vehicles such as this give GM a leg up in the Asian market--- and in the European one as well, for that matter.
 

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Sadly, the Meriva is another example of how GM fails to fully leverage its rather extensive global resources. I imagine that many [North] Americans would be in the market for such a vehicle.
 

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Well, it is a nice vehicle, the engine is a little anemic for that kind of car, but is very useful and it would make a nice Saturn. But I think that you guys would be happier with a Zafira.
 

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Originally posted by chev454ls@Jan 11 2004, 02:54 AM
That's hideous. I'm glad they're staying in Asia.
"This Spanish-made car comes with three years of free maintenance. All wear-and-tear items are covered in this plan, except tyres. That should take a load off those who fear that Continental makes incur high after-sales costs."

This must be a European review re-published in singapore.
 

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Well Lutz said a few weeks ago that GM is seriously considering bringing Opels to the united states as Saturn vehicles. The First would be to replace the L-Series, he said.
 

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Originally posted by TaHoE@Jan 12 2004, 12:26 PM
Well Lutz said a few weeks ago that GM is seriously considering bringing Opels to the united states as Saturn vehicles.  The First would be to replace the L-Series, he said.
Now that would be sweet. As long as they don't change them too much. Especially on the interior. Opels have some sweet interiors. :drevil:
 

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Originally posted by Erunion@Jan 12 2004, 01:20 PM
This car would flop in the USA.
I think it would clearly flop if it was marketed as a minivan. But people seem to be warming up to tall wagons and the like (Pontiac Vibe sales are good) - so as a Saturn vehicle slotted under the Relay minivan, I think it would be a unique and successful vehicle, if not on a massive scale. It also might be the perfect opportunity for a hybrid attempt from Saturn, now that they are dumping the idea of a VUE full-hybrid.
 

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Originally posted by Ming@Jan 12 2004, 01:00 PM
It also might be the perfect opportunity for a hybrid attempt from Saturn, now that they are dumping the idea of a VUE full-hybrid.
mm- now that might be an idea. I would never expect this car to sell in great numbers in the US, but if it was hybrid-- that could be cool. Green people are good with tiny cars, eh? ;)
 

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They should bring that as a Saturn and put it under the Ion's nameplate, you know, the sedan, coupe, and thing...
 
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