The engine range of the new Meriva reflects the current trend for downsizing. Vauxhall offers three 1.4-litre petrol engines, two of which are turbocharged, plus one diesel: 1.6-litres (134bhp).

The new Meriva is larger and heavier than the model it replaces, and for the majority of applications, the 138bhp and 148lb ft turbocharged 1.4-litre engine prove more than sufficient. At MIRA, we recorded 0-60mph in 9.4sec (against an official 10.3sec from 0 to 62mph), which is fractionally faster than an Astra equipped with the same engine.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
One of the turbodiesels might suit it better, especially if you're doing lots of miles

This forced-induction engine is more linear than it is punchy, and it delivers a smooth, measured response. It is at its best in the mid-range, where it is quiet and responsive.

The same engine is available with 118bhp and 147lb ft which serves up a 11.5sec 0-62mph time and a naturally aspirated 1.4-litre which develops 99bhp and 96lb ft for a more leisurely 13.9sec 0-62.

If longer runs are going to be a common occurrence, the diesel will be more relaxed. The 1.6-litre unit replaces the 1.7 Isuzu-sourced unit, which only gets gruff above 4000rpm and is relatively weedy. The diesel breaks the 10sec barrier to 62mph. It does so by 0.1sec.

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With all-round discs, the Meriva performed well in our braking tests, stopping in less than 50 metres on wet and dry surfaces. However, in light use the brake pedal could do with better modulation to make the Meriva easier to drive smoothly at slow speeds.

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