I've never been one for small cars, even though I had a corsa, the Meriva had caught my eye and I'd decided I wanted one. I saved for a few months then went to a vauxhall garage to have a look at some of the designs and prices of the car. I liked the Meriva Design a lot with trays on the back of the driver/passenger seat and tinted window, but they were about £9000 upwards, a little out of my price range unfortunately. I was then shown the Meriva Life by the salesman, it's like the model down from the Design so it doesn't have the tinted windows or trays, but it's not a great deal different.
I found the car that I liked on finance. It was a blue/green coloured, 05 reg meriva life. It hadn't got the little additions that the design had, but it was beautful. The car had one previous owner and had been a disability car with just 7400 miles when I got it.It was in grea condition as it had been used by an elderl couple and hadn't been raced around, and had been regularly serviced. I was told that it would cost me £110 a month for five years but after bartering and moaning, I got it for £90 a month with 6 months free tax. I couldn't have been more pleased. It's really interesting, because from some angles in the light, my car looks blue but in others, it looks green.
When I picked up the car, I was like an excited child and couldn't wait. I got in and was overwhelmed thinking WOW! It has so much space. It is a lot bigger than the corsa that I had with more leg room for my daughter and now my grandson doesn't kick the front seat. It has a CD player which is brilliant to play my music on which my previous car didn't have. It also has a little tray underneath the CD player that you press and it comes out where you can keep your ciggies or money. I usually stick my change in there from shopping. There's also a cigarette lighter hole, or the little plug you can charge things in, although it didn't come with a cigarette lighter. I don't think the put them in new cars anymore.
The boot on this car is brilliant. The 'floor' of the boot lifts up and the spare tyre is under there and you can put small things in there like a brolly and car sprays. The boot itself has a light so you can easily see inside and make you haven't dropped any shopping or anything. It has side compartments which are great to keep your shopping bags in or other things like your WD40 spray. The boot is large, very spacious and I keep a puschair in there and still can fill it with about 8 bags of shopping. The parcel shelf folds so you can completely fill the boot to the top. It's also higher up as it is a bigger car so I don't have to bend to get my shopping out of the boot.
The car has got power steering, so manouvering it is very easy. It is really easy to drive despite being bigger and it is really smooth. It is more comfortable than the corsa because the chair is bigger and I have much more space to move. The car has good visibilty making parking easy, the back window is really large so reversing isn't hard and the mirrors are positioned in a good place so I have a lot of visibilty when driving.
I usually put £10 a week which lasts me easily despite school run, shopping, visiting and other general car use. It costs me about £55 to fill the tank, although with the petrol prices going up, it'll probably be about £70 soon!
The meriva comes in a variety of colours, mostly silvers light and dark, a dark red, gold, dark blue and light blue and black. I have seen one or two purple ones and a greeny blue one that is mine, but not many. My car doesn't have alloy wheels, I have wheel trims, although there are lots of different alloys available for the car.
I always fold the wing mirrors in because someone knocked one of my corsa ones off. My daughter folded one of my mirrors in when we came home one night and she did it too hard and the glass dropped out and smashed. I went to the nearest bulldog and managed to get a new one for £5 so I do think that because vauxhall is such a popular car brand, getting the parts for it is really easy and isn't something to worry about unlike some of the foriegn cars.
I feel very safe in the car with my grandchildren, the car has an airbag for me and a passenger airbag which means my grandson can't sit in the front because he's still in a car seat and it's dangerous.
I like the radio style in the car, it isn't like the older corsa, you turn it on with a big round dial and turn it up and down with that. I do kind of miss a tape player because I have a lot of tapes being old fashioned, but my daughter has made me some CDs for the car.
The seats are very adjustable and can be moved right backwards and forwards, although when right back, I can't reach the steering wheel so I'm guessing that is for much taller people. You can pull the head rest up and down or completely off which my daughter often does so she can talk to her son in the back of the car. The back seats fold completely flat making the back of the car like a big van. When my daughter recently moved into a new house, I took all the laminate flooring up from three rooms and I managed to get most of it in my car and only had to make two trips, it was brilliant. Unlike the corsa, you can fold one, two or all three seats so someone can still sit in the back if you need a little more space but not much more. The seatbelts in the front are also adjustable, you can slide them up and down which is good, paticularly as I'm a bit of a shorty so the seatbelt doesn't cut into your neck.
In the back of the car, the middle seat has a seatbelt that comes from the roof, not just one to go around the stomach so that offers more comfort and protection of a third person sitting in the back although it's rare for more than two people to be in the back of my car.
The glove compartment in the meriva is really small, smaller than the corsa which I thought was a bit weird and I do miss that bit of space because I used to keep things like tissues in there and I'd put my purse and phone in there which I can't do anymore. It seems bizzare that a bigger car would have a smaller glove box than a smaller one but still.
The upholstery in the car is all grey and smart. The dashboard is a darker grey colour and all quite smooth and rounded off. It's a genuinely nice looking car, inside and out.
Both passenger and driver sides have a pull down sun-screen. You slide open the little 'door' on it and there is a mirror and there is a little pouch on the drivers side where you could keep papers or something like a disabled badge.
In the front of the car, infront of the gear stick, there's two cup holders which come in handy when we have a trip to Mcdonalds.
In the back of the car, there is another one of the cigerette lighters so someone in the back can charge their game or phone.
In the 11 months that I have had the car, I have never broke down or had difficulty in starting it which gives me a lot of confidence about driving further away from home because the last thing I need is to be driving down the motorway with two kids and to break down. It is definitely very reliable.
The insurance on the car cost me £360 for the year and the tax was £170 for 12 months, which I did struggle with a little bit but wasn't too expensive. According to the garage, it is in Band B for the insurance whatever that means?
I'm not one for figures and jargon when it comes to cars, in comparison to other cars I have driven, m 1.2 corsa included, it has more power when pulling away and can accelerate fairl quickly, I'm guessing because it's a bigger engine, although I can't say I use it to race around, I'm a little too old to be doing that now!
They've now brought out the new Meriva which caught my eye on the adverts, but I've since seen them in the street and I'm not keen, they're much smaller than the older ones and a total different shape, so I think I'll stick with mine for now, although when I've finished the payments on it, I wouldn't mind upgrading for the Design model.
Overall, this car is great. I feel a lot more comfortable and safe driving and my grandkids love having the extra room. I have more room for shopping and the puschair so it has definitely served its purpose as a brilliant family car for me. I don't regret buying it at all, even if I will be paying for it for another 2 years.
We call it the work-horse! I travel 100 miles a day for work (mostly motorway) and get nearly 50 miles to the gallon. OK, I do get overtaken by reps in their mercs etc, but it travels very nicely at 80 (oops 70, sorry officer). The flexibility of the seating means that I can either have 3 grandsons in the back and shopping , wellies etc in the boot, or (with the seats folded down) a huge amount of space for trips to the tip, garden centre etc. I have driven its big sister, the Zafira, many times, but this is a very cost effective alternative. No problem with flexibility to account for heights difference in drivers either - easy to re-position seats. The only criticism I have is with visibility - a limited problem with the A pillar when turning at a certain angle. An excellent family choice, with a bit of oomph too.
I haven't written a review on a car before and I will say right from the start that this is not about a great deal of stats and figures, even though there will be a few in here. This review is about my personal experiences that I've had with this car over the past 14 months. Normally I keep a car a lot longer than that but for many of the reasons below, I decided that it was time to look for something else.
The Meriva has been on the go for quite a few years now and is a five-seater people carrier. Part of the Vauxhall range, I did a bit of background checking on this car before I got it both from manufacturer sites and from sites such as Ciao and Dooyoo.
The reason I needed another car was because my Scenic at the time was developing problems and I would have had to spend quite a bit of money on it. I loved the Scenic so was sorry to see it go but still needed a car with five proper seats, as at the time I had three children living at home aged 17, 15 and 5. As finding another car in the price range I was looking for was becoming increasingly urgent, I probably bought this one before I had really looked around fully although that's not to say I didn't like what I saw to start with.
My version is a Meriva 1.6 Life 8V model and was registered as an 04 plate so it was two and a half years old when I got it. It had low mileage though and this attracted me along with a good deal from the Vauxhall Dealership who also offered me a year's free Network Q guarantee. This is apparently one of the best warranties around and although I only had to use it for a small fault with a sensor light, I had no costs to pay and the garage dealt with me quickly and efficiently. I can't fault the Vauxhall after service at all.
My Meriva is coloured a bright blue, which did catch my eye although I have to say that in recent winter weather conditions it does look extremely dirty, very quickly, even after a wash and polish.
Safety wise this car is advertised as being pretty good although I haven't had to put any of that to the test, apart from the ABS breaking system when a dog ran out in front of me recently. The dog was not hurt and my emergency stop was perfect.
The 8V version isn't actually available from new anymore but there are lots of older ones around and I know a lot of people like me can't afford to buy a brand new car so thought this would be useful for anyone looking for information. I did a bit of look around when I was selling mine for price comparisons, just so that I knew the garage wasn't ripping me off and found that you can probably pick one of this age up for around £4000 - £4500 depending on mileage and condition. The trade-in value for mine was £3700.
***The Good & Bad Points***
On first getting into the car and driving it around I found it easy to drive. I've driven quite a few different types of cars in the past so know how different each kind can be to get used to. The only thing that I kept forgetting about to start with, was that the lights are controlled by a circular dial to the right of the steering wheel as opposed to the indicator lever. Obviously full beam is on this lever but it did take me a while to remember where to go to find the lights.
As I'm a midget I sometimes find some clutches a bit difficult to use and this one did take a wee bit of getting used to. I hate sitting right over the steering wheel when I'm driving, especially on long distances and I found that I could comfortably manoeuvre my seat into a position that gave me this balance.
On the test drives that I took in this car I found it to be pretty good round town and on the dual carriageway but in real life I have found quite a few things that aren't quite as I expected them to be. The front side windows are a nightmare to see out of when you are driving because of the wide posts that link them to the windscreen. This isn't just a problem that I have found but my hubby has the same problem and he is much taller than me. When sitting at lights, I find I have to duck down to see when they are about to change and driving around corners or roundabouts can be difficult too, as visibility is pretty poor.
The firm seat that seems very comfortable for short driving distances, tends to give me extreme back and neck ache on longer trips and again my hubby has found the same problem. Being a front passenger isn't much better despite having ample legroom. The seat seems hard and I can never get it to angle just right for me.
In the back of the car my children all fit in nicely along with the car seat for my son. There isn't as much room in the back as with the Scenic but it is adequate and now that my elder daughter is off to university, I rarely have 3 passengers in the back. This means that the middle section can actually be brought down to make an arm rest and the other two seats move back slightly to give back seat passengers a little bit more room. This may also be a good idea if you want to put a wee bit of distance between toddlers although I am not in that situation now.
The back seats can also be folded flat to give a huge boot space and this has come in handy quite a few times for us, when buying big items from garden centres or furniture stores. The boot itself was quite disappointing really compared to the Scenic because it wasn't as deep and we found that we had to remove the parcel shelf when taking my daughter's cello to school and orchestra practises, whereas we were able to easily get it in the Scenic without having to do this. Even with the parcel shelf removed it took a bit of shifting it about to get it in a secure spot before we could safely drive off.
One great thing in the boot space though is that it has a bit of a false bottom where you can secretly hide away any valuables. We've managed to get the laptop in there in the past and also used it to hide some Christmas presents that we picked up whilst visiting family. I think this is a great idea especially since the glove compartment in this car is extremely small and it's a struggle to easily fit the driver's handbook and instruction manuals in it.
Another good point is that there is a couple of cigarette lighter sockets in the back of the car so if more than one person wants to charge up a phone then there are no fights. This is also good if you have a portable DVD as it means there are no trailing of wires through to the front. There is also one in the ashtray in the front although I rarely used this because it meant leaving the ashtray open all the time and quite frankly it gets in the way of air controls etc.
The car is a basic model and doesn't have any extras although it does have a good Blaupunkt radio and cassette player, which gives excellent sound. It also has a digital outdoor temperature gauge so you know whether to wrap up or strip off when you get out of the car. The aerial on this car is at the back and screws off, which is just as well as it isn't a very bendy one and it would hit off our garage door as we take it in and out of the garage. It's not so bad when you are going forward but reversing is a no go. You also have to watch this when entering some car parks with the height restriction barriers and of course car washes.
***The Other Techy Bits***
As I say I'm not very technical minded but I know that petrol consumption and emission levels which determine car tax are important these days so I have bad news here. Despite this car only being a 1.6, it comes in at a very high rate of emissions meaning that for a year's road tax, this car sets me back £205. This was a bit of a shock after £115 for my Scenic although it was a 1.4.
It's also not that great on mileage, in fact I think it's blooming terrible. Despite regularly services and MOTs finding nothing wrong, I only get an average mileage of 30 to the gallon, which is a lot less that the Scenic too. That's for mixed driving in town and on normal country roads. On a long journey with no town driving it goes up a little bit to about 35 miles to the gallon, which is still pretty low. With petrol costs continually rising, I feel that this is a major bad point to this car and the combined cost of high road tax and low consumption is the reason that I am gladly waving goodbye to this car.
The servicing of this car was about the same really as my Scenic although I do use a local garage and not a dealership so that saves a heck of a lot of money. For all the usual filters and oil change as well as spark plugs I was charge just under £70 plus vat for the parts so this seemed pretty reasonable.
It isn't advisable to use another garage if you are still under a guarantee though as it can void it and my guarantee was up at this time. The MOT had to be done at the dealership because of this but the guarantee covered anything that was wrong so I did have the assurance that it would only cost me the normal MOT price and no extras.
I don't put expensive tyres on my cars, as I do quite low mileage on average so I go for the budget variety from a local garage. It doesn't mean a lot to me but it uses 185/60 HR 15 and for the fitting of the two front tyres a couple of months ago it cost me £70.
Insurance is either group 4 or 5 for this car so that's pretty good really for the size of it although I have been told that this is due to the safety aspects.
So it is without heavy heart that I said goodbye to my Meriva the other day and I'm already enjoying driving my slightly newer Peugeot 206 SW. It hasn't been all bad with the car and I haven't had any major faults with it but then it's still only done 28,000 miles so is still pretty low mileage for being almost 4 years old.
The bad points really are the mileage and emissions although lack of comfort and poor visibility make this a car I would personally avoid in the future.
This review also appears on Ciao with photos.