The MPV gets a little SUV

German automaker Opel first offered the Meriva in 2003, but because Opel is a subsidiary of General Motors, the model got a Chevy bowtie in South America and a Vauxhall badge in the U.K. Based on the third-generation Opel Corsa C, the Meriva was styled as a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) five-door that offered seating for five passengers and ample rear cargo space, as well as a selection of conservative gasoline and diesel engine options. In 2010, the Meriva received a second generation, with larger exterior dimensions and a new six-speed automatic transmission. A facelift followed in 2014, and now, there appears to be a third generation on the horizon. Nothing official has been revealed as of yet, but it’s expected the new model will get a crossover-esque makeover, as well as a few significant interior upgrades.

Fueling speculation is the recent release of a series of spy images, which show a test mule out on public roads and decked out in extensive camouflage. Our undercover photographers also managed to grab a few shots of the cabin, and although most of it is under wraps, we now have a good idea what the production model could offer when it comes to market.

The Meriva is one of the cars slated to arrive as the product of a strategic partnership between PSA Peugeot Citroen and GM, which joined forces in 2012 in the hopes of co-developing models for the European market. Some say the partnership is on its way to a divorce, which means the third-gen Meriva could very well be part of the first – and last – wave of vehicles put forth by the tie-up.

We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case, but for now, read on for my speculative review on the new Opel Meriva.

Continue reading to learn more about the future Opel Meriva.

Spy Shots

Testing Session - August 2, 2016

2017 Opel Meriva
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2017 Opel Meriva
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2017 Opel Meriva
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Exterior

2017 Opel Meriva Exterior Spyshots
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The current Meriva looks like a traditional MPV (in the U.S., it would be called a minivan). Dimensionally, it’s considered a compact, with a 104-inch wheelbase, a length of 169 inches, a width of 71 inches, and a height of 64 inches. In front is a short, rounded nose, which rises to a flat roofline that maximizes interior space. The rear is squared to accommodate tall items in the cargo area.

The spied test mule appears to be in the shape of a compact crossover, which would back previous speculation that the new model is ditching the waning interest of MPVs in favor of the much more popular SUV segment.

Although it’s heavily camouflaged, the spied test mule appears to be in the shape of a compact crossover, which would back previous speculation that the new model is ditching the waning interest of MPVs in favor of the much more popular SUV segment.

In front, the fascia appears much more upright and bold, as opposed to the sloped beak of the current model. The headlights appear more horizontal as well, which should give it additional visual girth.

In profile, the test mule appears to have a much chunkier rear end, with a roofline to match. Bolder fenders look to promise the option for a plus-sized wheel and tire package. Also of note are the rear door handles, which are positioned towards the tail, rather than the middle of the vehicle. This means the Meriva will most likely ditch the “Flexdoor” suicide-hinged rear doors. Too bad.

In back are high-mounted taillights, which will add to the height of the Meriva’s stance. I also see a trailing edge spoiler coming off the top of the hatch, as well as the suggestion of roof rails.

Overall, expect a much more rough-and-tumble package when the camo finally comes off. It’s also possible the exterior dimensions will grow slightly.

Interior

2017 Opel Meriva Interior Spyshots
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Our look at the test mule’s interior is blocked by heavy fabric draped across the dash, a piece of plastic in front of the gauge cluster, and the pixelated face of a bearded man. However, our spy photographers still managed to snag a few decent shots to give us an idea of what’s in store.

First, it seem as though the 2016 Opel Astra heavily influenced the look and layout.

First, it seem as though the 2016 Opel Astra heavily influenced the look and layout. The steering wheel, for example, closely resembles the three-spoke design of the Astra’s wheel, even down to the thumb-operated controls on the sides. Behind the wheel is what appears to be an identical gauge cluster, with a tachometer on the left and a speedometer on the fight. Sitting in the middle is a driver’s information display.

Moving to the center console, we find Astra-esque air vents flanking a large touch screen. It’s expected that IntelliLink will provide the infotainment, which should include optional navigation. Below the screen are three knobs for the HVAC controls, which get chrome surrounds.

Also notable is the single-button starter ignition, which can be found just to the right of the steering column. We’re told this was spotted in one tester and not another, suggesting it’ll be an optional extra on the production variant.

The new Meriva will also probably get basic driver’s aides like a backup camera, park assist, and a blind-spot monitor, plus features like Bluetooth connectivity, a USB connection, and dual-zone climate control.

Drivetrain

2017 Opel Meriva Exterior Spyshots
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The current Meriva offers a wide selection of engine options, including a 1.6-liter diesel and a 1.4-liter gasoline burner, both coming in various states of tune. Transmission options include a five-speed manual, six-speed manual, and a six-speed automatic.

This latest generation is expected to come with the choice of either a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, or a 1.6-liter four-cylinder oil burner. Both should be offered in a few different states of tune, plus come start-stop functionality for extra efficiency.

As for transmission options, a manual will come as standard, while a six-speed automatic will be an available option. Also standard will be FWD, while AWD will be extra.

Underneath, the new Meriva is expected to get the PSA Citroen Peugeot EMP2 platform – the same underpinnings as the Peugeot 408 and 308, not to mention the Citroen C4 Picasso.

Prices

In its native Germany, the Meriva currently starts at 16,435 euros ($18,905 at current exchange rates, 05/03/2016). Even with the new SUV-esque body style and refreshed engine lineup, I wouldn’t expect the base MSRP to rise too much.

Production will take place at the GM plant in Zaragoza, Spain, with a reveal expected by the end of the year, probably at the 2016 Paris Motor Show in October. Sales will begin sometime in 2017.

Competition

Nissan Qashqai

2015 - 2018 Nissan Qashqai
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Nissan’s ubiquitous compact crossover (also known as the Rogue here in the U.S.) has been a huge hit across the globe, selling in droves across multiple markets. Engine options include two gasoline powerplants (113-horsepower 1.2-liter and 148-horsepower 1.6-liter), as well as two diesel units (109-horspower 1.5-liter and 128-horsepower 1.6-liter). A six-speed manual is standard, while a CVT is an available option. You can also get AWD if so inclined.

Read our full review here.

Skoda Yeti

2013 Skoda Yeti
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The Yeti offers a large, practical SUV body style with a fun attitude behind the wheel. It’s also quite affordable, and should slot in just below the Meriva in terms of pricing. While not exactly the most comfortable thing on the road, this compact should get the job done if you’re looking for the occasional smirk. Engine options include both gas and diesel burners.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2017 Opel Meriva Exterior Spyshots
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I see what Opel is doing. Moving the Meriva to a new body style seems well intentioned, as it should get a lot of sales, even in something as bloated as the compact crossover segment.

The question I have is where will it standout? Will it get loads of new features for the money? Will it ride comfortably and smoothly and offer a more premium appeal? Will it be more practical and efficient? It certainly doesn’t appear to be exciting, so I’m guessing high value and a premium approach will be the way to go, something the brand will be able to afford given support from GM.

That said, we will just have to wait and see where it ends up. Hopefully it won’t get lost in the shuffle.

  • Leave it
    • Not exactly exciting… in any way
    • Tons of competition
    • How will it stand out from the crowd?
    • No more Flexdoor
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