Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Opel Meriva: First Official Photos and Details on GM's Mini MPV with Suicide Rear Doors


While GM's U.S. division was unveiling the new Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, on the other side of the pond, the automaker's UK arm Vauxhall, and consequently Opel, pulled the covers off or shall we say, opened up the doors, to the all-new Meriva. Critically, the new mini-MPV is the first Opel to feature GM's FlexDoor technology, showcased on the 2008 Meriva concept model.

And by FlexDoors we mean the rear-hinged back doors that swing open towards the back of the car at an angle of nearly 90 degree. Even though the Meriva still uses a central B-pillar, the company said that the Flexdoors "vastly improve the ease with which occupants enter and leave the cabin".

Opel also highlighted the fact that, unlike other suicide-door applications such as on the Mazda RX-8 and Rolls Royce Phantom and Ghost, the Meriva's front and rear doors can open independently.

The Meriva's exterior styling has remained relatively close to the concept model keeping many features like the unique glasshouse design that incorporates a downward kink at the back doors just behind the B-pillar, unchanged, while it also shares many styling cues with both the Insignia and Astra.

While Opel did not release any pictures of the interior, the company said that the cabin will be heavily influenced by the Insignia and Astra both in terms of styling and perceived quality of the materials.

The mini-MPV's interior versatility will be boosted by the improved FlexSpace system that allows easier fold-down of the three individual rear seats that can also be mounted back independently to create more boot, leg or shoulder room.

A new feature for the 2010 Meriva is the FlexRail system that incorporates a dual-rail base on the lower center console allowing owners to attach a variety of modular storage bins.

The second-generation model of Opel's mini-MPV rides on a new platform with a longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks, thus promising to improve the car's ride and handling qualities.

Power will come from a lineup of six turbocharged diesel and gasoline units with outputs ranging from 75 to 140PS. Opel said that average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions will be down 15 per cent across the range while a high mpg/low CO2 ecoFLEX model will also be offered.

The new Meriva, which will compete against other mini-MPVs like the Citroen C3 Picasso, the Kia Venga as well as the Honda Jazz (Fit in the States), will be formally introduced at the Geneva Motor Show next March.

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