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Vauxhall Meriva VXR

Mini-MPV is latest unlikely candidate for VXR treatment

Evo rating
Price
from £16,495
  • Fun in its own way
  • £16.5K for a Meriva?

The Zafira VXR, a sort of Astra VXR on stilts, we don't rate. Too firm, too turbulent, too hyperactive on the throttle, too wooden on the steering. Now Vauxhall/Opel brings us the Meriva VXR, a hyper version of the just-facelifted smaller MPV with its FlexSpace rear seats (room for three with adequate legroom, or for two with limo legroom). This time the engine is a turbo version of the GM 1.6, the blower raising power from 104bhp to 178. And this time the VXR makeover is an in-house Opel Performance Centre job with no Lotus involvement. The VXR visuals are the usual valances, sills and big wheels (17in with 205/45 tyres here), plus a trapezoidal tailpipe and Recaro seats. The spring rates rise by 30 per cent at the front, 25 per cent at the rear, and to control roll from the back the torsion beam is 30 per cent more twist-resistant. At the front the lower wishbones have stiffer rear bushes to locate the wheels more positively. The dampers have been recalibrated to suit. The result is a much more convincing effort than the Zafira. Your first exploratory dab of the throttle triggers a typically-VXR pause-and-kapow! response, which calls for care on damp roads to avoid comical wheelspin, but there's much less torque-steer and a much calmer ride. The steering feels more credible, too. Depress the accelerator rapidly and you'll trigger up to five seconds of overboost, raising torque from 170lb ft to 196. This makes the Meriva an amusingly rapid MPV, but the engine does its best work at high revs, where refinement deserts it. It feels much crisper on the track, though, as, indeed, befits an MPV developed at the N

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1598cc, 16v, turbo
Max power178bhp @ 5500rpm
Max torque170lb ft @ 2200-5500rpm
0-607.9sec (claimed)
Top speed137mph (claimed)
On saleNow
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