Twin Cam
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Road test report -- February 2011 -- by Kevin Fenix.

Opel Meriva 1.4 Turbo

My test car was to SE trim specification, which includes a panoramic glass roof, front fog lamps, electric windows, heated, electrically adjustable, exterior rear view mirrors, a leather covered, reach and height adjustable steering wheel and remote controlled central locking amongst a long list of standard equipment. It also had a number of optional extras fitted, things like front and rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, sports design front seats, dual zone climate control and 18” diameter alloy wheels.

Power was provided by a 1.4 litre, turbocharged, intercooled, direct injection, petrol engine, with variable valve timing, driving the front wheels through a five speed manual gearbox. The engine delivered an impressive 88 kW between 4,800 and 6,000 rpm, with 175 Nm torque between 1,750 and 4,800 rpm. This gives a specific output of 64.516 kW/lt, which is pretty impressive, for what is a very practical, family car. Unfortunately this level of performance does result in exhaust emissions of 143 gm/km, putting this particular specification into Irish road tax band C, with an annual demand, at present rates, of 302 euro.
Top speed is 188 kph (117 mph) with 0-100 kph acceleration in 11.5 seconds. Urban cycle fuel consumption is 35 mpg (8.0 lt/100 km), with the extra urban cycle recorded as 56 mpg (5.0 lt/100 km). In my first few days with the car, the fuel gauge seemed to move from full towards empty at an alarming rate, which I put down to the fact that it was petrol, rather than diesel powered. However, once it reached the half way mark, it seemed to slow down a lot, which was very satisfying. The combined cycle average is quoted as 46 mpg (6.1 lt/100 km), which is not bad for a 1.4 litre petrol engine, driving a spacious and comfortable, upper medium size family car. All my driving was done in an urban and suburban environment and included short as well as longer trips. I estimated, based on the trip recorder and the fuel gauge, that I was averaging about 8.9 lt/100 km (31 mpg), which was not too far off the official urban cycle figures.
Steering was by a speed sensitive, electric power assisted system, with 2.5 turns from lock to lock. It always felt light yet positive, which greatly contributes to the overall driving pleasure. The gearchange was likewise smooth and positive. The car would dawdle along in second, third or fourth gear as the traffic conditions dictated, but if you did need a burst of acceleration to pass a slow moving obstruction, you did need to shift down, as invariably dawdling along your engine speed was below the 1,750 rpm, where maximum torque is delivered.
While the suspension is based on comparatively simple designs, it did give a good comfortable ride over most surfaces. Nothing, however, can offset the shock of hitting one of the innumerable craters that now infest our pathetically unmaintained road surfaces. The suspension also provides good positive roadholding on twisty sections of our roads. Overall the Meriva is a pleasant and satisfying car to drive. Its charm just grew on me as the days rolled by, so I was quite upset when I had to hand it back at the end of the test period. The anti-lock braking system used ventilated discs at the front and plain discs at the rear and worked in conjunction with the electronic stability programme. It too contributed to the overall relaxed driving pleasure.

The hooded binnacle behind the steering wheel contains four, round, analogue instruments, with black backgrounds, white lettering and red needles. Reading from the left they are, tachometer, engine temperature, fuel level and speedometer. Between the two larger dials and under the two smaller ones, there is a digital information panel, that can provide a variety of programmed information. The right hand arm of the steering wheel has additional controls for the audio system and the hands free telephone facilities, while the left hand arm had switches for the cruise control. In the top centre of the dashboard, there is a digital screen that provides, the time, date, outside air temperature, as well as audio related information and the satellite navigation when switched on. Below the two centre air vents there are three button type switches controlling the central locking/unlocking, hazard flashers and to activate/deactivate the front passenger airbag.
The large panel at the top of the centre console has a variety of controls for the audio related system, satellite navigation, electronic stability programme, mobile telephone etc. A smaller panel below this has all the controls for dual zone climate control, including the heated front seats, air distribution, temperature selection and demisting of the windscreen and rear window etc.

An interesting feature is the sliding armrest on top of the centre tunnel. In its forward position it provides a comfortable armrest for either driver or front passenger. When the hinged padded top is opened there is a useful storage space below. When slid backwards on its mounting rails, it reveals a further open storage space, with a circular base for a cupholder.
Both front seats are adjustable for reach and backrest angle. In addition the driver’s seat adjusts for height as well. The rear seats are divided 40/20/40. In other words the two outer seats are of a similar size and comfort to the front pair, while the centre section is much narrower and less well padded. Its backrest can be folded flat onto the seat cushion allowing longer items of luggage like fishing rods, skis, or similar items to be carried as well as two full size passengers. If additional carrying space is needed the backrests of the two outer rear seats can be folded individually onto their respective seat cushions.

Access to the rear seating space is made a lot easier by the way the rear doors open. In the past this design was called “suicide doors”, but modern electronics has allowed a system to be used that centrally locks the doors once the car starts moving at speeds above 4 kph (2.5 mph), thus preventing possible accidents with the rear doors being opened whilst on the move. Parents having to reach in to put children into their safety seats, or remove them from the safety seats, will find it so much easier with the way the doors open. It also makes getting in or out a whole lot easier for old people, or those with disabilities.
A family car needs flexibility, allowing it to carry passengers or other loads from time to time, or a combination of both. The Meriva has 0.397 cubic metres of luggage space between the floor and the underside of the rear shelf, when all five seats are in use. At the other end of the scale, with only two seats in use and loading to the roof it has 1.496 cubic metres of space available. When fitted with the 88 kW 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine, it can tow braked trailers/caravans of up to 1050 kg in weight, or unbraked trailers of up to 680 kg. It also has the ability to carry up to 60 kg in a suitable container on the roof. The version tested came without a spare wheel, which limits your mobility in the event of a puncture and certainly rules out towing. Instead they give you a kit consisting of a plug-in electric air compressor and latex. There is, however, additional storage space under the luggage floor and this is shaped to accept a Spacesaver spare wheel, if you prefer to have a wheel rather than just a repair kit. Personally I would prefer the Spacesaver any day to the repair kit, even when it is not really suitable for towing. The repair kit cannot, after all, fix a blow-out, but the Spacesaver can at least allow you to continue your journey, albeit at a greatly reduced pace.

Above left : normal luggage space ---------------- Above right : maximum luggage space
Below left : Puncture repair kit ------ Below right : additional underfloor storage space

Technical data

Overall length ------------------ 4288 mm
Overall width ------------------- 1812 mm (excl. mirrors) ------------- 1994 mm (incl. mirrors)
Overall height ------------------ 1615 mm
Wheelbase ----------------------- 2644 mm
Front track ---------------------- 1488 mm
Rear track ----------------------- 1509 mm
Turning circle ------------------ 11.19 M (kerbs)
Unladen weight ---------------- 1469 kg
Gross vehicle weight ---------- 1935 kg
Max. towing weight ------------ 1050 kg (braked) ---------------------- 680 kg (unbraked)
Max. roof load ----------------- 60 kg
Power/weight ratio ------------ 21.988 kg/kW
Luggage capacity --------------- 0.397 cu.M (5 seats) ------------------ 1.496 cu.M (2 seats loading to roof)
Tank capacity ------------------ 54 lts.

Type ------------------------------ 4 cyl. DOHC 16v, variable valve timing, turbo, intercooled, petrol
Capacity ------------------------- 1364 cc
Compression ratio ------------- 9.5 : 1
Max. injection pressure ------ 250 - 400 bar
Max. boost pressure ---------- Not available
Bore x stroke ------------------- 73.4 mm x 80.6 mm
Power ---------------------------- 88 kW @ 4,800 - 6,000 rpm --------- Specific output -------- 64.516 kW/lt
Torque --------------------------- 175 Nm @ 1,750 - 4,800 rpm -------- Specific torque ------ 129.299 Nm/lt
CO2 emissions ------------------ 143 gm/km ----------------------------- Specific CO2 ---- 104.838 gm/km/lt
Type ------------------------------ 5 speed manual
Ratios ---------------------------- Gearbox -------------------------------- Overall
1st -------------------------------- 3.73 : 1 ---------------------------------- 14.696 : 1
2nd ------------------------------- 1.96 : 1 ------------------------------------ 7.722 : 1
3rd ------------------------------- 1.32 : 1 ------------------------------------ 5.200 : 1
4th -------------------------------- 0.95 : 1 ------------------------------------ 3.743 : 1
5th -------------------------------- 0.76 : 1 ------------------------------------ 2.994 : 1
Reverse -------------------------- 3.31 : 1 ---------------------------------- 13.041 : 1
Final drive ----------------------- 3.94 : 1 -----------------------------------***********
Front ----------------------------- MacPherson strut, trailing L-shaped lower transverse arm, 24 mm anti-roll bar
Rear ------------------------------ C-shaped torsion beam, coil springs, telescopic dampers
Type ------------------------------ Speed sensitive, electric, power assisted, rack and pinion
Turns lock to lock ------------- 2.5
Wheel diameter ---------------- 370 mm
Type ------------------------------ Servo assisted dual circuit, with anti-lock and an electronic stability programme
Front ----------------------------- Ventilated disc ------------------------- 280 mm x 25 mm
Rear ------------------------------ Disc --------------------------------------- 264 mm x 10 mm
Type ------------------------------ 10 spoke, cast alloy, 5 stud
Size ------------------------------- 7.5J x 18 H2
Spare ----------------------------- None
Type ------------------------------ Continental Conti Sport Contact 3
Size ------------------------------- 225/40 R 18 ---- 92W
Spare ----------------------------- None -------------------------------------- Puncture repair kit
Top speed ----------------------- 188 kph ---------------------------------- 117 mph
0-100 kph ----------------------- 11.5 secs.
Fuel consumption
Urban ---------------------------- 35 mpg ----------------------------------- 8.0 lt/100 km
Extra urban --------------------- 56 mpg ----------------------------------- 5.0 lt/100 km
Combined ----------------------- 46 mpg ----------------------------------- 6.1 lt/100 km
Coverage ------------------------ 2 years unlimited, 1 year assistance, 12 years perforation
Service interval ---------------- 30,000 km (18,000 miles)/1 year


Recommended retail price (excluding delivery and associated charges)
Opel Meriva 1.4 Turbo SE ------------------------------------------- Euro 23,695
Plus optional extras fitted ;
Front and rear parking sensors ---------------------409
CD 500 Sat/Nav -------------------------------------- 1321
Metallic paint ------------------------------------------ 523
Premium lighting pack -------------------------------- 411
Leather sports style seats --------------------------- 1539
Dual zone climate control --------------------------- 458
18” alloy wheels --------------------------------------- 559
Tyre pressure monitor ------------------------------- 232 --------------------------5,452
Total price as tested
------------------------------------------------- Euro 29,147


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