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  • What the Press said about the Meriva VXR

    www.autoexpress.co.uk
    Date: September 8th, 2004
    By: Chris Thorp
    Here's proof that Vauxhall is spreading the sporty VXR image throughout its line-up - even the Meriva supermini-MPV has been given a tune-up.
    The turbocharged Meriva VXR is pictured in this week's magazine being put through its paces at Germany's Nürburgring circuit. It'll go on sale in the UK in 2006.
    The prototype pictured in this week's mag is fitted with large-diameter alloy wheels and a sports exhaust, but insiders have suggested the final production version will wear far more striking bodywork. Expect wider wheelarches and low side skirts, plus an imposing roof spoiler - all of which will transform the Meriva's unassuming shape into something that will appeal to performance car fans.
    Powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the diminutive people carrier will produce more than 170bhp and provide pace to rival the quickest supermini-based hot hatches. At present, the most expensive Meriva is the 1.7-litre diesel Energy, at £14,950. The good news is that the VXR is tipped to cost only a bit more, at around £15,500.
    Despite early speculation, there are currently no plans for a similar performance variant of the current Corsa. With an all-new version of the popular supermini due in showrooms in 2006, it's too late in the product lifecycle of the existing car to justify the development costs of a range-topping VXR model.

  • #2
    Meriva A, 1.6iT, www.autoexpress.co.uk, 21/11/05

    www.autoexpress.co.uk
    Date: November 21st, 2005
    By: Chris Thorp
    It's the maddest Meriva ever! Blink and you'll miss it, but here's a first official look at Vauxhall's high-performance supermini-MPV, the car that breaks new ground for family-friendly firebreathers.
    Powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the new range-topper feeds a huge 178bhp through its front wheels. As a result, the boxy five-door launches from 0-60mph in eight seconds and goes on to a top speed of 140mph. To help cope with the extra power, the chassis has been extensively tuned on UK roads, while the steering has also been upgraded.
    Set apart by bold new bumpers, the range-topper wears its VXR badges with pride. The finishing touch is a set of striking 17-inch alloys. Inside, there are figure-hugging Recaro seats with blue upholstery to match the exterior paintwork. In the rear, the hot model retains the practicality of standard Mer-ivas thanks to Vauxhall's Flexspace seating layout. The VXR logo is seen on the gearlever, instruments and steering wheel, while standard kit is generous.
    Unveiled at this week's Essen Motor Show in Germany, the latest VXR will go on sale in February. Vauxhall hopes to sell 800 in a year, but prices will be steep. Costs are yet to be announced, although the model is tipped to be around £16,500, making it nearly £3,000 more expensive than Ford's Fiesta ST and only £995 cheaper than the Focus ST.
    Meanwhile, buyers will have to wait until the end of next year to drive a Corsa VXR, when the next-generation supermini's high-performance flagship will be launched. It will use the same engine as the Meriva VXR, but aims to match the dynamic abilities of hot hatch class-leaders thanks to its all-new chassis.

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    • #3
      Meriva VXR, 1.6iT (Z20LET), Pictures – Interior

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      • #4
        Meriva VXR, 1.6iT (Z20LET), Pictures – Static

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        • #5
          Meriva VXR, 1.6iT (Z16LET), Pictures – Action

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          • #6
            Meriva VXR, 1.6iT (Z16LET), Power Curve

            To convert kW to bhp, multiply by 1.341
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            • #7
              Meriva VXR, 1.6iT (Z16LET), Specification

              The Meriva has been given the VXR treatment and its guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of anyone who likes their cars fast, fun and more than a little cheeky.
              The high-performance version of the versatile five-seater made its debut at the Essen Motor Show in November 2005 and has just become available to order from your local Vauxhall retailer.
              STYLING, SPECIFICATION AND PERFORMANCE
              Under the bonnet is an all-new 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine which produces an impressive 180PS, making it easily the most powerful car in the class. Driving the front wheels through a six-speed close ratio gearbox, it’s enough to take the Meriva from 0-60 mph in a 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 137mph.
              Another highlight is the software controlled over-boost function of the turbo charger, which increases maximum torque by 15% to 260 Nm for around 5 seconds.
              To cope with the extra power, the chassis has been thoroughly reworked to give the driving dynamics expected of a car carrying the VXR badge. The exterior styling has been upgraded with front and rear bumpers which clearly link the newest VXR to the style started with the Meriva’s big brothers - the VXR Astra, Zafira and Vectra models. The Meriva’s 17-inch alloy wheels are in the now-familiar six-spoke VXR design too.
              Inside, the Meriva VXR retains all the practicality of the acclaimed FlexSpace seating system, but there is a twist which has never been seen before. Special Recaro seats hold the occupants, and VXR logos adorn the gearlever, instruments and steering wheel.
              FUEL CONSUMPTION
              mpg (litres/100km)
              Urban driving: 27.2 ( 10.4 )
              Extra-Urban driving: 44.8 ( 6.3 )
              Combined figure: 36.2 ( 7.8 )
              Based on the New Meriva, the VXR receives significant visual upgrades:
              Exterior
              > New front bumper assembly , deeper front lower splitter, front grille, additional egg crate grilling, body coloured V grille
              > Griffin remains in chrome
              > New rear bumper assembly
              > Chrome trapezoidal Exhaust
              > Large rear spoiler 17-inch VXR wheels,
              > New side skirts
              > New Arden Blue painted front and rear brake callipers.
              Interior
              > New instrument graphics with VXR logo , red highlights and start up needle sweep
              > New VXR 3 spoke performance steering wheel with VXR logo
              > New Recaro sports seats in part leather
              > New carbon effect inserts on doors and fascia
              > New gearknob with VXR logo.
              COLOURS AVAILABLE
              > Flame Red
              > Arden Blue
              > Star Silver
              > Black Sapphire
              PRICING AND INSURANCE
              Price: £13,397.45
              VAT: £2,344.55
              Total: £15,742
              Total OTR: £16,495
              CO2 Emissions: 187 g/km
              Insurance Group Rating: 12E
              OTHER INFORMATION
              > This model will also be included in the new Car and Accessory Price guide dated 24th January.
              > Order banks will be opened on 23rd January 2006.
              > Vehicles ordered in week commencing 23rd January 2006 will be delivered to Retailers week commencing 27th March 2006.

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              • #8
                Meriva A, 1.6iT, www.autoexpress.co.uk, 02/06

                www.autoexpress.co.uk
                Date: Febuary, 2006
                By: Piers Ward
                Who said that family cars can't be fast? Not Vauxhall, that's for sure. The Luton firm has added a 178bhp turbocharged engine and a VXR badge to its facelifted Meriva and created a supermini-MPV that's one of the most unlikely hot hatches of the year.
                Coming hot on the heels of VXR versions of the Monaro, Astra, Vectra and Zafira, the British firm is convinced there is a niche for a high-performance Meriva, and it hasn't gone about the conversion half-heartedly.
                As a result, the Meriva VXR gets a deeper front spoiler and body-coloured V-shaped grille, along with bigger 17-inch alloy wheels. The rear has also received some treatment, including a new spoiler and sporty exhaust, both of which are VXR trademarks. Inside, racy touches include a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearlever, part-leather Recaro seats and blue-lit dials.
                There have been minor trim modifications elsewhere as part of the facelift, but you will struggle to spot them. As such, it's still a neat, well designed cabin with logically placed switches, although it could do with more storage space up front.
                The clever rear seats remain unaltered, which can only be a good thing. Dubbed FlexSpace, the folding mechanism is good, but lacks the simplicity of the Honda Jazz's system. You have to lower the middle rear chair first, before working two levers to get the outer seats to fold flat. You can also slide them backwards to provide more legroom. The engine is all-new, though. The turbocharged unit is based on the 1.6-litre Twinport motor that debuts in the standard Meriva, but here it produces 178bhp and 230Nm of torque, which can be increased for short periods to 266Nm thanks to an overboost facility.
                This provides enough in-gear acceleration to ensure that overtaking is very easy. The motor is punchy and responsive at speed, but the revs need to be kept above 2,500rpm to get the turbo working properly.
                Fortunately, the boost comes in much more gradually than in other VXR models, so the Meriva doesn't suffer from as much torque steer as the Astra version, for example. This makes driving quickly easier, although not as much fun as its more powerful siblings.
                Unfortunately, the car we tried was fitted with winter tyres, so we'll have to reserve our final judgement on the handling for a later date. But our initial impressions are that the steering could do with more precision when turning in, and that it's lacking in feel.
                Body roll has been well contained though, and the ride seems reasonable, despite the fact the suspension has been lowered by 10mm at the front and 15mm at the rear. The springs have also been stiffened, while the VXR gets bigger ventilated brakes. These feel pretty good, but again the tyres skew a definitive judgement.
                The Vauxhall comes loaded with the usual standard equipment you would expect from a flagship model. Air-conditioning, ESP and a CD player are all included - but at a cost. The £16,495 asking price is a lot to pay for a small car. The Meriva VXR is certainly a niche product, but whether customers will be tempted to part with that sort of cash remains to be seen.
                First Opinion
                You can't argue with how quick the Meriva is. For such a practical car, the 178bhp comes as a pleasant surprise, but it doesn't feel too manic, unlike the Astra VXR. However, we do have some misgivings, chief of which is the price - it's simply too expensive. We've no doubt Vauxhall will sell enough to justify building it, but lower-spec Merivas are a better option.
                At a Glance
                * The Meriva VXR comes with a turbocharged version of Vauxhall's 1.6-litre Twinport engine. The normally aspirated powerplant is also now available in the facelifted Meriva line-up.
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                • #9
                  Meriva A, 1.6iT, www.4cars.co.uk, 14/02/06

                  www.4cars.co.uk
                  Date: 14 Febuary, 2006
                  By: Tom Bird
                  It should be a pig to drive...
                  This can't be right - a turbocharged compact MPV/hot-hatch that's actually a hoot to drive? I must be under the influence of something.
                  The mere idea of a Vauxhall Meriva fitted with a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine putting 177bhp through the front wheels is laughable. This thing should, by all rights, by an absolute pig to drive. Amazingly it's not.
                  Distinguished from the regular family-man Meriva by some big bumpers with chav-spec front fogs, chunky 17" alloys and a trapezoid exhaust pipe, the Meriva VXR looks a bit like a grown-up Citroen C2 VTS - which is actually the sort of thing that Vauxhall hope its buyers will trade in for their latest halo model. Yes, this is a family wagon for the boy racer who'll use the boot for buggies and such-like, rather than filling it with subwoofers and amps galore.
                  Recaros in an MPV
                  There's even a set of Recaros up front that'll keep you tucked into the part-leather trim, no matter what hooligan antics you try to pull off round a McDonalds car park. The kids strapped into the rear might not appreciate it too much after a Happy Meal, but at least they'll be kept quiet with the optional twin-audio system (basically a set of headphones for each kid, allowing them to listen to a CD while you listen to the radio) or roof-mounted DVD-player.
                  That 1.6-litre turbo will wrench the Meriva VXR to 60mph in just 7.9secs and on to a top speed of 137mph - better than the aforementioned C2. You have to wring the neck of the engine though, with the 177bhp only arriving at a heady 5,500rpm. Torque is a reasonable 170lb-ft at 2,200rpm - with an extra 15% available on overboost - ie, if you drop a cog on the six-speed box and boot the loud pedal you'll be able to overtake dawdling traffic before you can say 'fixed penalty notice'.
                  It's a good job the brakes are suitably beefed-up to match the peppy engine - 308mm ventilated discs sit behind the front wheels and the rear discs work well off the handbrake if you ever find yourself wanting to perform a quick 180 - not that we'd ever condone such behaviour...
                  Immensely chuckable
                  The VXR's suspension is 30% stiffer and lower than the cooking Meriva, which means that the rollercoaster ride is banished, leaving you to enjoy the drive without losing your lunch. It grips well too - even on the winter tyres we were forced to use in frozen Germany - although the steering could give a bit more indication as to what's going on under the front wheels.
                  There's very little torque steer to speak of and although the ESP can't be switched off, it stays quiet until the last possible moment.
                  It's immensely chuckable - disguising its 1,330Kg figure well - and, overall, it is a rather good drive: you never feel that you're in a top-heavy compact MPV, more a spacious family hatch.
                  Buck the trend
                  There's more headroom than you'll ever have cause to need - unless you have a penchant for top hats or Marge Simpson haircuts - and any mixture of five adults / teenagers / OAPs / children will be able to sit comfortably. If you've not got the need for the full complement of seats in the back, you can drop the centre rear seat out of the way and bring the two outer seats in to give more elbow room. This also allows you to push the rear seats back into the boot area between the suspension turrets - thereby stopping the annoying blighters, sorry, precious cargo, kicking the backs of the front seats at every opportunity.
                  The £16,495 price tag is pretty good too - you won't find a faster compact MPV for the money. However, as the Meriva VXR is a bit of an oddball in its own right, it's not really a frumpy-looking family wagon - more a slightly left-field alternative to a high-spec Focus, mid-spec Golf, or even an entry-level 1-Series.
                  It'll be a damn sight more exclusive: Vauxhall only hope to sell 400 a year. So why not buck the trend and choose something a bit different - who wants to be a sheep all their life?
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                  • #10
                    Meriva A, 1.6iT, Autocar, 21/02/06

                    Magazine: Autocar
                    Date: 21/02/06
                    By:
                    Found by VXRonline user: Catherine
                    States that the Meriva and Zafira VXR do not have a switch for the Traction Control because the company fears product liability claims.
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                    • #11
                      Meriva A, 1.6iT, www.independent.co.uk, 28/2/06

                      www.independent.co.uk
                      Date: 28 February 2006
                      By: John Simister
                      If you need an MPV you're well past wanting a hot hatch, so why has Vauxhall made a turbocharged people mover? John Simister was sceptical, but found the Meriva a riot
                      Specifications
                      Model: Vauxhall Meriva VXR
                      Price: £16,495, on sale now
                      Engine: 1,598cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, turbo-charger, 180bhp at 5,500rpm, 170lb ft (196lb ft on overboost) at 2,200-5,500rpm
                      Transmission: six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
                      Performance: 137mph, 0-60 in 7.9sec, 36.2mpg official average
                      CO2: 187g/km
                      Pointless, they said. "They" were fellow pundits, braving the horizontal rain and gales on the German island of Sylt, the unlikely venue for Vauxhall's launch of the Meriva VXR. Rain, the threat of snow and no bends. And the VXR was on squidgy, undersized winter tyres.
                      Pointless, on two counts. Firstly, there was no way of finding out whether the notion of a compact MPV with hot-hatch suspension and a hyperactive turbo engine works in a coherent fashion. And, secondly, why make an MPV pretend it's a hot hatchback, when you might just as well buy the hatchback? After all, say those pundits too young and unencumbered to know otherwise, if you need an MPV, you're well past wanting a hot hatch.
                      But age does not necessarily wither the desire for a thrilling drive in a small package. Hence the target market for the Meriva VXR: young families with parents who feel cheated by circumstance, who don't see why the thrill of driving and the transport of offspring have to be mutually exclusive.
                      The Vauxhall Meriva VXR has a 1.6-litre, 180bhp turbocharged engine, which will also hide beneath the bonnet of the forthcoming new Corsa's VXR version. It's the latest addition to the range of sporty VXR Vauxhalls, some of which are excellent (Vectra), some flawed (Zafira - we'll come back to that one, as it's also an MPV), and some exciting but wayward (Astra).
                      Unlike the others, however, this one has been engineered in Germany by the Opel Performance Centre (OPC). Indeed, in Opel-branded markets (all of Europe, apart from the UK), this is an Opel Meriva OPC.
                      And it's in that guise that I tried this car ahead of the launch a couple of months ago, at Opel's test track in Germany. And I've now been able to try a representative right-hand drive, Vauxhall VXR-badged version in the UK, and I'm glad I did, because it's all I hoped it would be.
                      If you were (unwisely) to be blindfolded before driving off, you would still know this is a VXR-flavoured Vauxhall. Two reasons: beneath the deep, but non-intrusive, burble emanating from the trapezoidal tailpipe is the aural signature of every small Vauxhall overhead-camshaft engine since the first Astra, and the accelerator response is just like that of the other VXRs. You press the pedal, nothing happens for a moment, then the engine finds its increased speed and then it lights up and zooms onwards, all without your altering the position of your right foot. It takes some getting used to, and until you do you'll be surging off on a surfeit of torque and slowing too abruptly if you lift the accelerator.
                      The technique, if you want to drive with the smoothness a passenger-load should demand, is to feed in the power gradually until you feel the boost start to build, then accelerate harder if you so desire. Alternatively, you can throw finesse out of the window and feel all that power pouring on to the road, making the Meriva perform a passable impression of a 1980s Renault 5 GT Turbo.
                      An eager engine, then, eager enough to pull the Meriva to 60mph in 7.9 seconds and on (in Germany, presumably) to a 137mph top speed. Now, though, comes the clever part. An Astra VXR tugs this way and that when you use its ample thrust on an uneven road, and can be a bombast of sensory overload. A Zafira VXR is tall, being a not-so-compact MPV, very firmly sprung to keep the body from leaning, and somehow manages to feel both stiff-legged and Astra-fractious. It's torture both for driver and passengers.
                      But the Meriva VXR is different. Yes, you can make its wheels spin in hooligan fashion on a damp road, but you can retain enough subtlety of control to rein in that behaviour. The ESP (electronic stability programme), which includes traction control, can't be switched off in this particular VXR, but it doesn't matter, because it allows plenty of freedom before smoothly and progressively intervening. The Meriva isn't looking for an excuse to flaunt its power all the time; unless provoked, it steers properly and does what it is told.
                      Better yet, it rides over bumps and broken surfaces with surprising civility, and keeps its body movements under sympathetic control. It's firm underfoot, but it smooths the worst of the sharp edges and doesn't purée your passengers. The right sort of firm ride isn't objectionable, and the Meriva has that ride, despite staying remarkably level in the corners.
                      In fact, despite its tall build, the Meriva VXR feels like a good hot hatchback to drive. Its steering has the positive response you get from a front suspension system that has had the regular Meriva's rubberiness removed, and changes to the rear suspension help the rear wheels point the nose more keenly into a corner to counteract the effects of the car's leaning.
                      Then there are the Recaro seats that grip you firmly, the smooth and precise six-speed gear-change, and the things that go with Merivadom rather than VXRdom. Top of the bill here is the FlexSpace rear-seat arrangement, which lets you seat three in a regular row or two with the outer rear seats slid further back and closer together. Result? Huge legroom and a useful storage space between the seats.
                      Fake carbon-fibre trim and VXR-badged dials help identify this interior as sportified, but the wiper and indicator stalks strike a cheap note, and it's annoying that you can't demist the windscreen and warm the cabin simultaneously. But these are not big issues.
                      A list price of £16,495 might seem like a bigger issue, but it's a matter of context. You'd pay more for a mid-size hot hatchback, including an Astra VXR, and you'd also pay more for other compact MPVs with turbo-charged engines. Yes, they would all be bigger engines and ostensibly bigger cars, but the snub-nose Meriva VXR is competitive on space and cabin pace. More so, its compact exterior adds to the driving fun because it makes for a very wieldy car.
                      Pointless? On the contrary, I found the juxtaposition of MPV looks and hot-hatchback dynamics riotously entertaining. It might be an unlikely idea, but it's a heck of a good one.
                      The rivals
                      MERCEDES-BENZ A200 TURBO 5DR, £21,295
                      Fast and beautifully designed, outside and in, but all that power (190bhp) is a touch too much for the suspension. Versatile, desirable but too expensive.
                      RENAULT SCENIC 2.0T DYNAMIQUE, £18,315
                      A gentler interpretation of turbo power, with 165bhp and an impressive level of refinement. It still looks intriguing enough, but the Scenic is no enthusiast's car.
                      SEAT ALTEA 2.0 FSI SPORT, £15,995
                      Seat's almost-MPV is scuppered by incomplete seat-folding ability, but looks cool and goes well with its 150bhp direct-injection engine. Meriva is more useful, more fun.
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