New Opel Meriva: Designed For Elegance And Functionality
As a product of Opel’s latest design language the Meriva shares a number of its design elements with the Opel Astra and all new Astra GTC, particularly the blade motif in the body sides. A distinctive wave introduced to the belt-line adds a unique visual character to the Meriva while at the same time improving visibility and imparting a sense of space. The Meriva has its own defined personality but remains clearly a member of the family of latest generation Opels.
The profile of the new Meriva is distinguished by the distinctive wave belt-line, a feature that provides a hint to the practicality of the rear FlexDoors. A low rear window line provides for excellent visibility, especially for rear seat occupants, very often likely to be children.
The blade motif formed into the body sides provides the most prominent visual cue to the Opel design language of “sculptural artistry meets German precision”, conveying a sense of precise movement and grace. A further distinguishing feature is the centralised location of the door handles for both front and rear doors, made possible by the rearward opening action of the Flexdoors.
Viewed from the front the Meriva has an unmistakeable bold Opel identity. The distinctive grille with its prominent Opel badge, is flanked by large “eagle eye” headlamps.
The rear view is characterised by the tailored glass and gloss black cover. The eye is led down from the roof-line through to the integrated licence plate mount. A chrome appliqué that incorporates a touchpad to open the tailgate aligns with the crystal window of the reverse lamp in the rear light cluster.
Warm and welcoming cabin space
As with the exterior design, the interior of the new Opel Meriva has an expressive and emotional design. Working closely with the engineering team, the interior designers and stylists have used a low and forward mounted instrument panel to enhance the feeling of spaciousness. The sweeping lines of the wing shaped facia extend into the front doors to create a wraparound effect for front seat occupants, another distinctive Opel styling cue.
Visibility for the driver is excellent courtesy of the narrow shape and placement of the A pillars and the incorporation of large quarter lights.
The centre stack that houses infotainment and ventilation controls is ergonomically designed to provide an excellent view of displays and ease of access to the various controls. Major information displays are positioned close to the driver’s natural line of sight.
The choice of interior materials and the fit of interior panels is typical of vehicles in a class above the Meriva and provide a sense of quality. Carefully selected finishes for air vents, gearshift and the centre stack controls add to the feel of overall quality.
Flexdoors provide ease of access
The Meriva’s flexibility is all about using and accessing space efficiently. The innovative FlexDoor system employed on the Meriva – the first application of this type of rearward opening door by a volume manufacturer in many years – leverages the full potential of this configuration.
Key benefits include ease of entry and exit – even in tight spaces – and enhanced ergonomics with ease of access to the rear seats, (especially when fitting child seats for instance) an important aspect of a vehicle like the Meriva where the rear seats are likely to be used frequently.
Getting in and out of the Meriva is a straightforward operation. No more twisting or sliding across the seat, adults and children alike simply step straight into the rear space of the Meriva when getting in or out of the vehicle in a natural movement. The FlexDoors layout also provides excellent access when loading the vehicle.
The rear-hinged doors are full-sized and open independently from the front doors. The rear doors can open up to a maximum of 84 degrees – much wider than the average 67 degrees on conventional door systems. Intermediate light resistance points are provided to allow for four distinct angles of opening. A sturdy, intuitively placed grab handle on the inside of the B pillar supports entry and exit movement. Two “puddle lights” illuminate the area of ground in front of the doors when they area opened.
The specific architecture of the Meriva makes the application of the FlexDoors system possible. Key to this are the placement and structure of the B and C pillars as well as the long wheelbase, high belt-line, and high roof design.
To ensure the optimised safe operation of the Flexdoors system Opel engineers have developed a new automatic door locking system especially for the Meriva. A team of engineers spent a full 2 500 hours solely on defining the operating logic of this system that protects occupants in all reasonable situations and alerts the driver in the event of an anomaly.
All doors are electronically closed and locked at speeds of over four kilometres per hour. They unlock when the vehicle is stationary, or in the event of a crash when in-car restraint systems are deployed. Under four Kilometres per hour a green LED next to the door handle on the inside is illuminated to signal that the door can be opened.
The driver is alerted in the event of a system failure. A visual display and a warning chime are activated if a door is not properly closed or if there is a component or wiring failure.
Innovative interior functions and features
FlexSpace. The innovative adaptable seating system that is at the core of the Meriva’s on-board versatility. FlexSpace allows the Meriva to be quickly and easily transformed to a five, four, three, or two seat configuration depending on the needs of the moment. This is achieved without the need to remove any of the seats. The outer seats at the rear, fitted with tilt-adjustable backs, can slide through 190 mm longitudinally (140mm forwards and 50mm backwards), and 50mm laterally. The various configurations are achieved by simply folding the individual seats out of the way.
Electric Parking Brake. The use of an Electric Parking Brake (EPB) provides a significant space saving opportunity. Instead of a conventional lever operated parking brake that intrudes into the interior space, the EPB requires only a pushbutton located adjacent to the gear lever. A simple press of the button activates an electronic signal to activate the rear brake callipers. The EPD is automatically disengaged when the driver pulls off from rest.
FlexRail. The implementation of the Electronic Park Brake system frees up space between the front seats and allows the placement of the ingenious Flexrail centre console system.
Extensive occupant protection. The cabin of the Meriva is as safe as it is comfortable. An extensive range of occupant protection and restraint systems, together with the advanced structural design, provide for the highest level of occupant protection. Standard features include: three point seatbelts for all seats; front airbags (with de-activation for passenger side); dual front seatbelt pre-tensioners; Opel’s patented pedal release system (breaks away in the event of a frontal impact to protect the drivers lower leg area); an energy absorbing steering system; ISOFIX child seat mountings; seat-mounted dual chamber thorax/pelvis side airbags; and full-length side curtain airbags.
Whenever the airbags of seatbelt pre-tensioners are deployed a series of additional safety features are activated. The hazard warning lights are switched on; all the doors are unlocked; the interior lights are switched on; and the heating and ventilation system fan and the fuel pump are switched off.
In the event of any severe braking that activates the ABS system at a speed in excess of 30 km/h the brake lights pulse at a frequency of five pulses per second to war following drivers of a potential emergency situation.