Built on GM’s Gamma 2 platform, the Opel Meriva is the king of flexibility. And it has the monikers to match. Opel lists among its advertised features FlexDoors, FlexSpace, FlexRail, and FlexFix.
The most striking difference between this car and its competitors is its rear-hinged rear suicide doors. In response to accessibility questions of yesteryear, Opel emphasizes that the Meriva’s doors open nearly 90 degrees. The design also facilitates helping young children fasten seat belts as parents can stand where a traditional door would be hinged. Finally, the doors allow parents and children to get out together, without a door separating them: “children are kept under control.” (Either German children are particularly unruly, or German people are more comfortable discussing disobedient children; researching which is the case has been deemed a low priority by GMA management).
But the real flexibility is inside the Meriva. The driver and front passenger will notice that the center console appears to be mounted on rails. Indeed, the FlexRail system allows the center console to slide forward and backward. Interchangeable bins and armrests makes the storage even more flexible.
Termed “FlexSpace,” the rear bench is split into three sections, each of which can move fore and aft independently. Any or all can also be folded flat. Obviously all three folded flat maximizes cargo capacity, but by folding just the middle seat flat, two rear passengers can stretch out with room to spare. Press photos suggest that the armrest from the modular FlexRail system can also be mounted on top of the folded center rear seat, allowing parents to achieve even more separation between rear seat passengers (read: German children). Opel claims that improved engineering allows owners to accomplish such storage rearrangement feats with just one hand.
Perhaps the coolest storage feature is Opel’s Flex Fix integrated bike rack. When the drawer mounted in the rear bumper is slid out, the resulting platform can hold two bikes securely, and provides a third license plate holder anticipating that bicycles may obstruct the main rear plate on the hatch. When not in use, the drawer seamlessly integrates into the rear bumper.
The Meriva is rumored to be the first Opel (and Vauxhall) to sport an engine Stop/Start system that will improve fuel efficiency and decrease CO2 emissions. It’s expected to be available with a plethora of diesel and gas engines that will undoubtedly be turbocharged, ranging from 1.3 to 1.8 liters.
Honda is going to have to step up its game if it wants its Fit (Jazz in other markets) to remain competitive. There’s no word whether GM is planning on bringing the Meriva to the U.S., but our own Alex Luft thinks it would succeed in redefining the compact MPV segment. And the GMC Granite Concept better watch its back!