Opel is getting into a new era era of engine sophistication, at last. Engines were probably for many years the achilles heel of the otherwise so attractive and pleasant cars. "Wir leben Autos", is what Opel says, and with a totally new generation of engines being launched in the next few years, this slogan might now have its full meaning. Because the living heart of any car is its engine, and we have to admit, with this new generation 1,6 litre CDTI diesel, Opel is (again) setting the pace...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Opel engine development engineer Christian Müller admitted to the motoring press gathered at the Dudenhofen test centre when the presented in the spring of 2013 the new engine generation, that Opel was finally answering their calls for newer engines. The development of a new generation of MDE diesel engines was especially urgent, as the presently used units are still stemming from the cooperation with Fiat, which has ended already in ...2005!
The new engine incorporates state of the art features, like an all aluminium engine block, and this enables the engine to reach a power to weight ratio of 1,4 kg/Kw. Common Rail direct injection is also used of course.
A variable turbine geometry turbocharger allows impressive torque delivery of some 320 Nm at 2000 rpm. Indeed, the Meriva develops plenty of pulling power, and it really delivers very good in-gear accelerations. One special item is also the cylinder combustion pressure sensor built in the glow plug, which steers injection fuel volume. The new engine will make up to 10 partial injections in order to achieve optimal combustion with an ideal and "soft" build up of the flame front.
You already know what this means: very smooth running, with no typical diesel engine clatter at all, except for the first second when the engine starts up, and this smoothness sets in even when the engine is cold.
If it weren't for the massive torque, one clearly has the impression that a petrol engine is doing its work under the bonnet. Of course, a modern diesel unit also brings smiling faces at the pump: our average consumption including a trip to Paris was some 4,3 (!)litres, and this was in normal driving conditions, respecting the speed limits but certainly not driving slowly.
Emissions are of course also quite good with 116 g/km of CO2.
Performance of the Meriva with the 136 HP engine is quite lively indeed. Acceleration from 0 to 100 is absolved in 9,9 seconds, and the top speed is not less than 197 km/h. Remember, these are performance figures similar to the original Porsche 911… just to put everything in perspective!
Quality with style
The Meriva is very stylish fore and aft, and also sideways the lines are very fluent, and the car looks quite pleasing from any angle. But style is not enough here. Quality also abounds, and the finish and the aspect and feel of the used materials is also of a very high standard. The Meriva of the former generation also came out trumps in the ranking of the German technical inspection, (TÜV), where the Meriva was found to be the most reliable car in 2014, and received the TÜV Golden Award.
Roomy and practical
What surprised us was the feeling of roominess in this compact monocab, and the very high level of overall creature comfort. Seating position is just right, the front seats are truly excellent, with even adjustable leg support available on the ergonomic sport seats which were fitted to our test car. Also the back support is exemplary.
The ergonomic front seats in the optional sports version have adjustable thigh supports...
The position behind the wheel is excellent, handles and knobs are within easy reach. Our test car came with the crisp and clearly readable 7 inch colour screen, and the CD Radio 950, with indeed, a “classic” CD player, just so we could enjoy our jazz CD’s.
But this is not all. There I the so-called “Intellilink” module, with USB connection, and Bluetooth, allowing you audio streaming for example. We listened to the podcast of the finale performance of Queen Elisabeth Competition winner, the Korean soprano Hwang Sumi, with her very moving “Signore Ascolta” from Giacomo Puccini and Gustave Charpentier’s “Depuis le jour”, and “Im Abendrot” of Richard Strauss, which she sang on May 30 last.
It all was handled very nicely by speakers and amplifier…and how we enjoyed it all again!
Life is not only pleasant, also practical. The rear seats fold back in seconds, with just a slight pull on the dedicated ropes, and you have instantly a good 1500 litres of load carrying space at your disposal. This certainly also came in very handy during our test!
Pleasant and crisp handling
We also liked very much the good visibility, the sensitive steering and the crisp, precise handling of the Meriva, and its excellent driveability. Autobahn cruising is also superb, with a smooth and progressive cruise control, which however needs distinct pedal braking pressure to shut off, so if one wants a progressive and smooth disconnection, one is better advised to shut the function off on the steering wheel, rather than just touching the brake pedal.
The gearbox is also precise, smooth and crisp, and let it be said that here we also find a new generation of manual gearboxes, with more to come in terms of (dual clutch) automatics.
The Meriva already scored quite high in comfort, roominess, practicality, finish. In all these areas, the latest generation of this car will remain a winner. Now it also comes with a modern heart, which gives it whispering sweet wings, makes it fast, smooth and frugal. When considering a compact monocab, be certain to have a test drive in this new Meriva. It might let you shout of joy, despite its whispering diesel…
Hans Knol ten Bensel