It's always cool when a car manufacturer hits its stride and launches on to a successive run of interesting and competitive cars.
These fortunes wax and wane with time, but Vauxhall is one manufacturer that's consistently turning out some good stuff right now and that run of form includes the launch in 2010 of the second generation Meriva.
The first Meriva was clever, but was massively overshadowed by the Zafira. This time round the Meriva grew up. Here's what to look for when buying used. The original Meriva had a strong reputation for reliability, being recognised by German breakdown firm ADAC as the most reliable small MPV, having 'substantially fewer breakdowns than the average' in Germany.
The second generation Meriva B builds on that with even better quality interiors and tried and tested mechanicals. The engines are all very tough and the load area is also hardwearing. Make sure the electronics work as they should and that the air conditioning systems blow cold. Also check that the vehicle has been serviced on the button. There's only one engine in the Meriva range that doesn't have a turbocharger, Vauxhall having bought into the ability of modern turbos to extract lively performance from small capacity engines without major efficiency losses. The powerplant that goes without is the 99bhp 1.4 16v petrol unit, but that same engine can be ordered in turbocharged guises packing 118bhp or a hefty 138bhp.
The diesels are the 1.3 and 1.7-litre CDTi common-rail turbo units that have served Vauxhall so well over recent years. The 1.3 CDTi comes in 74bhp or 94bhp versions with the latter getting ecoFLEX branding and various efficiency modifications. The most powerful 1.7-litre engine develops 128bhp and, like the 138bhp petrol unit, it gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A six-speed auto is also available on this range-topping diesel though and that gearbox is standard in the 98bhp version of that 1.7-litre powerplant.
The Meriva's steering is on the weighty side for a supermini MPV which is appreciated on the open road but less beneficial when performing low speed manoeuvres. The car generally feels very substantial and reassuring to drive with plenty of grip and safe, predictable handling.
It isn't the most enjoyable supermini MPV to drive but it's comfortable and relaxing which might well count for more with buyers in this sector. The Vauxhall Meriva certainly matured in second generation form. It's one of the biggest models in its class.