Small minivans are not the most successful of typical versatile European concepts. Except for the Opel and Vauxhall Meriva, the segment leader for years. So creating a successor is a great challenge, an obligation to the current model’s success. But during the last Geneva Motor Show General Motors Europe presented a concept that is more than a make-over of the running Meriva. While keeping up with the practicality of today’s Meriva, the concept adds functionality and fresh design beyond innovative rear-door flexibility.
Unlike the current Meriva, which was in part conceived in Brazil, the concept project is totally European. It still sits on a wheelbase of 264cm, 1cm longer than today’s Meriva, but it measures 422cm overall length instead of 405cm, with additional width of 176cm (+ 6.5cm) but slightly lower at 160cm (- 2.5cm). In particular the wider track front and rear of 156 and 158.4cm (+11cm resp. +12cm) enhance the Meriva concept’s more robust stance.
The design of the Meriva concept (built by G-Studio in Turin) was the work of Andrew Dyson and his team, chief designer advanced design of GM Europe, under the guidance of Anthony Lo. And the mission was clear: build on the success of functionality and versatility of the current model but add emotion. With a new GM Europe design language already defined and implemented on the new Insignia upper-medium model, Dyson was able to follow this strategy for the Meriva concept.
“The original Meriva was rational. Now we wanted a more sculptural body shape and slightly more space. But we had to be realistic and take into account new safety regulations. So limiting front overhang was a challenge, in particular the flow of the A-pillar forward, because we wanted to maintain the mono volume principles”, Dyson said.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 171