Opel Meriva: A Saturn in the Offing?

March 6, 2008
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“Suicide is painless,” goes the theme song from “Mash.” But don’t use that word around General Motors Chairman Rick Wagoner. “We’d rather you don’t use that word,” he explained, during a conversation at the Geneva Motor Show, following the debut of GM subsidiary Opel’s new Metiva Concept.

Why so squeamish? Well, you might understand why an automaker like Opel would rather not use the term, ‘suicide doors,” but would rather call the onospace” Meriva’s rear-hinged portals “FlexDoors.” It just seems like a much friendlier way to connect with potential customers.

Well, whatever you call them, Meriva’s got some interesting ideas to offer up, and we expect to see a number of them showing up on the production version, which is soon to replace the existing Meriva model in GM’s European line-up.

“The Meriva Concept clearly illustrates how our new Opel design language can be adapted to create bold, fresh design solutions for the monocab segment,” explains Mark Adams, Vice President of Design, General Motors Europe.

Opening a full 90 degrees, the unusual door design is meant to enhance Meriva’s functionality – without borrowing the sort of sliding doors that hallmark a minivan. Opel officials insist the rear-hinged design makes it easier to control access to the back seat, handy when you’re hauling around a car full of kids.

The suicide, er, FlexDoors are just one of the more notable features of the Meriva Concept. One of the other distinctive styling cues is the ‘wave’ in the rear window line, intented to provide a better view for the passengers in the back. It isn’t an entirely new concept, however, first appearing – in admittedly more extreme form on the quirly Citroën C2.

While both the wave window and FlexDoors seem bound for production, the unusual, U-shaped windshield, which stretches up and back over the rear passengers, is less likely to make it onto the assembly line.

Meanwhile, Meriva gives a good hint at how Opel is shaping a consistent look for its line-up, with its rear lights echoing the design of those on the upcoming Insignia, which will become Opel’s new upper midsize model, after its Summer 2008 debut.

The Meriva Concept is powered by a new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with Variable Valve Timing.

While a number of new Opel designs are destined to be shared with GM’s U.S. brand, Saturn, insiders say Meriva is likely not to make the trans-Atlantic leap. --By TCC Team and Henny Hemmes

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