Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

One engine features in the Meriva VXR and it's a 1.6-litre engine fitted with a turbocharged to produce an impressive 178bhp. 0-60mph comes up in 7.9 seconds but economy isn't great with an average of 36mpg. However, the Meriva VXR has a neat feature, which Vauxhall calls overboost. When needed, the engine can produce an extra surge of pulling power for up to five seconds, which is very handy for overtaking.

The gearbox is a six-speed manual, but the engine’s strength and flexibility mean that once on the move you don’t need to change gear much.

The standard Meriva isn't great when it comes to keen handling but the VXR version does a good job of changing this. Body roll is well controlled in corners, helped by lower and stiffer suspension while the uprated brakes improve stopping power considerably. It also does a good job of putting its considerable power to the road without feeling unruly, unless encountering bumpy tarmac.

An electronic stability control system prevents wheelspin and makes it more manageable to drive. The main let down is the steering which feels over-assisted and lacks feel. However, considering its sporting pretensions, the ride is forgiving and comfortably smooth.