Jul 5, 2012
Rüsselsheim. Since its debut in 2010 the second generation Opel Meriva is the leader in its segment in Europe. In total more than 230,000 European customers opted for the second generation of the top selling vehicle. Appealing design, high quality and unique on-board flexibility and especially excellent ergonomics contribute to the Meriva success story. This is a key factor for a vehicle that is especially designed for young families with children and active “Best Agers” who are over 50 and still young at heart. The German healthy back experts (“Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V.”) awarded its prestigious AGR quality seal to the Meriva, making it the first and only production vehicle in the world with such a seal of approval for an entire ergonomic concept. This certification for ergonomics and back-friendly features comprises FlexSpace seating concept, the FlexDoors system, the optionally available ergonomic seating, the FlexRail center console and the optional FlexFix bicycle carrier that is fully integrated into the rear bumper and disappears like a drawer when not in use.
A key component of the officially recognized Meriva ergonomics concept is the revolutionary, patented FlexDoors system with its unique rear-hinged rear doors. For optimum access, FlexDoors can open up to 84 degrees – much wider than the usual 68 degrees of conventional doors. FlexDoors are particularly convenient for parents who will find it easy to install Isofix child seats on the outer rear seats and to buckle up their children. When the front and rear doors are open at the same time, a safety zone is also created.
Another advantage: The exclusive FlexDoors make it easy to enter and exit without twisting or sliding, even in tight spaces, and are therefore easy on the back. Sturdy grab handles right and left on the B-pillar that are intuitively used make it easier to move inside. Another positive factor is that the base of the rear seats is directly adjacent to the generous door openings. Thanks to the high roof passengers do not have to crouch while entering and exiting the vehicle.
However, the easy and comfortable access is not just confined to the rear of the Meriva cabin. Passengers also benefit from 84 degree opening angles and ergonomically well situated seat heights. The higher seating position enables better forward visibility. At the rear, small and large passengers not only benefit from the high seating position but also enjoy the wave-shaped quarter lights at the sides which increase the depth of the rear windows by five centimeters, adding extra visibility.
“Sliding doors, especially without B-pillars, are all well and good, especially at car shows. However, in everyday use they offer few benefits,” the Meriva chief engineer, Helmut Ruff, says. “During the development of the second generation Meriva we focused on finding the best-possible door system for this kind of vehicle. In this context, we worked closely with our ergonomics experts and carried out numerous surveys with potential customers. After considering all possible options, the FlexDoors system seemed to us to be the best and most ergonomic solution for the Meriva which is especially aimed at young families and Best Agers with active lifestyles.”
The Meriva chief engineer adds: “Of course sliding doors were on our list. However, this was an option we discounted in the end for the Meriva, as they would have brought extra weight to the vehicle, especially in the absence of a B-pillar. Also the use of heavy sliding doors would have moved the center of gravity higher and would thus have negatively affected its driving dynamics. In addition, questions must be asked about the durability of such a heavy door system. In the absence of B-pillars, we couldn’t have offered the grab handles. From a design point of view, the sliding doors would not have worked with the proportions of the Meriva and its short overhangs.”
Apart from the particularly comfortable and ergonomic entry and exit in the Meriva thanks to FlexDoors, the AGR healthy back experts are also convinced that the vehicle possesses other intelligent on-board features making it a perfect combination of ergonomics and flexibility. The intelligent FlexSpace seating concept is a part of these features, as well as the AGR certified ergonomic seats for the driver and front passenger, the FlexRail center console and the FlexFix bicycle carrier which is fully integrated in the rear bumper. No other competitor in the segment can offer this array of ergonomic and flexible features.
The FlexSpace system which is standard kit in the Meriva makes it possible to transform the interior quickly and smoothly from a five, into a four, three and two-seater. The seats do not need to be dismounted. Both of the outer rear seats can be moved by 190 millimetres longitudinally (140 millimetres to the front and 50 millimetres to the rear) as well as 50 millimetres to the side, providing more legroom at the rear. Fewer, more intuitive motions are now necessary to move the rear seats and change configurations.
In addition, optional fully adjustable ergonomic seats certified by AGR and featuring additional tilting, extra lumbar support and thigh extension and four-way adjustable head-rests are also available. No other manufacturer offers this amount of seat settings in this vehicle segment.
The multi-functional FlexRail console system consisting of exchangeable storage units that slide on aluminum rails located between the front seats also enhances the ergonomics of the new Meriva and provides a slide-able comfort armrest. The FlexRail system was made possible because of the high mounted gear shift lever and the electric parking brake that is standard. On the other hand, they also increase the level of comfort. All in all, the Meriva offers more than 30 storage possibilities, from the door pockets at the front to a drawer under the front passenger seat. The Meriva trunk has plenty of space – depending on the seat configuration it provides a volume of between 400 and up to a maximum of 1,500 liters.
Moreover, the Meriva excels with another clever transport solution: cyclists appreciate the Opel patented FlexFix system that has been given the back-friendly AGR seal of approval. The FlexFix system extends the onboard Meriva flexibility to the exterior. The bicycle carrier system that can carry up to two bikes is fully integrated in the Meriva and always onboard. When not in use it disappears invisibly into the rear bumper. Another big plus point of the Opel FlexFix system is its outstanding ergonomics: in contrast to other systems such as roof racks where you have to lift the bicycle high over your head, the FlexFix carrier is located close to the ground making the awkward act of lifting unnecessary. Another advantage: FlexFix saves space in the garage and is a personal fitness motivator that is always on board and it encourages the owner to go on a quick bike ride which is good for the health.