New Opel Meriva Impressive Looks Matched By Dynamic Driving Experience
- Wide track and latest technology suspension provide excellent driving dynamics
- Electro-hydraulic power steering provides positive feel and precision in steering
- Large brakes and sophisticated ESC functions provide enhanced active safety
The new Opel Meriva is both longer and wider than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been extended by 15mm while the front and rear tracks are increased by 39mm and 45mm respectively. This increased footprint provides for excellent stability and improved roadholding. Both the front and rear axles are derived from the Zafira which brings the new small MPV from Opel closer to the standards of the class above.
The core body structure of this new model has 7,6% more torsional stiffness than the previous model. This provides a solid and stable platform to mount the improved suspension on. The increased strength and latest design techniques also assist in attenuating noise and vibration within the passenger area.
The engineering team for the new Meriva has completely redesigned the suspension and steering for this latest model. Every component, down to the last nut and bolt has been revised in the quest for optimised dynamic performance and ride refinement to match the visual appeal of the vehicle.
On the front McPherson strut suspension the paths of the spring and damper have been separated and individually optimised for improved steering response and ride comfort. The springs are also designed to resist side loadings resulting in reduced friction in the movement of the damper.
The lower control arms are attached to a hydro-formed hollow section sub-frame which is mounted to the body via rubber bushes to assist in isolating the cabin interior from road noise and vibration. The control arms are fitted with hydraulic bushes to help reduce vibration through the steering.
At the rear a space-saving torsion axle is retained. The thickness of the beam is increased by 0,6mm the in keeping with the needs of the revised suspension geometry.
New Electro-hydraulic power steering system for improved precision and feel
The previous generation Meriva made use of an all electric power steering setup to reduce steering effort. The latest generation model makes use of an electro-hydraulic system that is better suited to the larger size of the new model as well as the fundamental changes to the suspension design. It is tuned to provide excellent feedback and feel for the driver with less vibration.
The steering column of the Meriva has a compact design that allows for a wide range of adjustment for both height and reach. The range of adjustment for reach is 40mm with 50mm of travel available for height. This level of adjustment combines with the wide range of movement of the driver’s seat to provide a comfortable driving position for all but the exceptionally large or small driver.
Neutral Torque Axis engine mounts inhibit engine vibration
The new Opel Meriva makes use of latest technology Neutral Torque Axis (NTA) engine mountings first seen in the Opel Corsa. These separate the loads induced by the engine from the weight of the engine and the torque movement of the engine under power.
The engine is suspended at each end by two top mounts while two lower mountings, situated front and behind, control torque movement. This allows static and dynamic loads to be controlled independently allowing engineers to fine tune the characteristics of the mountings for individual engine and transmission combinations. Lower idle speeds are now specified which not only improves fuel consumption but also reduces uncomfortable low engine speed resonance in the passenger cabin.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is standard on both the Enjoy and Cosmo variants. The ESC is tuned to act progressively and avoid any sudden or early interventions. The system is programmed to execute whatever actions will most effectively counter the onset of any lack of vehicle control. This can involve braking of one, two, three or all four wheels at once or, if necessary, a gentle attenuation of the electronic throttle.
Traction Control. A traction control function is included in the ESC programme. Also controlled by the ESC software is Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EDB) which ensures that an optimum braking force is applied at both the front and rear of the vehicle simultaneously for maximum stability under heavy braking. EBD is supplemented by the Brake Assist System (BAS). This assists the driver in emergency braking situations by ensuring a higher level of deceleration than possible through the normal brake booster system. Even unskilled drivers can achieve very short braking distances with the assistance of this function.
Also included in the ESC package is Electronic Drag Torque Control (EDC). This function prevents the Meriva from becoming unstable due to the effect of engine braking if the driver suddenly lifts off the accelerator or engages a gear that is too low. If any onset of slip on the driven wheels is detected engine torque will be increased until the wheels are rotating at a rate that negates any slip.
Other features included in the electronic driver aids suite are Straight Line Stability (SLS) and Corner Stability Control (CSC). These systems are activated if the car is braking while cornering or travelling straight ahead with the brakes applied on a road surface with differing friction levels. Brake pressure is varied individually between the four wheels to ensure that the vehicle remains stable.
Together the significant array of active and passive safety features incorporated in the new Opel Meriva provide for an exceptional driving experience with excellent vehicle dynamics in all conditions.