Official Vauxhall Meriva pictures revealed

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Vauxhall has released the first official pictures of the new Meriva, the mini-MPV due to be unveiled at this year's Geneva Motor Show and expected in UK showrooms by the summer.

First amongst the new car's innovations are the rear-hinged back doors, which have made it from the 2008 design concept to the production line.

Opening to backwards to almost 90 degrees, the FlexDoors will mean considerably better access for rear passengers, and should boost the Meriva's appeal among the young families that will undoubtedly make up its customer base.

Vauxhall is obviously very proud of the new suicide doors, and their presence on the Meriva is highlighted by the distinctive kink of the window line, which ensures children seated in the rear are treated to the same panoramic views as the adults up front.

Elsewhere the Meriva's exterior has remained remarkably true to the concept. Vauxhall's 'blade' design language is more than apparent in the car's flanks, which lend the car a much sleeker profile than its predecessor.

The influence of the current Meriva should be felt more keenly inside. Vauxhall reports that the popular FlexSpace system which allows the rear seats to be moved and folded into the floor has been carefully refined, and should now be even easier to use.

The new Meriva also gets a sliding storage solution called FlexRail. The system incorporates a dual-rail above the centre console that allows storage bins to be moved between the front and rear passengers.

Vauxhall will launch the Meriva with a choice of six turbocharged engines, power ranging from 74bhp to 138bhp. The car benefits from a longer wheelbase than current model, and with wider front and rear tracks, Vauxhall is promising a marked improvement in terms of ride and handling.