The Meriva’s body withstood the front and side impacts. Its high-set seating helped protect in the side impact. The frontal impact exposed flaws in its safeguards for child passengers but it was better in the side impact. The poor pedestrian safety was disappointing for a new design.
The body structure survived the impact well. The driver’s door opened almost normally after the test although the footwell ruptured. The single-stage, untethered airbags worked well to protect the driver’s and front passenger’s heads and necks. But the restraint systems were less effective in reducing impact forces fed through to their chests. The centre rear seat has a three- point belt fitted and this is much safer than a lap-only type.
The high-set seating helped the Meriva turn in a very good performance. A vehicle with optional seat-mounted chest and abdomen airbags was also tested (see overleaf), but it did slightly worse than the standard car. However, testers noted that the side airbags would offer extra protection if a high-fronted vehicle hit the Meriva side-on. The optional curtain airbag worked well.
Both restraints protected the children’s heads in the frontal impact, but forces fed through to their bodies were high, especially for the 18-month-old’s neck. As an option, Opel-branded and modified child seats have transponders fitted to tell the car if the seat is placed on the front passenger’s seat. If it is, the car automatically turns off the airbag opposite.
The warning given against fitting a child restraint on the front passenger’s seat takes the form of a pictogram. There is no written warning of the risk of serious injury or death, which is a serious and unusual omission. Opel has told Euro NCAP that it is working to correct this.
The shape of the car helps its ability to protect pedestrians. Its steeply sloping bonnet and large glass area provides some cushioning where heads might strike. That said, its lack of overall protection is poor for such a new design.