Opel Meriva makes it to the Car Of The Year nominees, thanks to its flexi doors!

Now in its 28th year, The Guild’s COTY competition is the most prestigious motor vehicle award in South Africa.

The awards will be held next year in March.

 Each year the SAGMJ conducts an all-inclusive poll of its membership to arrive at a short list of vehicles  launched to South African buyers over the past twelve months that the membership feels are worthy of the title “Car Of The Year.”

Towards the end of October the list of possible candidates is culled further to arrive at a list of finalists that go forward to an intensive phase of dynamic testing in the early part of next year with the winner, the 2013 SAGMJ Car Of The Year, revealed at a gala function in March.

“The past twelve months have seen a high level of new model activity in the South African Motor industry with some excellent high-tech products made available to local buyers,” says Malcolm Gauld, GMSA’s Vice President, Sales and Marketing.

“The Guild was certainly spoilt for choice this year and we are excited by the fact that the membership has recognized the Opel Meriva Cosmo for the innovation and advanced technology that this vehicle has introduced to the small MPV market. We look forward to dynamic testing phase of the contest where we believe the excellent driving dynamics of the Opel Meriva will come to the fore.”

At the core of this exciting small MPV from Opel is a design and engineering project that had as its objective a clean sheet design incorporating the latest technologies and engineering trends to not just produce an evolution of the previous model, but rather a vehicle that took a quantum leap forward in every area.

The suspension for instance is new, down to the last nut and bolt with zero carry over, in the quest for optimised dynamic performance and ride refinement.

Electro-hydraulic power steering is matched to the suspension for exceptional feedback for the driver with the minimum of vibration. Vibration feedback into the vehicle, indeed the entire NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness) characteristic has been refined by the use of complex hydro-formed rather than conventionally pressed steel sub-frames to mount the suspension.

The Opel Meriva is certified with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

A comprehensive suite of electronic driver aids adds to the exceptional driving dynamics of the Opel Meriva. At the heart of this are the ABS braking and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems that are programmed to intervene if a loss of control of the vehicle is detected by strategically placed sensors.

Included in the ESC system are Traction Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Electronic Drag Torque Control. This last item prevents the Opel Meriva from becoming unstable due to the effect of engine braking if the driver suddenly lifts off the accelerator or shifts into a gear that is too low.

Torque at the driven wheels is automatically increased until any wheel slippage is negated. Also included in the package are Straight Line Stability and Corner Stability Control modules.

This impressive array of dynamic performance enhancers sets the Opel Meriva up to be powered by the latest generation advanced technology 1,4 litre turbo-charged engine from Opel. A product of Opel’s strategy of extracting more performance and economy from down-sized capacity engines, this gem of an engine produces 103 kW @ in the range of 4900 – 6000 r/min with 200 Nm of torque delivered across the range of 1850-4900 r/min.

Continually variable valve-timing on both the inlet and exhaust camshafts ensures optimised performance and economy. Drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission.

This provides the energy to accelerate the Opel Meriva from rest to 100 km/h in 10,3 seconds with a top speed of 196 km/h achievable. Fuel consumption for this level of performance is a remarkably low 6,7 l/100km for the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 196 gm/km.

The Opel Meriva sets new standards for flexibility in use. Its FlexDoors concept enables easy access for both front and rear seat occupants. The Opel FlexSpace seating concept has been further refined for this model to provide exceptional ease of use and optimised space utilisation in varying configurations.

Building on the “Flex” concept, Opel engineers developed the FlexRail centre console system for the Meriva to raise the interior storage stakes in the class.

A comprehensive list of interior specification items places the Meriva Cosmo at the head of the class and makes it a worthy competitor for the accolade of Car Of The Year.

The list includes power windows front and rear; air-conditioning with particulate filter; follow me home lights, height adjustable driver’s seat, front and side airbags for the front seats and curtain side airbags for rear occupants; a full suite of electronic driver aids including cruise control; leather covered steering wheel with satellite audio controls; and a radio/CD combo with MP3 and Aux input features.

Possible contender, one must emphasise!

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