Opel will unveil the dynamically styled Meriva Concept, at the International Motor Show at Geneva, beginning on 6 March.
Termed as the next level of monocab flexibility by the company, the concept car features rear-hinged rear doors on both sides of the car called FlexDoors. The front doors are more conventional with front hinges, whereas the rear doors swing open towards the back of the car. Interestingly, the front and rear doors can open independently of each other.
Key features of the FlexDoors innovation include:
- Greater functionality: entering and exiting the vehicle is more convenient as the rear doors open to a 90-degree angle, creating a much wider aperture than standard car doors. Thanks to the high roofline, rear passengers also have more headroom when getting in and out of the car. The interior is much more accessible, so stowing a briefcase behind the front seat, for instance, is considerably easier.
- Higher level of safety: securing children in the back seats is much easier. The rear-hinged rear doors also improve control over children exiting the car, as they can be better seen from the different seating positions. The safety zone created between both doors also makes it much more difficult for them to step out into traffic than with conventional doors.
- More style: entering and exiting the rear of the vehicle not only looks cool and elegant, but also feels much more natural.
FlexDoors smooth operation is backed up by an array of patented innovations developed by Opel engineers. A safety system ensures the doors can only be opened from the inside or outside when there is no risk to the passengers. The Meriva Concept also has an automatic electronic child lock, which supplements the conventional mechanical system. The concept car also has B-pillars for independent opening and also for side-impact safety reasons.
The design is attractive and the interiors are spacious with very dynamic and cool styling. The concept car's distinctive window line, arched roof, wide track and impressively sculpted body give a good indication of what is to be expected from future Opel production monocabs.
According to Mark Adams, Vice President, Design, General Motors Europe, the Meriva Concept clearly illustrates how the new Opel design language can be adapted to create bold, fresh design solutions for the monocab segment. Another eye-catching feature is the dynamic 'wave' of the window line just behind the B-pillars, which provides an excellent all-round view for rear passengers. This 'wave' enabled designers to create a dynamic and unique silhouette and still provide good visibility for children in the rear.
With a distinctive 'blade' bodyside form, a design element of the GTC Coupé and Flextreme, the concept car has a U-shaped windshield, which stretches up and back over the rear passengers' heads. The monocab's roof slopes gently downward towards the rear, underlining its dynamic character.
Alain Visser, Chief Marketing Officer, General Motors Europe, feels that the FlexDoors concept is a enhancement of the monocab flexibility. He explained that Opel enjoyed great success with the monocab designs. In 2007, the company sold almost 335,000 Zafira and Meriva models. The company has also introduced the new Agila monocab, an entry-level monocab in the mini-car segment. In monocab sales, every fifth Opel model sold is a monocab, while it is one out of eight for other companies.
View: Auto videos | Auto picture galleries