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Test Meriva vs. C3, Venga, Modus, Roomster

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Meriva vs. C3, Venga, Modus, Roomster in the test
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Z u one of the nicer legends in almost 125 years of automotive history is the one that says there must be space for a hay bale in British cabs next to the driver.

Practical rear doors do not make a good car

This also applied to the most famous car with rear-hinged rear doors, the 1958 Austin FX4, better known as the London Taxi, which was formerly called suicide doors , Opel is now celebrating as a concept that is supposed to make getting in and out of the Opel Meriva easier. Something is lost in all the enthusiasm that practical rear doors alone do not make a good car, that the advantages of the rear-hinged doors are also kept within manageable limits and that the Meriva offers definitely more significant qualities. This includes the seating system in the rear in the test. It optimizes the well-known tricks - the longitudinally adjustable rear seat can be regrouped into a two-person combination or laid completely flat. This requires more than just a few hand movements, but it works so quickly that you really often take advantage of the variability options instead of just taking them for a walk.

The Meriva cannot set itself apart when it comes to performance

The Opel Meriva does not translate the lush exterior dimensions into the most spacious interior, although it can accommodate four passengers well. The back seat lacks a bit of contour, but the optional ergonomic front seats (685 euros) are among the best in their class. In terms of ergonomics, the operating concept with many small switches and complicated operating logic was next to it. Although the second strongest, the Meriva did not stand out in terms of performance in the test. The gentle turbo boost of the economical 1.4-liter fits in well with the character of the Opel, which conquers the comfort chapter with the smoothest suspension comfort and low noise level. In terms of driving characteristics, too, it is ahead with good-natured cornering behavior. On the other hand, he has just as little time for pronounced dynamism as the others.

Picasso as the first family car overtaxed

Only the Citroën C3 Picasso tries with greater ambition in this area - without resounding success. As soon as it no longer sweeps over smooth measuring stretches, but rather undulating country roads, it tumbles around - with relocators and small rear swings that have to be caught by the hectically appealing, jerky steering. The tight chassis set-up only harms comfort - just like the loud engine.Despite clever details such as the sliding rear seat, remote-controlled child safety and lots of storage space, the Picasso was too much of a family car in the test, and at 4.08 meters it is too short. Even for children, there is little space on the barely contoured rear bench, the optional glass roof reduces headroom. Pilot and Co travel less crowded, but also in uncomfortable seats. Also because of the thirsty, not very energetic engine, the scratchy, briefly translated five-speed box and the high price, only the last place remains for the Citroën C3 - even good brakes and the lavish equipment cannot prevent that.

Venga holds back in consumption

The Kia Venga also not, although in the test it shows even greater deficits than the Citroën - for example, a clumsy suspension that rumbles, barely absorbs transverse joints and passes rough bumps on as catapult blows. The booming, loud engine also contributes to the poor driving comfort. The precise, briefly translated five-speed gearbox keeps it high-revving to cover up the lack of torque. After all, the vacuum cleaner responds quickly to the gas and holds back - also due to the start-stop system (300 euros) - in terms of consumption, without reaching the overall qualities of the turbo competition. This also applies to driving safety. Which is particularly noticeable because the Kia Venga first animated to brisk driving style - despite the jerky steering. If the Kia hits bumps in curves or if it feels provoked by load changes, it stubbornly shifts or swings the rear out.

Because ESP is rushing to fix it, it is more uncomfortable than dangerous. Although it accommodates four passengers spaciously and in neat seats, the Kia Venga in the body section on the penultimate place - because of poor all-round visibility and the small standard trunk. It owes fourth place to the low price, the extensive standard equipment and a seven-year manufacturer's guarantee.

Modus interior is a bit dreary

The Renault Grand Modus, on the other hand, rakes in with its low price, the understeering but carefree driving behavior and the cultivated, elastic turbo engine points - with a weight advantage of 208 kilos helping to accelerate the 20 hp more powerful Opel in the test. The mode shows its age with somewhat longer braking distances, instruments that are difficult to read, little variability and, even for this quintet, sluggish driving dynamics. The suspension talent is also only average, but it is enoughwith the low interior noise level to assert itself in the comfort chapter ahead of the Kia Venga and Citroën C3.

Renault sets up the somewhat dreary Modus interior with barely shaped seats on which the passengers squat high and close together - but at least with a good view. The limited space and the small trunk, which can only be enlarged, are among the major disadvantages of Renault Modus. But it is recommended with practical details such as large door cutouts, lots of shelves, the easy-care interior and the low loading sill as an inexpensive, pragmatic, unpretentious family car.

Roomster combines the advantages of a small car with those of a van

Inexpensive? Pragmatic? Unpretentious? Those are the keywords for the Skoda Roomster balancing on the demarcation line between minivan and panel van. Up front it feels like Fabia, integrating the crew deep into the cockpit on comfortable seats. Behind it hangs the passenger compartment in the winter garden format. It offers the best amount of space, variable furniture - three seats that can be folded down, moved and tilted separately plus the option of two free-standing single armchairs. In addition, the Skoda Roomster has the largest trunk . Promising rear seats for the children, speedy handling for the parents: this is how the Roomster combines the advantages of a small car with those of a van. The suspension qualities of the stiff chassis improve with the load, and even outperform the Meriva in the test. The Roomster almost reaches this level in terms of driving safety, topping it when it comes to deceleration.

The facelift in May only brought cosmetic changes to the outside of the Skoda. More importantly, it got the 105 hp 1.2-liter turbo, which also impresses with its emphatic elasticity, high smoothness and low fuel consumption. With the busy TSI, the robustly processed Roomster no longer the cheapest, but remains the cheapest in terms of maintenance. The Skoda Roomster took first place - despite conventional rear doors. He's in good company with them - they've even had the London Taxi since 1997.


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