When Opel showed off a concept version of the next-generation Meriva at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, everyone expected the production version to look much the same. After all, the concept exhibited all the styling cues we've seen on other recent concepts from Rüsselsheim. What we didn't expect was for the B-segment people carrier to retain its door configuration. It is standard practice for designers to use rear hinged suicide doors on concepts because it gives better visibility to the interior as the car spins on the auto show turntable, and it also adds a bit of theater.
For various engineering and safety reasons, these are typically discarded in the transition to production. Not this time, however. The basic design of the concept has been brought to production including the rear-hinged FlexDoors, as Opel dubs them. Such doors can actually make sense with the smaller portals on a car of this size, making entry and exit easier for back seat occupants.
In Europe, the Meriva will launch later this year with a lineup of six available gas and diesel engines ranging from 75 to 140 horsepower. Thus far, we have not received any indication from General Motors that the Meriva will come to the Buick lineup to join the Opel-based Regal and Astra/Excelle. The latter is probably as small as GM wants to take Buick at this time.
The new Meriva will debut in Geneva on March 4, but in the meantime, you can check out the high-res gallery below and the official press release after the jump.