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Vauxhall Meriva MPV revealed

The butterfly wings of its new Meriva MPV open to reveal a clever cabin highlighted by space and light.  Though the Meriva, built on the European Astra platform and so cursed as unlikely to come to Australia, seats only five, it has a versatile interior that includes a forward-placed instrument panel, side and forward sliding rear seats and a central, movable centre console known as FlexRail.

This system sits between the front seats on rails, taking up space where the gearshift - now higher on the dashboard - and park brake - now an electric button - once claimed space.  Vauxhall said it provides convenient and adaptable storage for everyday items, from handbags and colouring books to iPods and sunglasses.

Flexible seating gives the baby wagon a range of cabin configurations without having to remove any seats, changing from two to five. Both its outer rear seats can be moved fore and aft individually, and also slide inwards to provide more shoulder width and leg room. Additionally, rear seat backs can be fully lowered without having to remove their head restraints.

The butterfly (or suicide doors) are opposite hinged to improve entry and egress to the ear, though the central B-pillar remains. The only similar system on mass-produced cars is the Mazda RX-8.  The Meriva debuts at the Geneva motor show in March.