Vauxhall Combo Life Energy 1.5 Turbo D review.
For – practical, versatile, sensible.
Against – pricey, bland, gear shift awkward.
Competition – Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Rifter, VW Sharan, BMW 2 Gran Tourer, Ford S Max, Seat Alhambra, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
For some car buyers utility and practicality are the only considerations, and the no-frills Vauxhall Combo has the sliding doors, load lugging and people carrying versatility to satisfy that market.
Looks are on the backburner in this niche too. Although Vauxhall says it was designed from the ground up as a passenger vehicle, the Combo looks more like a van, and its driving characteristics will prompt van thoughts with the long throw manual gear change embedded in the dashboard. What won’t suggest a commercial vehicle heritage is the price. Prices start at £19,610, but will probably move close to £23,000, and that doesn’t suggest budget hair-shirt corner cutting.
The Combo Life has two rear sliding doors and can be ordered as a five or seven-seater, with each configuration available in either standard or longer wheelbase. There’s an optional panoramic glass roof. It has all the latest safety gizmos like Driver Drowsiness Alert, Rear View Camera with 180° bird’s-eye view, Head-up Display, as well as improved comfort features such as heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Transporting a large amount of luggage for the family holiday is also easy thanks to the spacious luggage capability. The five-seat, standard length version has a minimum luggage volume of 597 litres, while the long wheelbase model has a minimum of 850 litres. It can also double as a small transporter. With the rear seats folded down, the boot volume of the standard version more than triples to 2,126 litres. The longer version has a whopping 2,693 litres.
Storage is a big thing with the Combo Life including a box above the windscreen for smaller items, while the driver, front seat passenger and those in back seats can stow their personal items in large door pockets. Seat-back pockets and drawers offer further storage for those in the back. The driver and front seat passenger can take advantage of the upper and lower glovebox. As the airbag on the passenger side is located in the roof, the cooled upper glovebox offers a lot of space, even for large items, and is the ideal place to store drinks.
There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines. You can choose 5 or 6 speed manual gearboxes or an 8-speed automatic. The diesels meet the stringent Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standards. The all-aluminium units are available with modern 5 or 6-speed manual transmission.
Diesels range from 99 hp to 128 hp; petrol motors from 109 hp, with a 128 hp version available from next year. Performance across the range is adequate, while fuel consumption claims run the usual improbable gamut.
Design or Energy?
The infotainment systems available include the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible Multimedia Radio and Multimedia Navi Pro, with an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
The Combo Life comes in two trims – Design and Energy – with Energy models available as either a 5 or 7-seater.
Priced at £19,610 on-the-road, the entry-level Design has a 1.2-litre 109 hp petrol engine. Start/Stop, air conditioning, DAB Radio with USB and Bluetooth audio streaming and 16-inch steel wheels are standard. Energy trim starts from £21,010 on-the-road for the 5-seater 1.2 litre 109 hp 6-manual model. Standard goodies include an 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, 16-inch alloy wheels and front and rear parking sensors.
If you need space for more passengers, the Energy 7-seater starts from £21,710 on-the-road with the 1.2-litre 109 hp manual model. This includes 35/30/35 split-folding second-row seats with fold-flat facility, two removable third-row seats and two foldable tables with cup-holders.
The version I drove, with the 99 hp motor, and Energy configuration, is priced at £21,540 and with a spare wheel, touchscreen satnav, parking pack and metallic paint brought the total to £23,065
What to buy?
People movers seem to be coming back into fashion, and there’s plenty of choice from VW, SEAT and Ford. The Combo Life is the result of the merger of PSA Group and Vauxhall/Opel, and it’s based on the mechanicals of the Vauxhall Grandland X, which is the Peugeot 3008 in disguise. PSA sells the Combo as the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter. Which one should you choose? Get a map and find the nearest dealer. That will save a lot of time, energy and heartache.
(Vauxhall paid for hotel)
|Vauxhall Combo Life Energy 1.5|
|Engine:||1.5 litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power:||99 hp @ 3,500 rpm|
|Torque:||250 Nm @ 1,750|
|Acceleration:||0-60 mph-100 km/h 12.7 seconds|
|Top Speed:||107 mph-170 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined 67.3 mpg-4.2 l/km|
|Emissions class:||Euro 6D Temp with diesel particulate filter|
|Suspension:||MacPherson strut/torsion beam|
|Service Intervals:||20,000 miles or 1 year|
|Boot capacity:||597/2,126 litres|
|Competition:||Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Rifter, VW Sharan, BMW 2 Gran Tourer, Ford S Max, Seat Alhambra, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso|
|For:||practical, versatile, sensible|
|Against:||pricey, bland, gear shift awkward|