First Drive

First Drive: Vauxhall Combo Life

The story:
Vauxhall Combo Life’s sibling to the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter gets an X addition to the range, offering more space in both five- and seven-seat layout.
Category:MPV
Key rival:Citroen Berlingo
Vauxhall Combo Life XL 1.5D 100hp Energy
Price:£23,500
MPG:67.3mpg
Emissions:115g/km
On sale:Now

 

The Vauxhall Combo Life launched last year as part of a trio of MPVs with van-related siblings across the PSA Group’s Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands. All arrived initially in shorter form, with the longer versions following on early this year, as is the case with this Combo Life XL.

The XL boasts an extra 350mm of length over the regular model, and costs an extra £900, but the extra practicality means boot space goes up from an already huge 597 litres to an almost ridiculous 850 litres up to the roof line. There are a respective 571 and 806 litres of space to the roofline behind the optional third row of seats that is available on the Energy trim; these cost £700 on the shorter Combo Life and £800 on the XL.

From a passenger point of view, the XL has a surprising amount of space in row three, more in fact than the still-spacious middle row. Amusingly, it’s actually easier and more elegant to get into the third row from the boot rather than by dropping the middle row, thanks to the low rear bumper lip and the gap between the two back seats. And that’s despite the sliding doors making for an easy landing into the middle row. However, all five of the rear seats are lacking a little in support, with the seat back being shorter than might be ideally expected.

First Drive-May 2019-Vauxhall Combo Life-Image 3The Combo Life is now the only seven-seater in the Vauxhall range (apart from the larger van-based Vivaro Life), because the rise of the SUV has killed off the traditional MPV family wagon. Unfortunately, there’s none of the clever flexible seating that buyers of the old Zafira Tourer might expect; the third row of seats can be removed and the backs drop flat, as do the middle row, but there’s no trickery.

The XL comes with a choice of 110hp 1.2 petrol and 100hp 1.5 diesels, although the diesel is the only one that can be specced with the third row of seats; an additional 130hp 1.5 diesel is available only with the shorter Combo Life model.

The diesel’s emissions rise from 111g/km to 113g/km by going for the longer vehicle, and another 2g/km to 115g/km by adding the extra seats.

The Combo Life looks bland, isn’t a particularly enjoyable drive and the cabin plastics are durable rather than plush, but it’s a car that performs the seven-people-and-stuff-on-a-budget role with aplomb.

Paul Barker

The verdict

It’s completely utilitarian but does what it does well, offering genuine seven-person carrying ability and
luggage space in a compact vehicle.