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First Drive

First Drive: Vauxhall Combo Life

The story:
Vauxhall enters the practical van-derived small people carrier segment with the Combo Life, closely related to the respective Berlingo and Rifter offerings from Citroen and Peugeot.
Key rival:Citroen Berlingo
Vauxhall Combo Life 1.5D 100hp Energy M
On sale:Now

The Combo Life gives Vauxhall a budget practical people-carrier with five- or seven-seat capability, at a time when production of the Zafira Tourer MPV has recently come to an end.

Vauxhall Combo Life - 2018 - Image 6As the Combo Life name suggests, the Vauxhall is closely related to the Combo van that launches late this year, and also shares much of its underpinnings with the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter. The three are styled individually, and offer different cabins, although the Vauxhall exhibits several examples of PSA Groupe switchgear, and the key is from the French group’s parts bin.

The Combo Life comes in M and XL vehicle lengths, and both can be had with five or (for an extra £700) seven seats. XL models have an extra 35cm of length, which Vauxhall claims is enough to give the third row of seats more space than the Zafira Tourer offered.

Its engine line-up consists of 100hp and 130hp 1.5 diesels and a 110hp 1.2 petrol; a 130hp petrol follows in 12 months.

Vauxhall Combo Life - 2018 - Image 21To be brutally honest, the interior isn’t great, with the van link obvious from the display of hard plastics. The driving experience, too, is forgettable at best, and certainly not the Combo’s strongest suit.

That is its practicality, with a big square 597-litre boot on the M-sized car expanding to more than 2000 litres with the seats folded. And the rear seats are accessed via a very practical set of sliding doors that make access straightforward, and are a boon in car parks where the danger of bashing other cars is eliminated.

Vauxhall Combo Life - 2018 - Image 13Equipment levels are good, with safety kit particularly impressive and including autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and driver-drowsiness alert. Energy, the higher of the two trim levels, offers enough of an upgrade for the £1400 price tag, including alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors and larger eight-inch touchscreen, to be worth the money, and it’s expected to be the better-seller.

Style-over-substance SUV-style vehicles are to the fore at the moment, which makes the completely unpretentious Combo Life a bit of a breath of fresh air.


paul barker

The verdict

Eminently sensible, the Combo Life does the boring and practical stuff excellently for families that aren’t bothered about a higher-quality cabin or more rewarding driving experience.