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First Drive

First Drive: Vauxhall Vivaro Life

The story:
As part of the PSA Group, Vauxhall launched a new Vivaro medium-sized panel van this year, and has supplemented that with a versatile Life-badged large people carrier capable of carrying up to nine people, that shares almost everything with its Citroen SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveller siblings.
Category:Large MPV
Key rival:Ford Tourneo Custom
Vauxhall Vivaro Life 2.0D 180hp Elite Long Auto
MPG:40.6 mpg
On sale:Now


The new Vauxhall Vivaro panel van range launched in the summer has  now been expanded with the addition of a smart new large passenger-carrying version.

The Vauxhall is more-than-closely related to its parent company’s Citroen and Peugeot versions – the Citroen SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveller; switch the front-end designs and badges and there’s little to differentiate apart from specification differences, but when the base vehicles are good that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Vivaro Life will, depending on version, carry up to nine people, and has a combination of larger families, executive and business transport on its radar with two distinct versions.

The Elite we drove here is the more premium of the two. It comes as standard with five seats and a huge luggage space, but a third row of seats taking it to an eight-person MPV is available as an £800 option, as is – for the same option price – the switch to a pair of individual middle-row seats that swivel to either face forwards or turn to face the third-row occupants. A table can also be fitted between rows two and three for another £495.

On the entry and more workmanlike Edition model, a dual-seat front bench can also be specified as a no-cost option to take the Vivaro Life up to nine seats, while the third row costs £1600 because it also adds the 60/40 split second row of seats that the Elite gets as standard. Otherwise, the Edition only comes with a fixed three-person bench in the rear.

Both trims are available in M and L lengths, the latter adding 350mm to the vehicle’s length for a reasonable-looking £980-£1985, depending on model. In the Edition’s case the medium length gets a 100hp diesel, and the longer version a 120hp version of the same 1.5-litre unit, while the more plush Elite has, with both lengths, a choice of 150hp and 180hp 2.0-litre diesel; the more powerful version is the only auto offered.

The top-spec 180hp model has plenty of power for lugging plenty of people plus luggage, and the driving experience isn’t van-like in the traditional sense. It has the commanding seating position of a van, but the refinement, ride and handling don’t scream commercial vehicle in the way that vans-with-windows have in the past. That’s especially true of the Elite, where luxury items make for an appealing way to transport large numbers of people.

paul barker

The verdict

This is a big, versatile vehicle that can be specced to specific needs. The Elite spec in particular is far from cheap but offers a lot for the money.