Company Car

Your Independent source of fleet news, reviews & interviews

The secret diary of a motoring journalist aged 39¾'ish


30th September 2019

There’s a part of me thinks a car like the Vauxhall Combo Life should be the vehicle for me. After all, I can fit in the kids and all the clutter that seems to accompany them everywhere. I could also sling my bikes in without having to worry about cycle racks and chuck all of my hillclimb kit in while using it as a mobile garage/changing room/café. So, let’s see if the Combo Life can convince me.
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On a practical note, the sliding side doors of the Combo make it a doddle to get the kids in and out today on our way to the leisure centre after school. There’s masses of room in the middle bench for the two kids and you could easily fit three abreast. Even with my daughter’s child seat, there’s ample legroom for her without having to slide the front seat forward, which is unusual.
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Another point that often goes unnoticed is flagged up by the kids today on yet another foray to after-school activities. The headlining and side pillars of the Combo are finished in a light coloured material that contrasts with the dark grey upholstery. It makes for a much airier cabin than many SUVs and the kids feel much less enclosed, with the result they both seem happier on a longer drive.
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Where the Combo Life is not quite so clever as an MPV is shown today when I had to load up some boards and boxes into the boot. The third row seats both fold up out of the way easily enough, but they take up a lot of space where most rivals’ tuck them into the floor out of the way. Still, with the seats folded down and in use, there’s decent leg and head room for these third row passengers.
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More driving in the Combo today and I’ve reached the conclusion the 100hp turbodiesel engine is just too damned weedy for the job. There’s a small lag in it giving much in the way of power as you pull away, while on the move it just doesn’t have anywhere near enough oomph for relaxed driving. Even when you drop down a couple of gears it’s slovenly at best.
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The box-like shape of the Combo comes in handy today when parking in a very snug Glasgow underground car park. Luckily, the Vauxhall slots into the jam-packed bays and the sliding side doors are a saving grace for getting the kids out without risking damage to the car or others. A tight turning circle also makes it easy to extract the Combo when we’re getting ready to head home.
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A quiet Sunday morning jaunt on back roads seems to suit the Combo’s lolloping nature as the suspension soaks up the poor surface. The engine is still too sluggish for anything remotely entertaining to happen while driving, but a visit to the Morris Leslie auction site near Perth unearths a delightful old Humber in superb condition. It would be easy to get lured in by the Humber’s charms, but the Vauxhall copes better with kids and caboodle.
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