Family favourite,

practically speaking

Vauxhall Combo Life, front static
Vauxhall Combo Life, front action
Vauxhall Combo Life, side static 2
Vauxhall Combo Life, side static
Vauxhall Combo Life, rear static
Vauxhall Combo Life, rear seats
Vauxhall Combo Life, doors open
Vauxhall Combo Life, boot 2
Vauxhall Combo Life, boot 3
Vauxhall Combo Life, dash detail
Vauxhall Combo Life, dashboard
Vauxhall Combo Life, boot

THE motoring world might have declared diesel the work of the devil but Vauxhall still has faith in the fuel, and for an intriguing reason.

Not because a good modern diesel can't be clean enough in the emissions stakes to satisfy the most stringent of naysayers - it can - but because of where the latest Vauxhall will go when it's three years old.

For a majority of new Vauxhall Camb Lifes will be sold to the Motability market, where disabled people can use their mobility allowance to fund a car, with the Combo now added to their list of likely candidates.

No wonder, the car is spacious enough for all their bits and pieces and can be had in two lengths and with two or three rows of seats. That offers up the possibility of a Combo Life with room for five people in two rows and a simply massive amount of stowage space in the rear.

So, a Motability user enjoys a Combo Life for three years and the time comes for it to be replaced. Who might fancy a nicely cared for car with space galore for passengers and their luggage - at sensible money?

Yes, you've guessed; the owner of a small taxi company. The sort you see parked outside the station waiting for the London train to arrive in the evening.

All of which means the Combo Life is, frankly, not up there with the likes of an Audi estate, or even one with a Ford badge on the back, in the desirability stakes. But then that's not why you're going to put a Combo Life on the shortlist.

There have been enough rational car choosers dotted around Europe to keep Citroen and Peugeot busily turning out ‘vans with windows' for decades. Now that Vauxhall is owned by the same PSA Group that controls both those French marques you can see why the Combo Life has appeared on the sensible motoring scene.

It shares rather a lot with, for instance, the new Peugeot Rifter and Citroen Berlingo Multispace, with just enough built-in differences to make it viable as a stand alone car, from the way it looks inside and out to differences in equipment and trim.

Available in two trim levels, Design and Energy, the Combo Life has the option of 1.2 litre petrol engine with 100hp or a couple of 1.5 litre diesels with 100 and 130hp and you can have the latter with an automatic gearbox.

The petrol Combo Life claims official economy of 51.4mpg and 125g/km of CO2 emissions against the 111/113 g/km and 67.3/65.7mpg of the two diesels.

The shorter version of the Combo Life measures 4.4m and there's a longer 4.75m version with sliding rear doors on both of them.

The five-seat standard length Combo Life has 597 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place; choose the longer model and there's 850 litres of luggage space with the second row of seats in place or a genuinely van-like 2,693 litres with them folded flat.

Need more space still? Find it in the 28 storage cubbies dotted around the Combo's interior. An interior, you will soon discover that provides properly car like levels of equipment but with a feel more practical plastic than plush.

Long gone are the days when this sort of practicality meant van-like levels of fixtures and fittings. Choose the right version of Combo Life and you can have a heated steering wheel, rear view camera, driver drowsiness alert, head-up display and IntelliGrip which helps the front wheels keep the car moving on ultra slippery surfaces.

Prices range from £19,160 for the entry level Design 1.2 litre petrol model to £22,660 for the Energy seven-seater with 130hp diesel engine and complete with cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and air conditioning.

Fire up the stronger of the two diesel engines and you discover a car that knows its role in life is to provide a comfortable and economical way of moving driver and passengers about without pretending there's a hidden sports car under that practical bodywork.

Which translates into a comfortable ride (you may detect a touch of its French siblings here) and perfectly decent performance, with 115mph and 10.6 seconds to 62mph on top for those Lewis Hamilton moments.

A varied route of town and country roads showed 56.4mpg on the trip computer, which will do nicely, thank you. And all done in a car that will comfortably swallow the family and their luggage, with space to spare.

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