Vauxhall Combo Life

Energy 1.5 TD 130

Vauxhall Combo Life, dynamic
Vauxhall Combo Life, static
Vauxhall Combo Life, dynamic, rear
Vauxhall Combo Life, interior

VAUXHALL has really put the Life into lifestyle vehicle with its latest people carrier.

Any pretensions of style and sportiness are set aside as the Combo Life focuses squarely on the key MPV requirements of space and versatility.

As a result, what this van-based family wagon lacks in looks it more than makes up for with day-to-day practicality and durability.

For a start, you can get it in standard wheelbase or a stretched XL version, which adds an extra 35 centimetres to the car's length, and both can be specified with either five or seven seats, depending upon the trim level.

Even in the standard version we tested in five-seat form, the advantages of it's van-like frame make the Combo Life a great vehicle for carrying loads as well as people.

The raised roof height means that head room is impressive while legroom is equally accommodating and, with no intrusive transmission tunnel in the rear and three full-size seats, you could carry a basketball team in reasonable comfort.

Sliding doors make getting in and out of the back an easy task even in tight parking spaces and, although the rear door bins are a little on the small side to accommodate those seats, storage elsewhere in the cabin is plentiful and includes two glove boxes and a commodious ‘hatbox' compartment above the windscreen.

The weekly shop won't even make a dent in the 597-litre boot, while trips to the seaside or camping expeditions are easily catered for.

Folding the 60/40 split rear seats down boosts cargo space to a huge 2,126 litres able to accommodate items approaching three metres long.

In today's gig economy the Combo Life will definitely appeal to self-employed delivery drivers wanting a motor that quickly switches from being a van during the day to a family motor once school's out.

So far, so good then. As long as you're happy to forego sleek design this boxy space wagon is scoring big for its ability to get your clan and all their stuff about in a convenient and uncomplicated manner.

It's when you get behind the wheel, though, that the shortcomings of motors like this often become apparent and you begin to feel more like an actual van driver as you're bounced around in your seat while trying to shout to your passengers over a roaring engine and battle with less than slick gearshifts.

The Combo Life has some surprises up its sleeve in this department, however. While it certainly couldn't be described as nimble and agile, it is surprisingly car-like to drive. The accurate steering is well-weighted and offers positive feedback, while the suspension does a great job of smoothing out imperfections in the road surface.

Obviously, given the extra height, there is some body roll in corners but, driven sensibly, this is not a problem as grip is solid and the car remains equally settled in town traffic, along winding lanes and cruising along the motorway.

Wind noise is evident at higher speeds as air swirls around the upright frame but, other than that, it's also impressively smooth and refined - even with the 1.5-litre, 130ps diesel engine that our car had under the bonnet.

Mated to a six-speed manual transmission this offered plenty of pull across a wide rev range and is likely to cope better with a fully-loaded Combo Life than the lower powered version of the same unit or the three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol which are also available.

Just two trims - Design and Energy - are available but the somewhat basic equipment included in the entry-level car means most buyers will opt for the latter.


Vauxhall Combo Life Energy 1.5 TD 130

Price: £23,180

Mechanical: 130ps, 1,499cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 10.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 65.7

Insurance Group:12

C02 emissions: 114g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles


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