By Patrick James on 2019-09-15 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Vauxhall Combo Life
XL Energy 1.2 seven
SOMETIMES, what appear to be unexciting vehicles, can take you by surprise and this Vauxhall is one of them.
If ever a name described a vehicle, then the Vauxhall Combo Life is a perfect example.A practical MPV combined with lifestyle outlook.
Clearly a product of Vauxhall's merger with PSA, the link with the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter is unmistakeable.
It will not win any beauty awards, but is stylish enough for what it is. But more importantly, is a highly practical, comfortable versatile machine with a choice of excellent engines and at a starting price of under £20,000, is, as that old expression says, a lot of metal for the money.
It comes with two rear sliding doors and can be ordered as a five- or seven-seater in this case and a choice of wheelbase. That also makes it highly attractive for commercial users, notably taxi drivers and shuttle buses for hotels and airports.
This model was absolutely jam-packed with high end goodies, including head-up display, driver drowsiness alert, parking camera and optional IntelliGrip traction system, as well as heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
The interior is well laid out and cavernous with bags of head and legroom for the front five, with even the rearmost pair having decent room for movement. The two rear sliding doors make access to the second and third row of seats simple and a boon when in tight parking spaces.
Controls are dominated by the central infotainment touchscreen, which controls sat nav, sound system and connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Other controls are intuitive and simply laid out and can be voice activated, although the central armrest felt a bit flimsy.
But chrome accents on the steering wheel, on the door handles and in the air vents are also neat touches.
The commanding driving position means all round vision is good and the large glass areas allow plenty of sunlight to enter.
The van-like dimensions means stowage space is huge with up to 850 litres up to the second row glass line, which can obviously be piled even higher.
Even better, with the rear seats folded down, the volume becomes a huge 2,693 litres on this model.
It doesn't end there, a so-called hatbox above the windscreen as well as large door pockets,and upper and lower glovebox add to the practicality.
There are a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, with the feisty three cylinder 1.2-litre petrol unit on this model, mated with a six-speed gearbox. It is an excellent engine, delivering 110ps to easily powers what is essentially a large vehicle.
It feels lively, but also delivers excellent economy, a claimed 51.4mpg and low CO2 emissions. It also delivers that typical throaty three pot rasp under hard acceleration. I didn't get a chance to get if fully laden with seven people, although a higher output versions at 130ps is available.
For better traction, Intelligrip is a selectable electronic front differential which adapts the torque distribution to the front wheels and allows wheel-spin if necessary for maximum traction if you find yourself offroad or in poor weather conditions.
There are five modes, pretty much self explanatory: Normal, Snow, Mud, Sand: Sand and ESP Off, enabling the deactivation of ESP and traction aids to give the driver complete autonomy.
Vauxhall Combo Life XL Energy 1.2 seven seater
Mechanical: 110ps, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 107mph
0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 51.4
Insurance Group: 9
C02 emissions: 125g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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