By Mike Torpey on 2019-10-05 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Vauxhall Combo Life
SUCH are the myriad demands of the modern family on the move that it's no easy task to fulfil all the requirements.
Peugeot and Citroen have made a solid fist of ticking the boxes with their new Rifter and latest Berlingo offerings, but the newest member of the PSA group's family - Vauxhall - could trump the pair of them.
Of course personal taste and brand preference will always prevail, but in the new Combo Life model Vauxhall have a mult-purpose vehicle to reckon with.
We won't beat about the bush - families need the space to stash stuff, a durable cabin that can withstand rough treatment and spillage, points to plug-in appliances, re-charge phones, load up luggage - and boast bomb-proof safety measures.
And if the thing drives well, is economical on fuel, reasonably priced in the first place and looks pretty good, then all the better.
Well the Combo Life may be on the boxy side but it can't be faulted on any other count.
Vauxhall is confident it can draw in more customers with this model, which comes in two lengths - regular and long wheelbase.
The former boasts has between 597 litres and 2,126 litres of luggage room, while the longer-wheelbase Combo Life XL variant has a maximum of 2,700 litres of boot space when the seats are folded.
Both have twin sliding doors for easy access and a choice of five or seven seats.
Everything about the Combo Life is about simplicity, right down to the available trim grades - there are just two, called Design and Energy.
Entry grade Design starts at £20,135 and only comes as a five-seater though Energy, the grade of our tested seven-seater variant, offers appreciably more.
And that includes fold-flat rear seats in the second row plus a pair of individually removable seats in the back row.
There really is a terrific amount of space on offer with relaxing room for five adults and the potential to place three child seats across the second row thanks to the Isofix points.
While Design versions are pretty well specced up to include the likes of air con, cruise control, DAB radio and electric front windows, it's worth paying a bit more for Energy with its slicker dashboard finish.
You also get 16-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, a touchscreen infotainment set-up, fog lamps and auto headlights.
Safety is catered for efficiently too, with lane keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, forward collision alert, a rear view camera and a head-up display all included on this model.
Engine choice sees a 1.5-litre diesel with two power outputs and the PSA Group's proven 1.2-litre PureTech three-cylinder turbo petrol unit, developing 110ps and using a six-speed manual gearbox.
We found the petrol option perfectly adequate for some busy family motoring, during the course of which we managed to return 42 miles per gallon compared to the official figure of 51.4mpg.
Don't expect anything dynamically sharp, it's not that type of vehicle, but it is comfortable, well insulated and versatile - a sensible and good value family choice.
Vauxhall Combo Life 1.2 Energy
Mechanical: 110ps, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 51.4
Insurance Group: 8
C02 emissions: 125g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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