Vauxhall Combo Life

Energy XL

Vauxhall Combo Life, front static 2
Vauxhall Combo Life, front static
Vauxhall Combo Life, rear static 2
Vauxhall Combo Life, rear static
Vauxhall Combo Life, front seats
Vauxhall Combo Life, rear seats
Vauxhall Combo Life, middle seats
Vauxhall Combo Life, dashboard
Vauxhall Combo Life, boot 1

IT took a couple of days to start driving this seven seater from Vauxhall in the way you might expect an owner to use it. Then it felt a lot better.

So much better, in fact, that when the nice man drove it away after its time with me I really missed the Combo Life's easygoing thoughtfulness.

First impressions were less favourable. It might share lots of mechanical bits with cars from Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall but let's be honest... it looks like a van with windows.

Get used to the commercial vibe, though, and the boxy shape starts to pay dividends with a simply huge cabin packing seats for seven grown ups or five and a ginormous boot (you can lift row three out altogther if you want).

Then there's a vast tailgate that could turn to rain-cheating shelter if you're caught in a British summer shower while picnicking and enough storage spaces to hide a family's clutter - and the deepest glovebox in the world.

Added practicality comes with sliding rear doors (great in a tight car park) and a front passenger seat that flops flat and gives an enormous straight through space, front to rear, for that time you need to move a ladder between homes.

Nothing van like about the fixtures and fittings that come as standard on this Energy XL level car, with highlights that include air conditioning, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, alloy wheels, cruise control, electric windows front and rear and heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors.

Start the pleasantly thrummy three-cylinder petrol engine and you'll be better off adopting a relaxed attitude to putting on the miles. It's not a fast car and doesn't relish the thought of door-handling round the corners.

Take it easier and things fall into place, with a usefully cushioned ride, decently comfy seats and an unexpected quietness in the cabin to leave you relaxed at journey's end, even if you arrive a little later than the chap in the hatchback who set off at the same time.

If you're prepared the bump up the bottom line a little things in the Combo Life get even better. How about a head up display for speedo readings and sat nav directions (very Top Gun) for £355, a helpful sat nav and DAB sound at £450 or darkened rear windows for £110?

Dig deeper - but with add-on costs so reasonable a Porsche buyer would suspect a misprint - and your van-ish Vauxhall becomes more practical still. If that huge tailgate might not open parked hard against a wall there's an opening rear window (£305) and, if you venture off the hard stuff something called IntelliGrip costs £410 and lets the car adapt to low grip beneath its wheels.


Vauxhall Combo Life Energy XL

Price: £22,310

Mechanical: 108bhp, 1,199cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 109mph

0-62mph: 12.0 seconds

Combined MPG: 42.4

Insurance Group: 9

C02 emissions: 125 g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles


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