Vauxhall Combo Life is immensely practical, has loads of room and looks good value, but not everyone will like its looks or utilitarian interior
Let’s get the van thing out of the way first. The Vauxhall Combo Life is not a van. It looks like a van, but it’s not a van. If you can get past those looks you’ll find a spacious, practical family car that can take the whole kitchen, never mind the sink, and is relatively cheap to buy and run.
It’s very similar to the Peugeot Rifter and Citroen Berlingo – all three brands are owned by the same company – and is an alternative to the Ford Tourneo.
The Vauxhall Combo Life comes with either five or seven seats and standard or long-wheel bases. All versions come with practical sliding rear doors that lead into a row of three seats that you can happily fit three separate child seats into.
The dashboard is made of hard scratchy plastics that while not the last word in luxury, looks like it will be durable. In fact, the whole interior is one that you won’t mind getting dirty because it will clean up easily with a quick wipe down – perfect for families.
Entry level Design cars don’t come much in the way of equipment – steel wheels, air con and a radio are the highlights. No, really.
Pick an Energy car and things improve greatly. Most noticeably is the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that comes with DAB, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sat nav is a reasonably priced option, but when you can hook up your mobile phone this easily, why bother?
There are no less than 28 different cubbies throughout the Vauxhall Combo Life cabin, but it’s a bit of shame that rear door bins are so small and narrow. Things are better up front – the hard bit will be remembering where you stored your stuff rather than not having a space for it.
The Combo Life is full of surprises. By surprises I mean little storage spaces. Every time you use it, you keep on finding one you’ve never seen before.
Still, everyone will have enough room – three adults in the back can sit comfortably side by side and will have loads of leg and head room.
There’s almost 600 litres of boot space with all five seats in place. Fold the rear seats down and you’ll have a massive 2,126 litres of space.
The driver’s seat is reasonably comfortable – but there’s no lumbar support which eases back strain on longer journeys. The higher seating position and big windows mean you get a great view out – front and back – so it’s easy to manoeuvre around town.
You choose between a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol (with a six-speed manual gearbox) or a pair of 1.5-litre turbo diesels with either 100hp or 130hp. The lower-powered diesel has a five-speed manual but the higher powered diesel can come with either a six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed auto.
You won’t set the heather alight driving the Vauxhall Combo Life – it’s driving characteristics match its overall character; it will get you and your considerable amount of stuff from A-B with minimum of fuss but don’t expect much in the way of thrills while you are doing it.
As you would hope, the Vauxhall Combo Life comes with a long list of safety kit. It hasn’t yet been tested by EuroNcap but every car comes with a suite of safety aids, including lane keep assist with departure warning, speed sign recognition, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver drowsiness alert.