The MPV market is one that’s on the downturn, as families turn towards SUV-styled crossovers and more stylish alternatives.
But there is still a market for those looking for practicality and function above all else, and Vauxhall’s new Combo Life – which is one of three models with the same look and layout from the PSA Group who own Citroen and Peugeot.
With short and long wheelbase options, the Combo Life can come with up to seven seats depending on what customers need, but a large amount of storage space is guaranteed whichever one you choose.
We get behind the wheel to see if this style of vehicle can still make sense in this evolving market.
There are three power options for customers to choose from – two of which are provided courtesy of a 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel, while the third comes from a 1.2-litre petrol. We tried the lowest-powered version of the diesel, which develops 100bhp and is paired to five-speed manual transmission with front-wheel drive.
This car isn’t built to be the fastest thing around, and its 0-60mph time of 12.5 seconds proves that. The Combo Life tops out at 109mph. It might not be the most invigorating car to drive, but it offers enough pull when needed and will allow you to cruise on the motorway without any issues.
Ride & Handling
Despite Vauxhall claiming it is nothing like a van – even if the Combo Life shares part of its name with the brand’s small commercial vehicle – the model feels more like one than anything else. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when you need to carrying a lot around with you, and when you take that consideration, the Combo Life is very easy to live with.
Vauxhall has given the Combo Life the option of its IntelliGrip system, which helps maintain the vehicle’s stability in any conditions while improving handling over the standard setup. It also comes with a very comfortable bias, with Vauxhall fitted well-padded seating so it remains accommodating in most circumstances.
Interior & Equipment
Where the car excels is the space it has on offer – both for passengers and for storage. With its boxy dimensions, the rear load space is easy to pack and in the five-seat model you get 614 litres with all the seats in place. The XL long wheelbase version – which can accommodate up to seven people – has a 912-litre load space, and when all the rear seats are folded down that grows to a truly cavernous 2,693 litres.
Accessibility is easy too, as it comes with sliding doors at the rear that offer wide openings to get in and out of. There are also 28 pockets and bins throughout the cabin, so you’ll be able to pack a lot in to the Combo Life, whichever model you go for. If you choose the seven-seater, you can also remove the rearmost seats as and when you want.
As standard, the Combo Life comes with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that can be fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while air conditioning and heated seats are also included. Although it may feel a bit basic, you get everything you need.
A series of safety systems are also available, with a front camera setup providing forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist with departure warning and traffic sign recognition. A driver drowsiness system is also on offer.See Available Vauxhall deals
Customers looking for a spacious family vehicle will be delighted to hear that the Combo Life is available from £19,610 for the base Design option, while top-spec Energy models start from £21,010 – and they come with most of the top-level equipment. The model we tested came in at £22,500, but even that is reasonable considering the amount of optional extras that were added.
The diesel engine we tried comes with quoted returns of 67.3mpg and 111g/km CO2, which are the best efficiency and emissions figures in the Combo Life line-up.
If you’re after a family vehicle or one that you just need to haul a lot of items, the Combo Life is well-worth checking out. It’s simple yet effective layout makes it easy to use in most circumstances, and it will also offer plenty of space for passengers to sit in comfort. It may not be the most exciting vehicle in the world, but it doesn’t have to be, and can be a dependable vehicle for almost all situations.