Review: Vauxhall Combo (2018)
Practical small van with one-tonne payload, will carry items up to 3440mm in length, can seat up to three in the front.
Most of the smart tech costs extra, no high roof option, petrol engines won't arrive until late 2019.
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Vauxhall Combo (2018): At A Glance
The Combo marks a strong return to form for Vauxhall vans. Not only does it cover all of the important small van requirements, when it comes to carrying capacity, running costs and practicality, but it also breaks new ground when it comes to safety tech. It’s just a pity that the majority of the smart features cost extra.
The Vauxhall Combo is based on the same platform as the Citroen Berlingo, which means the largest versions will carry up to 1050kg and provide as much as 4.4 cubic metres of load space. It’ll also carry pipes and ladders, measuring up to 3.4 metres, when fitted with the optional FlexCargo load-through hatch.
Vauxhall edges ahead of its rivals, like the Ford Transit Connect and Volkswagen Caddy, when it comes to running costs. Advertised fuel economy peaks at 67.3mpg, which makes the Combo one of the most efficient vans in its class.
The Combo is available in Standard (4.4 metres) or XL body lengths (4.75 metres) – both get the choice of two or three front seats in the front. All will carry two Euro pallets, while the 1.2 metre load width between the rear wheel arches provides enough space for a forklift to load the van without causing damage to the load bay.
The Combo gets a huge array of useful, innovative tech. The overload warning system is the most important (albeit optional) addition, providing a timely reminder when the van nears its load limit. The van can also be fitted with a camera system, which emulates the rear-view mirror by displaying what's behind the van on the infotainment touchscreen.
At launch, the Combo gets the choice of 1.6 and 1.5 turbodiesels. The 1.6 Turbo D can be specified with 75PS or 100PS, with the latter providing the best balance between performance and fuel economy. A 130PS 1.5 Turbo D adds more power and torque for shifting heavy loads - it's also the only engine to get the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox. A 1.2 Puretech petrol is added to the range in mid-2019.
Regardless of which engine you choose, the Combo remains an easy and largely stress-free van to drive. The cabin is airy, comfortable and modern, while the light steering and firm suspension provides a supple ride quality that is only ever spoilt by the fitment of optional 16-inch alloy wheels.
What does a Vauxhall Combo (2018) cost?
Vauxhall Combo (2018): What's It Like Inside?
Vauxhall offers the Combo as a panel van or five-seater crew van, in two load lengths – Standard and XL. Depending on which model you choose, payloads range from 650kg – 1050kg, while load volumes start at 3.3 cubic metres for the Standard bodystyle and rise to 4.4 cubic metres for the longer XL van.
While a single side sliding door is fitted as standard, we’d recommend spending extra on the second door and the optional Flex Cargo pack - the latter expands the Combo's flexibility by adding a load hatch in the bulkhead.
The Standard Combo has a load length of 1.8 metres (3.0 metres with the FlexCargo) while the XL model provides 2.1 or 3.4 metres with the optional hatch. The load width, however, is slightly down on the 1.7 metres you get in the old Combo with the newer version providing 1.6 metres.
Most Combos get a useful 1.2 metre load width between the rear wheel arches, with the only exception being the crew van which has 1.1. Owing to the fact that the Combo doesn't have a high roof option, the loading heights are limited to 548mm for the Standard van and 620mm for the XL model.
The Combo gets two or three seats up front, but the position of the gearbox on manual versions will make it a snug fit for three large adults. There are lots of useful storage points for cups, phones and valuables. All vans get an overhead shelf and underseat storage, while two USB ports and a 12V socket should keep mobile devices charged while the van is on the move.
Standard equipment is generally fine, with entry-level Combo vans getting DAB audio, Bluetooth phone connectivity and electric and heated door mirrors. That said, you have to upgrade to the mid-spec model to get things air conditioning, cruise control and lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat. Range topping versions get an eight-inch colour touchscreen with navigation and connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
What's the Vauxhall Combo (2018) like to drive?
The Vauxhall Combo is a small van that's designed to cover huge distances at the lowest possible fuel cost. Most small businesses and sole traders will opt for the 1.5 or 1.6 turbocharged diesels, while short multi drop city-based drivers will prefer the 1.2 petrol.
All of the engines are sourced from Vauxhall's parent company PSA - Peugeot/Citroen - with the entry-level 1.6 Turbo D based on the 1.6-litre unit that powered the old Berlingo. However, while it might be getting on in years, the four-cylinder turbodiesel makes a strong case for itself with low running costs and lots of low-gear pull for shifting heavy loads.
The 1.6 Turbo D range starts with the entry-level 75PS unit, which produces 210Nm of torque from 1750rpm and returns an official 64.2mpg. This engine is only available on the Standard Combo bodystyle with a five-speed manual gearbox. The 0-62mph dash takes around 16 seconds, which leaves the 75PS diesel feeling quite slow.
The 100PS version of the 1.6 Turbo D is far superior; not only does it produce more power and torque (259Nm) but it is also cheaper to run with Vauxhall advertising 67.3mpg. Available in both Standard and XL bodystyles, the 100PS 1.6 Turbo D takes around 12 seconds to reach 62mph.
At launch, the 1.5 Turbo D is restricted to the Combo Standard bodystyle only, but provides much more power and 300Nm of torque. The 1.5 has an advertised range of 64-66mpg, which means you don't pay a hefty price for its higher output. It's also the quickest off the mark, with 0-62mph taking 10 seconds, and the only engine to get the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox.
From 2019, Vauxhall adds the three-cylinder 1.2 Puretech turbocharged petrol to the Combo range with 110PS or 130PS. Fuel economy will be confirmed in 2019, but torque will be roughly in line with the 75PS 1.6 diesel.
Drivers who live in rural areas can specify IntelliGrip electronic traction control, which optimises the front-wheel drive system to cope with ice, snow, mud and sand. The optional Construction Pack provides improved underbody protection, thanks to a sump guard and Michelin Latitude Tour Mud and Snow tyres for added grip. The chassis height is also increased by 30mm.