Vauxhall Combo Life (2018–)

Last updated 3 July 2019

It would be easy to dismiss the Combo Life as merely a 'van with windows' but that's doing it a big disservice. It handles surprisingly well with responsive steering and decent body control. Vauxhall states that it was designed as a car first and van second, which is certainly evident from behind the wheel. 

True, it's not a vehicle to be thrown into corners, but it grips strongly and feels reassuring while the ride quality is good even when it's empty. Compared to the last generation of van-based MPVs, this is a big step forward.

Around town, the good all round visibility makes the Combo easy to turn into tight spots, helped by the slightly raised driving position. There's plenty of adjustment in both the steering column (height and reach) as well as the seat so even taller drivers will have few problems getting comfortable. The XL version is 4.75 metres long but light steering at low speeds and a tight turning circle mean parking isn't a stress. Standard models don't come with parking sensors though (you have to go for an Energy for that) and if you want a reversing camera that's an optional extra as part of the Parking Pack.

If you're a long distance driver, the diesel in the Combo Life makes the most sense. The 1.5-litre diesel comes in two version. The first is the 100PS which has a decent 250Nm of torque and promises economy of more than 65mpg. Go for the 130PS model and torque is upped to 300Nm while the manual gearbox has six speeds as oppose to five. What sets the more powerful diesel apart is that it's available with an eight-speed automatic.

If you don't want diesel, the good news it that the petrol engine is not the poor relation here. In fact the excellent 1.2-litre petrol (borrowed from Peugeot Citroen where it's labelled PureTech) is one of the best three-cylinder engines around.

The 110PS unit may only have a moderate 205Nm of torque but it pulls strongly and gives the Combo Life a surprising turn of pace. It's quiet unless you really work it hard and proves economical too, with a claimed figure of more than 50mpg. It's our pick of the range here. A more powerful 130PS version is also available from mid-2019.

If you're using the Combo Life to tow, it has a maximum trailer load of up to 1500kg (for the 1.5 D 130PS) and there's the option of a fixed or removable towing hook. This also includes Trailer Stability Control - an additional ESP function which stabilises trailers or will slow the vehicle if needed.

List Price from £16,080 +VAT
Buy new from £11,695 +VAT
Contract hire from £165.00 +VAT pm

Ask Honest John

Value my van