What is it?
With our ever-growing appetite for SUVs having left a big dent in the demand for traditional people carriers, van-based MPVs are some of the last bastions of practicality.
The recipe (five or seven spacious seats, sliding doors for easy access, ample room in the back for almost anything you’d care to transport) was established almost two decades ago by the Citroen Berlingo, and now Vauxhall is following suit with the Combo Life.
Unlike the last-generation Combo, which only ever made it to the UK in van form, the Combo Life was designed from the ground up as a car first. That’s important, because it also needs to appeal to Zafira tourer customers, now that model has been retired.
It follows the Grandland X SUV as only the second Vauxhall to be based on new owner PSA Group’s EMP2 architecture, and shares its platform with the new Berlingo and Peugeot’s crossover-inspired Rifter.
The Combo shares many of its underpinnings with the Grandland X, including a MacPherson strut and torsion beam rear suspension setup. It will be offered in 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol and 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel forms, but only the highest-powered 128bhp diesel can be optioned with an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
This most practical of MPVs will also arrive as a long wheelbase variant, and with space for an extra two passengers in the rear. A hybrid version should follow at some point, too.
The Combo is tested here in short wheelbase, five-seater guise, with power from the entry-level 99bhp diesel sent through a five-speed manual gearbox.
Our car’s top-spec Energy trim includes 16in alloy wheels, body-coloured exterior trim, front and rear parking sensors, and an 8in touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.