Vauxhall Combo Life long-term review

Could Vauxhall’s van-based people carrier be the perfect lifestyle vehicle? We’ve got three months to find out...

Vauxhall Combo Life door

The car: Vauxhall Combo Life 1.5 (100PS) Turbo D S/S Energy XL 7-Seater Run by: Alan Taylor-Jones, new cars editor

Why it’s here: To see if the Combo Life is a sensible alternative to a modern SUV

Needs to: Offer plenty of space, provide a comfortable ride on long journeys and have a raft of equipment and modern safety tech

Price £23,765 Price as tested £26,735 Miles covered 1267 Official economy 42.2-50.8mpg (WLTP combined) Test economy 40.0mpg Options fitted Multimedia Navi Pro (£450); Parking Pack (£400); Winter Pack (£200); Child Pack (£250); Dark-tinted rear windows (£110); Opening tailgate with tints (£305); Roof rails (£150); Spare wheel (£110); Head-up display (£355); Electronic climate control (£200); 230V socket (£50); Wireless charging (£105); Brilliant Paint (£285)

30th May 2019 – A sliding doors moment 

Doing nothing can be both a blessing and a burden. It can be a time to escape and dream up new adventures, but also to ponder all that’s not right with the world. And sitting in a traffic jam one Friday night on the North Circular, I found myself pondering the latter. 

Well, maybe not all that’s wrong with the world exactly, just what was wrong with the Combo Life’s steering? You see, when its stationary with the engine idling — or even creeping along slowly when the North Circular decided to tease a few feet of progression — as I turned the steering wheel I could feel it juddering in my hands. 

It’s an electric power steering system, which means that a motor is adding assistance, but rather than applying force smoothly, it was pulsing. You could watch it: the steering wheel would move then stop, move then stop, in tiny increments, as if ratcheted. 

This always felt more of a curiosity than a safety worry, because once I was doing more than a few miles an hour, normal steering service resumed. And after speaking to Vauxhall, it turns out I’m not the first to notice it. So, if you’re Combo Life is showing similar symptoms, pop back to your nearest dealer where a software fix is available.

Vauxhall Combo Life

The next day I headed to Luton airport — a stone’s throw from where the bigger Vauxhall Vivaro is made as it happens. I found a spot to park and backed in, and then discovered another Life issue: I couldn’t get my luggage out the boot. 

Back up to a wall and you need to leave several feet of clearance to allow the long, top-hinged tailgate to swing up. I hadn’t, so had to pull forward, retrieve my luggage, and reverse back again. 

There is an upside, though. When I returned a few days later to find some swine had left me no more than a foot to open the driver’s door, I simply popped open the slim-line sliding rear door, climbed in, left my luggage on the back seat and scrambled into the driver’s seat.
That meant I escaped the confines of the car park easily enough, only to return quickly to the confines of my own mind in the trickling traffic on the M1.

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