- Decent range of engines
- Great handling
- Value for money
- Not the most stylish small van
- Petrol engine lacks torque
The Vauxhall Combo is a best-selling small van with a lot to offer businesses and private owners alike. The van is spacious and cheap to run, and there’s also the excellent all-electric Combo-e to consider too. The Vauxhall offering is based on the same platform as the Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo but does have the edge in some respects.
In a competitive small van segment, the Vauxhall Combo has proved to be a popular choice and despite being launched in 2018, it’s still winning awards. It’s also almost identical to the Peugeot Partner and Citroen e-Berlingo with the latest version capable of a 1,000 kg payload.
Voted International Van of the Year 2019, the Vauxhall Combo is based on an all-new architecture and is offered in a selection of variants, including short wheelbase, long wheelbase and crew van.
It can carry a load volume of up to 4.4 m3 and a payload of up to a tonne. Longer items up to 3,440mm, such as pipes and ladders, can be stored safely and securely, thanks to the rear swing doors and FlexCargo load-through hatch.
In crew van body style, up to five occupants can be accommodated, while the load is safely stowed behind a partition wall.
In addition, the rear bench can be folded down and the partition moved behind the front seats if required.
A Vauxhall spokesman said: “The Vauxhall Combo raises the bar in the compact van segment. It is practical, comfortable and packed with all of the latest driver assistance and connectivity technology, the Combo is the small van that meets all your business needs.”
Reasons to buy
Perhaps the main reasons to buy the Vauxhall Combo will come down to price and how close a Vauxhall dealer is. Underneath the lid, it’s very similar to the partner and e-Berlingo but there’s still a lot to recommend what is a capable and robust creation. The crew van, in the long-wheelbase version, can carry up to five people and there are three trim levels to meet most needs.
If you like the Vauxhall Combo, then consider the Ford Transit Connect or the Volkswagen Caddy.
While the Vauxhall combo is cheap to run, that’s mainly down to the excellent 1.5-litre diesel engines that are turbocharged and produce between 76 bhp and 130 bhp.
There’s also a 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine with three cylinders producing 110 bhp with torque of 210Nm. This engine will struggle when the van is fully loaded and be aware that you may struggle to sell on these petrol versions.
Otherwise, the diesel units return around 54 mpg – though that’s with the manual box and the automatic transmission will drop this fuel economy down to 48 mpg.
The petrol engine returns 51 mpg.
The service intervals for the Combo are every year or 12,500 miles for the turbocharged petrol engine, while for the diesel engines it is 25,000 miles or every two years.
The load space for the Vauxhall Combo is slightly more than for its Partner and Berlingo siblings, with the L1 version offering 3.3 m³.
Opt for the longer wheelbase L2, and there’s 3.9 m³ thanks to the extended overhang at the rear.
The crew van with five seats has up to 4 m³ of space to offer.
In the L1, the load length is 1.78 metres, and for the L2 it is 2.31 metres.
The width between the Combo’s wheel arches is 1.23 metres so there’s enough space for two Euro pallets.
Access to the cargo area is straightforward with the rear door opening wide, and there’s a sliding side door fitted as standard on the L1, and a pair of sliding side doors on the L2.
The load space can be protected with a vinyl or plywood floor, and Vauxhall offers glazing to the doors if necessary – and a steel bulkhead window too.
It’s worth noting that the FlexCargo system offers extra features including fold-down front seats and a hole in the bulkhead to enable the storing of longer items.
In 2019, Vauxhall unveiled the Combo Cargo 4×4 which has similar volumes and load space dimensions, but the load floor is slightly higher because of the van’s raised ride height.
Technology & Safety
Along with its car-like handling, the Vauxhall Combo offers drivers a wide range of safety features, ones that are normally seen on Vauxhall passenger cars.
Drivers get to enjoy a full-height steel bulkhead, electronic stability control, hill start assist and a driver’s airbag.
There’s also emergency brake assist and traction control.
Curtain airbags are an option, as is a passenger airbag.
There’s also an overload monitor fitted which will be useful should the driver exceed, or come close to reaching, the permissible payload weight for the Combo.
Another option is the Safety Pack which adds speed limit recognition, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert. It is certainly worth considering.
The Combo also features electric windows, electric heated door mirrors, while other trims feature body-coloured bumpers, air-conditioning and cruise control.
The range-topper is the LE Nav which features alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen for the satnav and it’s a more stylish offering with a body-coloured trim.
Some owners may decide to invest in the Parking Pack that adds a nearside camera to cover the van’s blind spot, a rear camera and rear and front parking sensors.
Around town, the Vauxhall Combo is a nimble and agile performer, and it’s refined at motorway speeds.
The five-speed manual box is a good performer too and there’s enough sound insulation to exclude the road noise.
The 1.5-litre diesel unit has great performance, and the petrol engine delivers good responses but needs to be worked slightly harder when the van is fully loaded.
The suspension helps with the comfortable ride, and the steering is light enough to make low speed driving enjoyable.
For better grip, the Combo Cargo 4×4 delivers great performance, though the raised suspension does mean the ride is a little bit harsher but the grip on slippery and wet services is impressive.