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New Combo is big on space but missing a familiar face
Vauxhall has stamped its own look on the Combo with its own grille. Based on the Fiat Doblo, the unusual styling might not appeal to everyone, but what certainly will is the highly usable 3.4 cu m cargo area

 

Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi 90PS

Van test review: DAVID WILKINS

What is it?

The latest Vauxhall Combo marks quite a change from its predecessor. The old model was based on the last-generation Vauxhall Corsa, and has been a familiar sight on UK roads for over a decade, but for the new one, Vauxhall has decided to rebadge Fiat’s visually distinctive Doblo van rather than adapt the current Corsa or Astra. The result is a much more functional van for tradesmen and van operators.

There are some elements of continuity, though; the old Combo used some Fiat-based diesel engines, the result of a long-standing agreement between the Italian company and Vauxhall’s parent GM, so the 1.3-litre CDTi engine fitted to our test vehicle will already be familiar to many drivers of the old model. The price of the Vauxhall Combo tested here is £14,708 + VAT.

What’s hot?

  • Combo prices start at £14,708.33 (excluding VAT) on the road
  • Engines include four diesels, ranging from a 1.3CDTi (90PS) to a 2.0-litre 135PS CDTi; there’s also a new 95PS 1.4-litre petrol
  • The Combo has a roomy, comfortable driver’s cab; noise levels are low and ride comfort is good, making for a pleasant working environment
  • Two trim levels are available, Combo and Sportive
  • Basic models offer a driver’s airbag, an immobiliser, a CD player/radio with four speakers, an adjustable steering column, electric windows and a 12V socket
  • Sportive models also have air conditioning, body-colour bumpers and door mirrors and metallic paint
  • All Combos get unglazed asymmetric rear doors, a full steel bulkhead (sound-proofed on the Sportive) and load area lashing eyes – Sportives also have a PVC load area floor cover
  • Several body styles are offered – all get a nearside sliding door, and an offside sliding door is also available
  • Generous 3.4 cubic metre load capacity
  • Our entry-level 1.3-litre diesel test vehicle scores well on CO2 emissions (133g/km), fuel consumption (56.5mpg combined cycle) and has low insurance (Group 3E)
  • An optional Driver Pack costs a steep £660 but offers a long list of useful comfort and convenience items such as a leather steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and a preinstalled bracket for a TomTom sat-nav
New Vauxhall Combo
The 1.3 diesel we tested is economical; ideal if your requirements are for lighter loads. If your needs are for a heavier payload, try the 2.0 diesel

 

What’s not?

  • The least powerful diesel, the 90 horsepower 1.3CDTi tested here, is a smooth, effective and economical performer when the Combo is empty but felt as though it might wilt a bit under a full load – depending on your business, you might want to upgrade to the bigger diesel
  • Although Vauxhall has tried to stamp its own look on the Combo by applying its own grille, not everyone may be able to get on with this van’s unusual Fiat Doblo-based styling, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Builder’s or otherwise…
  • While equipment levels are mostly quite generous, one or two important features are still extra-cost options – for example ESP with hill start costs £375
Vauxhall Combo van load area
Load capacity is generous at 3.4 cu m. Payload is 750kg

 

Business Vans Verdict

The new Combo, a Turkish-built, rebadged Fiat Doblo van is quite different from the old car-based model but scores heavily with its big, boxy, easily accessible load area and pleasant driving environment. The main reservations concern the controversial Doblo-based looks and how the entry-level diesel would cope with a big load – although there are plenty of other engine options if you need extra grunt. What can’t be denied is the high level of practical usable space that makes the Combo a much better partner for your business than the previous model.

 

Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi 90PS – the low-down

On the road price: £ 14,708.33 (ex-VAT)
Benefit in kind 2011/12 to 2013/14: £3,000, £3,000, £3,000
Load length: 1,820mm
Load width: 1,714mm
Load height: 1,305mm
Load capacity: 3.4 cu m
Payload: 750kg
GVW: 2,020kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked: 1,000kg/450kg
Engine: 1.3 four-cylinder diesel
Power/Torque: 90PS/200Nm
Economy: 56.5mpg
CO2 Emissions: 133g/km

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