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Vauxhall Combo Crew Van packs in crew and cargo
It’s versatile, quick and comfortable – and because of those unglazed side doors, you can reclaim the VAT

 

Combo L2H1 Crew Van 2300 1.6CDTi Start/Stop (105hp)

What is it?

With more and more SME businesses recognising the benefit of using crew vans, it makes sense for Vauxhall to introduce this five-seat version of the popular Combo.

The Comb Crew Van can carry the driver plus four crew, but with unglazed rear side doors. it retains its van classification, allowing VAT-registered tradesmen and SMEs to reclaim the tax.

Vauxhall Combo can pack crew and cargo
The unglazed side doors provide access to the rear seats or cargo access when the full load area is in use

As with the Combo Van, the Crew Van version comes in long- and short-wheelbase lengths, powered by a 1.3-litre 90hp diesel – which is available with or without ecoFLEX technology including Stop/Start – or a 1.6-litre 105hp engine with Start/Stop included.

Business Vans recently got behind the wheel of the more powerful 1.6-litre model in long-wheelbase form.

If you’re familiar with the conventional Combo (or even the Fiat Doblo, on which it’s based), the cab will hold no surprises.

It packs a generous level of standard equipment in a user-friendly, comfortable space. And the extra row of seats behind adds to the feeling of spaciousness.

Driving position and driver comfort is good, but how do the paseengers in the rear seats fare?

Pretty good, I’d say. It doesn’t feel cramped in the back, although with a burly crew on board, the centre-seat passenger might feel a little confined.

We weren’t able to drive the Combo Crew Van with a load or even a full complement of passengers.

But it’s safe to say that the 1.6-litre engine is more than up to the job of hauling the full 800kg payload. With 290Nm of torque, it pulls doggedly and fairly sparkles when there’s no significant load on board.

This torquey power unit, coupled with the six-speed gearbox, will perform well whether out on the open road or around town. And the stop/start function is so effective you barely notice its operation.

As a bonus, the Combo also rides and handles well, even unladen.

Vauxhall Combo can pack crew and cargo
If it’s flexible cargo/crew carrying you need, then the Combo’s versatile seat configurations provide an ideal solution

But it’s flexibility where the Crew Van really shows its worth. If you don’t need to carry additional crew, the extra seating can be folded forward, freeing up the full load area.

The seating splits to allow one or two extra passengers to be carried, making full use of the available loadspace depending on your crew-carrying requirements.

With the seats folded, the load length 1750mm. This compares with 2170mm for the panel van version. Standard roof models provide a load height of 1,305mm and maximum load width is 1714mm. This reduces to 1230mm between the wheel boxes but still gives room for a Euro pallet.

Vauxhall Combo can pack crew and cargo
It’s a comfortable, well equipped cab, and the extra seats make it feel even better

Access to the load area is also easy – the assymetrical rear doors open to 180 degrees and the twin side doors also prove useful when the full cargo space is in use.

A fixed, full-height-and-width ladder-frame bulkhead is available as a free option. This allows the load area to be stacked to the roof, with a 1.9cu m payload plus full crew. Four floor load-securing rings are provided.

Combo’s service interval was increased in March to two years or 21,000 miles (18,000 miles for petrol variants) or oil life quality monitor warning, whichever comes sooner.

According to Vauxhall, demand is such that a Combo Glazed Crew Van will be available with a tailgate window and glazed second row doors. VAT will not be recoverable on this version.

Vauxhall Combo can pack crew and cargo
Access to the load area is easy – the assymetrical rear doors open to 180 degrees with a load floor height of 545mm

 

What’s hot?

  • Easy-to-operate seats with ‘fold-and-tumble’ facility and 60/40 split seat back and cushion offers versatile use of space
  • Very well speced, including anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD),  remote control central deadlocking, and electronic engine deadlock immobiliser

 

What’s not

  • We still have reservations about the styling: it’s not going to appeal to everyone
  • Aircon is a £590 optional extra which you’ll need if you regularly use the rear seats
  • Even with rear seats folded, the load length is reduced over the panel van variant – but only by 420mm

 

Business Vans verdict

If you’re looking for the flexibility a five-seat crew van offer, then there’s nothing to touch the Vauxhall Combo in this sector. Some will find the styling less than appealing, but that’s clearly outweighed by the Combo’s sheer practical versatility.

What you need to know

On the road price (as tested)£17,448.33
Load length (max/min)1750mm/1341mm
Load width (max)1714mm
Load height1305mm
Load capacity (max, seats up)1.9cu m
Payload800kg
GVW1310kg
Towing capacity braked/unbraked1300kg/500kg
Engine1.6-litre, 4-cyl diesel
Power/Torque105hp/290Nm
Economy (combined)52.3mpg
CO2 emissions141g/km

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