SO here it is: the all-new Vauxhall Combo. And here’s our first drive in Vauxhall’s small trades van sized Combo.
It’s been built with Vauxhall’s new owners, PSA Group, but while each van (Combo, Berlingo, Partner) share the same basic architecture, each brand’s approach – Vauxhall, Citroen, Peugeot – is very different.
And what really stands out on the new Combo is the FlexCargo option.
This is a marvellously clever way of extending the Combo’s carrying length. To over 3m. It means you can carry your ladders securely within your van; carry a 3m length of wood; and so on.
It does this via a three bench seat which is standard with the FlexCargo option (£510 + VAT). Remove the panel between the bulkhead and passenger compartment. Then fold down the passenger side seat back; a large bag clips over the seat back to provide security within the driving compartment and rests on the seatback to secure the pushed through load; then long items can then be fed through to extend the van’s carrying capacity.
We’ve seen this before, of course, on the Vivaro. But the Vivaro’s FlexCargo is a mouse trap compared to this trap door in the Combo.
There’s more. If you don’t wish to use the load length extension, then the seat base folds up to give you additional capacity to carry a large box.
The middle seat of the bench can be used for an additional passenger (yes, bit of a squeeze, but…) or can be used as a desk for you tablet, laptop and so on.
So don’t order your Combo without this option. It essentially means you can run a more compact van without compromising what you can carry.
Brad Miller, Product Manager for Combo, admitted that Vauxhall has probably understimated demand for FlexCargo. “A lot of the Combos we have ordered for our retailers are fitted witht the FlexCargo option. It’s a fantastically useful option; and we’ve probably underestimated how popular it will be.”
The Combo we drove was fitted with Vauxhall’s 1.6 turbo diesel engine. This will eventually be replaced next year by a 1.5 turbo diesel. It was the mid-spec Sportive model.
Why would you want to drive a Vauxhall Combo?
- It’s so much better than the old Combo. The seating position is higher, providing a better view; it also makes new Combo much easier to get in and out of.
- There’s good quality plastics on the dash and interior that feel solid and durable.
- The Combo handles tidily and rides smoothly – but with a load on board smooths out even more. It’s very impressive and comfortable
- Gearchange on the five-speed box is slick and acceleration smooth with good firm stopping power from the brakes
- Access to the load bay is excellent; there’s a standard sliding side door and the rear twin doors can be opened 180 degrees
- The cargo area can take two euro pallets even on the standard wheelbase model; these can be loaded via a forklift truck
- A vinyl floor covering provides additional protection for just £60+ VAT
- FlexCargo is simple to deploy and provides brilliant flexibility
What might put you off a Vauxhall Combo?
- There is an irritating vibration from the engine and just below 2000rpm
- While the cabin compartment has plenty of cubby holes, they all feel a bit haphazard – especially the compartment behind the touchscreen; and the various blanks
- The engine really needs six gears for motorway travel
- Some of the key options, such as the brilliant sensor based load indicator and rear view camera, don’t arrive until 2019
Verdict on the Vauxhall Combo Sportive
The new Vauxhall Combo is a revelation in so many ways. It’s so much better than its predecessor; it’s ability to carry loads is fantastic; and the FlexCargo option surely is a must for any trade person – there’s not only the flexibility it offers, but the security of not having to carry ladders and so on via a roof rack.
Vauxhall reckons the new Combo will rival the Ford Transit Connect for sales. Does the new Combo have the pizzazz of a Transit Connect? No, we don’t think so, despite being much more car-like to drive.
But what new Combo does offer builders, plumbers, electricians, window cleaners and the like is a superbly flexible van that allows them to drive a small van without sacrificing flexbility. Which also means reduced operating costs.
It really is the small van that acts big.
Vauxhall Combo Sportive L1H1 2000 1.6 100PS TurboDiesel
On the road price ex-VAT £18,593.33 (inc number plates, 1st reg fee, VED)
Load length 1781 mm (3090mm with FlexCargo)
Load width (max) 1630mm
Load height 236mm
Load capacity 3.3cu m
Towing capacity braked/unbraked 600/1200kg
Engine 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
Economy (combined) 65.6mpg
CO2 emissions 111g/km
Options on the Combo Sportive we drove (ex VAT)
- FlexCargo Pack: £510.00
- Safety Pack: £570.00
- Vinyl load floor covering: £60.00
- Touchscreen infotainment / Navigation system: £700.00
- 230-volt electrical accessory socket: £100.00
- Spare Wheel: no-cost option
- Winter Pack: £150.00
- Parking Pack: £700.00
Vauxhall Combo specification highlights
Edition from £15,630 excl. VAT: The Combo Edition features a four-way adjustable driver seat and a passenger seat with practical under-seat storage. In addition to 15-inch wheels with a centre cover and a fixed steel bulkhead, a nearside sliding door and overhead storage allow for easy loading. A five-inch display radio with Bluetooth and DAB, one-touch windows and electric and heated exterior mirrors complete the package.
Sportive from £17,705 excl. VAT: In addition to the benefits of Edition, the Combo Sportive features a six-way driver seat with adjustable lumbar support, centre armrest and storage, as well as a four-way passenger seat. Larger 16-inch wheels with a full cover and air conditioning create a premium feel. Metallic paint and front and rear body-colour bumpers allow drivers to customise the appearance of their van. The Combo Sportive is fitted with Rear Parking Sensors, Cruise Control (with speed limiter) and an alarm to improve security.
LE NAV from £18,905 excl. VAT: Building on the features of Sportive, the Combo LE NAV is available with body colour exterior mirrors, exterior door handles, side protection mouldings and front bumper with skid plate. Also included are 16-inch alloy wheels and an eight-inch touchscreen with NAVI.
Crew Van from £18,605 excl. VAT: The Combo Crewvan is fitted with a fold-flat passenger seat, as well as an innovative two-position caged bulkhead that moves forward when the second row seats are folded down. A protective bag is included to prevent damage to the interior and dashboard that may be caused by longer loads.