A VALUE COMBO (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 56
With their third generation Combo, Vauxhall finally delivered us a really space-efficient compact van, with both short and long wheelbase bodystyles that together aimed to satisfy almost every buyer in this segment. With frugal running costs, smart design and unbeaten practicality from this Fiat Doblo-based design, it's everything a small LCV from this era should be.
Modelsword count: 7
Compact van (1.3, 1.6, 2.0 CDTi diesel)
Historyword count: 108
It was Vauxhall who originally came up with the idea of taking a small car platform, then building a properly shaped loadspace cube upon it. Thanks the company's Combo van for that, which originated in its first two generations of life based on a Corsa supermini. That chassis was somewhat restrictive in terms of total space, so for the third generation Combo van, launched in 2011, Vauxhall/Opel borrowed the platform from a Fiat Doblo cargo. The resulting design was offered in both short and long wheelbase form to please both cityvan and compact van customers. It sold until 2018, when a fourth generation PSA Group design was launched.
What You Getword count: 681
This third generation Combo has a very different look to its predecessors. Of course it does you might think: it's a significantly bigger vehicle. True enough, but looking over the smart but practical shape, you're still left with the nagging feeling that there's nothing especially Vauxhall-like about this design, aside from the huge Griffin logo on the front grille. Maybe though that too is much as you would expect were you to be made aware that this is essentially a Vauxhall version of Fiat's Doblo Cargo from this era. Like its Italian design stablemate, this model's front end is dominated by a huge pair of clear glass headlamps, here incorporating daytime running lights. It's all very smartly done. Our only issue is a practical one: that placing directional indicators in the large door mirrors is going to make them much pricier to replace when, inevitably, you bash one on a tight city street. The Fiat design influence is even more keenly felt inside. Aside from the Vauxhall steering wheel, nearly all of the switchgear and instrumentation is Fiat-sourced. Which these days is no bad thing, all the knobs and buttons seeming to be of decent quality and falling easily to hand. The piano black finish around the stereo may well scratch easily though. It's certainly a practical cabin with a large lockable glove box, several cubbies in the dash and large door pockets with enough room for half-litre bottles and A4 clipboards. Go for a better trimmed or a high roof model and there's overhead storage as well. As expected, it's all very car-like. Ahead of you, there's a steering wheel that adjusts for both reach and rake. And you sit very comfortably, especially if you've got the plush Comfort seat with its height and lumbar adjustment as well as a built-in armrest. A place to do business. For potential Combo buyers, the practical facts make compulsive reading. No other rival from this era can better this Vauxhall's maximum potential carriage capacity of up to 4.2m3. And none has a longer wheelbase, a bigger potential payload, a bigger rear axle load, a longer maximum load length or a higher maximum load height. As a buyer, you choose between three main bodyshapes. The 'L1' short wheelbase model standard roof model with its 3.4m3 capacity. The same vehicle with the higher 'H2' roof height that raises load volume to 4.0m3. And the 'L2' long wheelbase low roof model that can offer up to 4.2m3. Rivals like Ford's Transit Connect and Citroen's Berlingo from this era must use extra-cost and inconvenient fold-flat front passenger seat arrangements to even approach these kinds of figures. So it all sounds good on paper. But how will it be in practice? Well first impressions at the business end are good. Most operators will want a version fitted with asymmetrically-split rear doors. Pull them back and you'll find an opening large enough to deal with most of what you'll need to carry, with a rear door width of 1,231mm and a rear door height of 1,250mm (or 1,455mm in the high roof version). Getting heavy stuff in shouldn't be too difficult either, thanks to a relatively low 545mm loading lip height made possible by the compact Bi-link suspension. Once your load is inside, you'll find a cargo bay width of 1,714mm, which narrows to 1,230mm between the wheel arches. Easily enough to slide in the usual Europallet. The height of the load area is 1305mm in a standard roof model, but it can be as much as 1,550mm in the high roof 'H2' variant. The load bay length in the standard model is 1,820mm. For long wheelbase Combo models, load length is up to 2,170mm. If all of this space encourages you to carry heftier items, then you'll be glad to hear that this generation Combo can carry heavy payloads - anything between 750 and 1,000kgs, depending on the model you choose. Most buyers will want to get a model with a sliding side door. This gives you an aperture width if 700mm and an aperture height of 1,175mm.