When the ball hits the back of the Old Trafford net, that’s Vialli
With the sales of CV’s post recession, growing like never before it was time for CCV to test the Vauxhall range of commercial vehicles for our readers, beginning with the Combo, a Vauxhall van based on the Fiat Doblo Cargo.
As a Chelsea fan I wasn’t too keen on the location for my drive, which was at Arnold Clark in Stretford, close to Old Trafford football ground, who kindly agreed to let me borrow the Combo for our review.
Under the bonnet, Vauxhall’s Combo is on offer with a choice of four diesel powertrains all of which come complete with Start/Stop and new longer 21,000 mile service intervals. All four diesel engines come with the latest common-rail technology with a turbocharger and a diesel particle filter. Even the 1.3 CDTi (90PS) entry-level diesel engine with a five-speed manual transmission, delivers torque of 200Nm at 1,500rpm. The ecoFLEX version is capable of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of between 57.6mpg and 58.9mpg, or between 126g/km and 129g/km respectively, depending on the body version, trim and roof height.
Next is the 1.6 CDTi (105PS) producing torque of 290Nm at 1,500rpm. This powertrain also passes on the power to the wheels via a six-gear manual transmission. Fuel consumption lies between 51.4mpg and 54.3mpg, equivalent to between 136g/km and 146g/km in CO2 emissions.
Top of the Combo powertrain range is the 2.0 CDTi (135PS), the most powerful engine ever offered in a Combo. It is equipped with a six speed manual transmission which develops a maximum torque of 320Nm at 1,500 rpm. Fuel consumption is 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions are 148g/km.
Also available is a 1.6 CDTi (90PS) unit offered with an automated five-speed transmission called Tecshift. In the case of the Tecshift transmission up to 200Nm at 1,500rpm is available, fuel consumption is between 53.3mpg and 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions are 130g/km to 140 g/km.
Like all vans today, the cabin of the Combo is brimming with practical and user friendly features. The seats are designed with the commercial user in mind who in many cases is likely to spend a large portion of the working day behind the wheel, or needs easy access in and out of the vehicle. The distinctive contours of the seat cushions and backrests of the driver as well as front passenger seats help to maintain a good body posture. Well-proportioned heating and ventilation nozzles contribute to a healthy interior climate.
The layout of the cabin logical and practical, with a number of well-placed and functional storage compartments, including a lockable glovebox, door pockets & space under the passenger seat cushion for an extra £25.
There are two trim levels, Combo and Sportive. The standard kit on Combo includes PAS, an adjustable steering column with both reach and rake, electric front windows, central locking, a driver’s airbag, ABS with EBD, a 12-volt power socket in the dashboard, solid-steel cargo space partition and a tyre repair kit as a full size tyre is a free-of-charge option.
Sportive models combine added driver comfort with a uniquely sporty style that is consistent with other Sportive models on Corsavan, Astravan and Vivaro. Sportive offers the following features over the standard model. Air conditioning, metallic paint, body-colour bumpers and door mirrors, nearside sliding door, driver seat with height adjustment, armrest and lumbar support plus full wheel covers.
Combo in long wheelbase guise (L2) leads several segments in terms of capacity and payload. Depending on the model variant, the vehicle boasts an impressive set of segment leading stats:
Even with its short wheel base (L1), the New Combo offers up to 3.4m3 in space (standard roof/H1) or 4.0m3 (high roof/H2). The maximum load length is 1,820mm. The effective load length of the long wheel base model is 2,170mm and can take up to 4.2m3 of cargo.
The dimensions of the load area makes the transportation of bulky goods a simple task. The width of the load area, if measured between the wheel arches, is 1,230mm. The maximum internal width is 1,714mm. The height of the load area is 1,305mm with a H1 model or 1,550mm in the H2 version. The L1 variants can be fitted with a roof flap, allowing for long items such as ladders, pipes etc.
Another feature of the Combo is the ease of access to the load area. The threshold is just 545mm which makes the loading process easier, as do the asymmetrical back doors. The aperture of the rear door is a width of 1,231mm and a height of 1,250mm (or 1,455mm in the case of the high roof option). Even Euro pallets can be loaded. The tailgate variant is equally user friendly with a width of 1,231mm in its opened state and a height of 1,166mm. If the sliding doors are opened, goods can be comfortably placed inside the bay thanks to a width of 700mm and a height of 1,175mm.
Even in entry level form Combo can handle payloads of 750kg including the driver. However, depending on the engine type, a maximum of 1,000kg is possible. The Combo is also an excellent workhorse and can tow weights of between 1,000kg and 1,500kg.
My test model, the 1.3 CDTi L1H1 Sportive wasn’t quick to get going but once I hit motorway causing speed it was an excellent performer. It certainly benefitted from the full height bulkhead which protects occupants from errant loads & keeps the cabin quiet especially on the motorway. This also means that the cab is faster to warm up during those cold Winter months.
The cabin is quite basic but nonetheless, it’s a very comfortable place to be with the instrumentation & layout familiar and easy to use and to understand. My test model did have air-con as well as an AM/FM radio, but you’d have to pay extra for Bluetooth connectivity & if so desired SatNav, which are fast becoming pre-requisites for those van users who travel greater distances in their work.
In common with most of it’s competitors, the Combo is incredibly easy to drive, almost car-like really, with the 5-speed gear box very smooth & easy to change up or down, which does make for enjoyable as well as relaxing driving, especially around town, where most Combos will be used day to day.
There’s plenty of room in the cab for two six foot plus adults & with useful storage space as well, plenty of places to put your water bottle, newspaper & lunchbox. All of the controls can be easily reached from the drivers seat, always a bonus. I was most impressed with the Combo on the motorway, where despite not having cruise control fitted, it flew along quite happily around the speed limit & was quiet to boot. The load space at the rear, is really user friendly with wide doors making life easier for loading & will even take Euro pallets.
Any negatives ? Well the Fiat Doblo is newer & Combo doesn’t come with ESC, but other than that not really. What you see is what you get & as with all Vauxhalls, as Jeremy Clarkson once said, the only thing faster on British Motorways than a Ferrari, is a white Vauxhall van !
Having driven most of the Combos competition, namely the Kangoo, Citan, Berlingo, Partner, Caddy, Connect & Doblo Cargo, it’s a competitive model in this sector, especially with it’s class leading payload. Vauxhall have worked hard to attract SME’s into their vans & with over 100 main dealers who specialise in Heavy Vans selling Corsa, Combo, Vivaro & Movano, there should be a dealer close to your business making it easier for servicing & repairs if required. Combo is also competitively priced , from £15,503 + vat for the entry level model. Contract hire rates start at £176 per month + vat with 12 payments up front & with Vauxhalls unique four-in-one offer on vans; that’s four years’ 0% APR representative finance, four years’ free servicing up to 80,000 miles, four years’ roadside assistance and four years’ warranty, your business will be very well looked after if you choose a Combo.
A bianconeri 4/5