With Opel and Vauxhall now under the PSA Group banner, expect to see a whole new look in the coming years and I got a taste if this, as I recently took the wheel of the new Combo Life, the result of a joint venture with Peugeot.
Some months ago, I reported on my first drive with the Peugeot offering- the Rifter. Both vehicles have a similar personality, vehicles which will appeal to the family, a person with an active lifestyle or perhaps even a small business user.
They say that variety is the spice of life and when it comes to motoring, there has never ever been such a choice of vehicles as there is today. I have to admit there is nothing more satisfying than getting behind the wheel of the latest sports model while on the other side of the coin there are motorists out there who are not interested in performance, and would rather a vehicle that majors on practicality.
Allow me to spell out right from the start the Combo Life has been developed firstly as a car.
Built on one of two platforms, the Combo Life is offered as a short wheelbase or a long wheelbase, both versions will be available as either a five seater or a seven seater.
My first taste came at the wheel of a short wheelbase five seater powered by a 1.5 litre turbo Diesel engine with 100PS, there is also a 130PS version and a 1.2 litre 110PS petrol version is also available. No doubt there will be other power units offered.
My test example had a five speed manual transmission and there is the choice of automatic. Perhaps the opportunity will come for us to to try the eight speed auto.
The Combo Life is about space and in this respect it abounds with easy access thanks to side sliding doors and a very generous tailgate. So loading is a breeze, making it the perfect vehicle for a weekend away or a family holiday. Maximum storage for the seven seater is a whopping 2,693 litres while the minimum storage for the five seater short wheelbase is 597 litres. When ordered with a panoramic roof, the Combo Life comes with overhead storage running down the centre of the vehicle with LED lighting as standard. In this configuration, it is also fitted with a large 36 litre storage box mounted above the ‘hat tray’ in the boot. The storage box is ideal for clothes, books or small toys. It can be loaded from the rear when the boot is open or via the optional opening window integrated in the tailgate, and accessed from inside the vehicle via two sliding doors at the front of the box.
Certainly such a vehicle demonstrates yet another emerging sector of the market, so will other manufacturers follow; only time can provide that answer and in a way it makes a welcome change from the current sea of SUVs. Which brings me back to what a diverse market there is, in fact there is a vehicle for every need.
Behind the wheel and the driving position affords great all round vision and that quality extends to all who travel in this newcomer.
When it comes to load carrying, space is generous and there are no fewer than twenty eight cubby holes where you can store all sorts of items, the younger members of the family will most certainly approve.
In this age of technology, no vehicle can sustain popularity if it does not permit its occupants to keep in touch with the outside world and the newcomer has the same level of technology as any car, SUV etc.
Paramount is safety and it comes with the full package, a very child friendly vehicle, the juniors will fully appreciate its many attributes. A choice of trim levels offers even more choice to the buyer. However I can not see this type of vehicle ever having the same level of appeal as the SUV.