The new Opel Combo Life
The new Opel Combo Life

Caroline drives the new Opel Combo Life.

The new Opel Combo Life solves that problem of needing to carry a lot of people, and needing to do it in the cheapest way possible. Available as a five or seven seat vehicle, in two different lengths, with pricing starting from just €21,800, the Opel Combo Life could be the bargain of the century.

In fact the Opel Combo Life has just won ‘Best Buy Car of Europe 2019’ at the authoritative Autobest awards. So the secret might be out already. But here’s what I thought of the Combo Life from an Irish perspective.

What is the Opel Combo Life?

While the Opel Combo Van has been sold for many years (this is actually its fifth generation), the Combo Life passenger vehicle is a new model for the Opel brand. Space, practicality, versatility and value are its key attributes in the market. To that end, the Combo Life is available in a standard length with five or seven seats or as a longer ‘XL’ model with seven seats.

The van DNA runs strong in the styling of the Opel Combo Life in that it’s boxy to maximise space, with plenty of squared off edges. But at the front it has the typical look of an Opel about it with a large front grille with two chrome wings around the Opel Blitz insignia. Style icon it is not, but at this price do you care?

The Opel Combo Life goes on sale in Ireland priced from €21,800
The Opel Combo Life goes on sale in Ireland priced from €21,800

How practical is the Opel Combo Life?

The van-like proportions and design of the Opel Combo Life make it an excellent people carrier. There is plenty of glazing and the large doors and high roof also give an airy, spacious feel to the cabin. There are also proper opening windows in the rear.

Access to the rear seats is through two sliding doors that open and close easily. I was driving a seven seat version of the standard length vehicle (from €23,800). There is excellent headroom all round and loads of legroom for passengers in row 2, with Isofix child seat brackets available. The seats split fold and are really easy to fold flat. Access to row 3 is simple enough, though there is not much legroom back there in the standard length vehicle so these two extra seats are more suitable for children or occasional use.

When the seats in row 3 are folded into the boot floor, you have a massive 597 litres of space in the standard length vehicle or 850 litres in the XL version. The boot opens wide, with a large square opening making it easy to load and stack to the roof should you need it!

Considering the Combo Life’s roots, the cabin is surprisingly well-appointed. It’s a straightforward Opel cabin that actually works really well here. The plastics are all hard but the quality looks fine. There are satin chrome accents on the steering wheel, on the door handles and in the air vents. The ergonomics are good with a steering wheel and instrument cluster that could have been lifted from an Astra or Grandland X. A smart 8” touchscreen comes as standard in the centre of the dash with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are numerous storage areas of different sizes that should also prove useful for a family on the move.

The interior of the new Opel Combo Life
The interior of the new Opel Combo Life

Is it well-equipped?

In Ireland the Opel Combo Life is sold in just one trim level called Energy. There’s a good spec including the 8” colour touchscreen, 16” alloys, rain sensitive windscreen wipers, front fog lights, automatic high beam assist, heated and electric door mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, electric front windows, 60/40 split folding rear seats, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, speed sign recognition, forward collision alert, emergency brake assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, automatic lighting control, driver drowsiness system, blind spot alert, and front and rear parking sensors.

There are also a number of options available for more comfort and convenience including reversing camera as part of the Parking Pack (€500), Winter Pack including heated seats and steering wheel (€250), head-up display (€455), and a Child Pack (€300) including rear-view child-minder mirror, rear side window sunblind, fold-flat passenger seat and a luggage restraint net.

Driving the Opel Combo Life

The fifth-generation Combo is based on a new architecture shared with the Peugeot Rifter and Citroen Berlingo, stablemates at the PSA Group that took over Opel in 2017. The Combo Life is naturally not the last word in sophistication and refinement on the road, but it’s pleasant to drive for what it is. It’s comfortable and stable and not too noisy on the move. In fact, there is more of an MPV feeling behind the wheel than a van one.

The Opel Combo Life is available in two lengths, with five or seven seats
The Opel Combo Life is available in two lengths, with five or seven seats

Engine options include a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 110hp and a 6 speed manual (from €21,800), a 1.5 litre diesel with 100hp and 5 speed manual (from €23,050) and the same engine with 130hp and an 8 speed automatic gearbox (from €25,350). The seven seat standard length Combo Life is available with the 1.5 diesel, priced from €23,800. The Energy XL 1.5 diesel seven seat vehicle is available from €24,675.

My test car has the 1.5 litre 100hp diesel and it’s adequate for the Combo Life. It only gets noisy when you really put your foot down hard – other than that it settles into the background. It’s not the speediest mover with a 0-100 kmh figure of 13.1 seconds, but it does the job. My fuel consumption over a few days of driving averaged at 5.8 l/100km and it is only €200 to tax per year.

What’s the verdict?

It’s easy to approach the Opel Combo Life with a sprinkle of cynicism. But if you look beyond the boxy looks and are willing to sacrifice style, the Opel Combo Life is a spacious and straightforward people carrier. Opel Ireland is offering a simple range here with just one well-specced trim level available from just €21,800 as a five seat, or €23,800 as a seven seat.

The Opel Combo Life is neither exciting nor sexy, but it’s a good value seven seat MPV with impressive comfort, practicality and driver assistance and safety features.

The Opel Combo Life is a good value, practical people carrier
The Opel Combo Life is a good value, practical people carrier

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Opel Combo Life Energy 1.5 Turbo D 7-seat
€23,800 (Range from €21,800)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Torque: 250Nm
13.1 seconds
Top speed: 172km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax: 
€200 per year