Tested: Opel's Combo Life deserves a lot more attention from car buyers

By Willem Van De Putte Time of article published Jun 10, 2020

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Johannesburg - Sometimes we test cars that at first sight look very ordinary and others that take your breath away and have people posing for Instagram posts whenever you stop.

The Opel Combo Life is not such a vehicle.

However, having spent a week driving one, it should be.

Not because it hits the looks department out the stadium, but purely because of its no nonsense spacious practicality and willingness to please.

It's after driving a car such as the Combo Life, that you want to put out an alert to all prospective car buyers to think a little beyond the confines of their imagination and look for something other than the usual fare and be a little less brand conscious.

Yes it's a box on wheels and no you're not going to get the attention of the latest and hottest trending social media "in people" but you will thank yourself for being sensible this time.

When I slid behind the wheel of the car it also happened to be the day that the ban on alcohol was lifted. A friend had asked me whether I was able to help him stock-up because he was tied up in site meetings trying to get his business up and running again during the first two stages of lockdown.

If the queues weren't crazy I agreed to help a friend in need, as it were.

Twitter was awash with comments and pictures of queues winding around the block so I didn't hold out much hope. As luck would have it though, at one mall there were fewer people at the liquor outlet than at the KFC drive through and truth be told I was inside longer than I was in the queue.

I unloaded the trolley into the boot with its wide opening tailgate without making a dent in the 850 litres of space and would probably have to be a tavern owner to do so.

With the rear seats folded down it increases space to 2 126 litres.Take that. Ideal for transporting bulky items such as washing machines and dishwashers. 

Thanks to lockdown and working from home, it makes you realise that one more wash-up behind the sink will drive you to liquor. Well, at that stage we weren't allowed to, but you know what I mean. And while we're at it, the washing machine is making a funny noise, see if they can't isolate it.

A  R160 call-out fee per appliance (excluding the quote) was avoided and with its low ground clearance there was no strain loading them. There's not many true MPVs out there competing with that type of convenience.

Fitted with a 1.6 litre turbo diesel engine that pushes out 68kW and 230Nm of torque, and a five speed manual gearbox, I found the Combo to be surprisingly nippy, although there was some turbo lag so you have to get your gear selection right.

Fuel consumption in a combined cycle evened out at 5.6L/100km, not far off Opel's claimed 5L/100km.

Interior space belies the exterior and because it's driven by the front wheels the floor plan is flat, giving it more usable room while making it comfortable for passengers too. There's a myriad of storage nooks and crannies for wallets, keys, cups and loose change.

The dash is dominated by the seven inch touchscreen IntelliLink Infotainment System that's easy to use and navigate. On the tilt and telescopic steering wheel you'll find the audio controls and cruise control buttons.  

The steering is light and provides enough feedback if you drive it more like a car than a small bus which with its low centre of gravity it doesn't mind at all.

I did find the interior dominated by black a little sombre and a few aluminium inserts would have made a big difference to the overall look and feel.

On the flip side, the dual sliding doors are a winner, especially in shopping mall parking lots with their minimum spec parking bay sizes although there was some rattle coming from them driving on a corrugated dirt road.

Safety-wise the Combo Life is fitted with six airbags, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability programme (ESP), traction control and hill-start assist.

It's a pity that there aren't more Opel Life Combos on the road, it's the type of car you want to hitch a trailer to, load the family and camping gear and head into the blue yonder with no specific plan other than to enjoy the sight of the horizon when we're again allowed to.

The Opel Life Combo comes with a 3-year/120 000km warranty and roadside assist and a 3-year/60 000km service plan. Prices start at R389 000.


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