Bearing in mind that Fiat has marketed the XL, a long-wheelbase, high roof version of its Doblo Cargo, the van on which the Combo is based, since 2012, Vauxhall took its time in introducing an equivalent version of its own light van at the start of the year.
Like the Fiat original, the Combo L2H2 is not likely to win any beauty contests but with a 1.0-tonne payload and 5.0m3 load space it makes a more compelling case when it comes to practicality.
The 1.6CDTi 105hp Combo L2H2 we drove came with a six-speed manual gearbox linked up with a start/stop system that works much more efficiently than many we have come across, which was a bonus because most of our time with the van was spent driving urban routes.
The gear change is also impressively slick and the much-praised bi-link independent rear suspension system contributes to more than respectable ride and handling with little body roll despite the high roof while the steering provides decent feedback. The 105hp engine with maximum torque of 290Nm copes well with steep hills and motorways and gives the impression it would remain unruffled even with a full weight in the back.
Inside the cab storage space is reasonably generous with an overhead compartment, lockable glove box, a couple of cup holders and bins in the doors.
Our entry-level Combo van was quite well specced but it should be noted that a fair amount of this kit is to be found on the option list, such as air-conditioning (£590,00), rear parking sensors (£195,00) and an audio system featuring CD, radio, Bluetooth, aux-in socket/USB connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls (£485,00).
Underneath the passenger seat's cushion is a shallow compartment that looks just the place to conceal a tablet computer or smart phone from prying eyes. This costs an additional £25,00. An armrest and lumbar support with the height adjustable driver’s seat came for an extra £65.00.
The van we tested included ESP but, regretfully, this is a £375,000 option rather than a standard fit on the Combo. All prices listed here exclude VAT.
Reach and rake adjustable front seats and a reach and rake adjustable steering column facilitate finding the best driving position and overall the quality of materials and standard of fit and finish in the cab are good.
The load area is accessed by unglazed asymmetric rear doors, which can be pushed through to 180 degrees, and both near- and offside sliding doors. Six tie-down points are provided to secure loads.
The high-roofed version is a practical and reasonably refined light van and a useful addition to the Combo line-up.