Vauxhall unveiled its Combo-e at the Commercial Vehicle Show in August and, so long as semiconductor supply issues don’t throw a spanner in the works, the compact electric van should arrive in UK showrooms in November.

It won’t be lonely – the model will also be available at about the same time from fellow Stellantis brands Citroen, badged as the e-Berlingo and Peugeot, badged as the e-Partner. Toyota has also joined the party with its own version of the van built on the same platform, the Proace City Electric.

Vauxhall will offer the Combo-e panel van in two trim levels, Dynamic and Sportive, and in two sizes, L1 and L2. All derivatives have a claimed range of 171 miles (WLTP).

The L1 has a payload of 800kg whereas the L2 can carry 750kg. The respective load volumes are 3.3m3 and 3.9m3, but with the optional load-through hatch (standard with Sportive) that runs through the bulkhead underneath the passenger seat, these rise to 3.8m3 and 4.4m3. Vauxhall says both L1 and L2 derivatives can tow loads of up to 750kg. 

The L1 comes with rear doors and a nearside sliding loading door while the L2 is equipped with sliding doors on both sides.

Vauxhall expects the more compact L1 to command two thirds of sales.

The Combo-e is powered by a 50kWh battery and features a single electric motor that can produce up to 100kW (136hp). 

It comes with three drive modes: Power; Normal; Eco. Power is the one to use with a full load in the back as it delivers the full 100kW with 260Nm torque. With up to 80kW (210Nm) on tap, Normal is suitable for most assignments when carrying part-loads and Eco is the one to choose when looking to preserve energy and extend range. It restricts power to 60kW (190Nm) and is a good option when not carrying cargo. 

With a 100kW charger, the Combo-e can be fast-charged to 80% in 30 minutes, but as standard it is fitted with a 7.4kW on-board charger and charging cable, allowing it to be charged via a wallbox in seven hours and 30 minutes. An 11kW on-board charger is available as an extra cost option and brings the charging time down to five hours. 

Starting with Dynamic trim, the Combo-e is equipped with DAB radio, Bluetooth, a USB dock, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, Vauxhall Connect, which alerts emergency services in case of an accident, and rear parking sensors.

Dynamic trim comes with a 5ins touchscreen but Sportive gets an 8ins touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for all forms of smartphone connectivity.

Both Dynamic and Sportive versions get a six-way adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel column adjustable for rake and reach.

According to Vauxhall, the Dynamic has a single passenger seat as standard, whereas the Sportive gets the Flex Cargo Pack with dual-passenger bench seat that accommodates the load-through hatch and centre seat back rest that folds down into a table.

The L1 we tested in left-hand drive came with many of the features assigned to the Sportive, such as an electronic parking brake and the larger touchscreen with satnav (a £550 option  on Combo-e Dynamic, all prices exclude VAT) but did not come with the bench seat (a £612 option). Although this meant there was no load through hatch, this was no great loss in our opinion as, like in so many similar configurations, the middle passenger seat comes with hardly any legroom.

The Combo-e comes with ESP with traction control and also features hill start assist and daytime running lights. Cruise control is included, but if you want adaptive cruise control it’s only offered on Sportive at £250 extra. Both Dynamic and Sportive only get a driver’s airbag, adding a passenger’s airbag costs £120.

The Combo-e in both guises comes with a 10in digital display, giving information about battery charge and range and whether the motor is saving or using power.

A simple to use button enables the driver to select the most suitable driving mode for the task and an equally user-friendly toggle allows them to engage P (park), R (reverse), N (neutral), D (drive) or B for enhanced regenerative braking to make the charge last as long as possible.

This is our preferred setting, when the throttle is released the van automatically brakes, meaning that in most situations there is no need to use the foot brake once the driver gets used to judging the distance between the Combo-e and the vehicle in front. Coupled with the quietness of the ride, it results in a relaxing driving experience.

With the electric motor making the power instantly available, the Combo-e can accelerate swiftly from a standing start, especially in Power mode, so caution is advisable when first making the switch from an internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered van. The battery is housed under the floor of the van and this low centre of gravity helps the Combo-e handle well on winding, extra-urban roads, although a lack of feedback through the lightweight steering detracts from the experience.

In-cab storage is adequate and includes an overhead shelf but otherwise the trays and shelves are shallow and appear ill-equipped to keep hold of items on bumpy roads.

Both trims of the Combo-e get rear-parking distance sensors as standard, but front and rear parking sensors are a £400 option while a rear-view camera comes as a £250 addition.

Stepping up to Surround Rear Vision, which is only available with front and rear parking sensors and front fog lights, costs £500.

A useful head-up display is priced as a £300 extra but is not listed by Vauxhall as an option on the Dynamic.

The Safety Pack, standard on automatic diesel models, which comprises leather-covered steering wheel, front camera system, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, speed sign recognition, driver drowisness system, forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection is an option for £805.

An innovative feature included in the cargo bay of our test van as a £260 addition was the Overload Indicator. By simply pressing a button positioned above the wheel arch it will tell you whether your load is within the van’s legal weight limit.

Vauxhall Combo-e

Price (ex VAT inc PiVG) £25,848

Price range (ex VAT inc PiVG) £25,848-£28,828

Insurance group tbc

Warranty 5yrs/100,000mls (battery 8yrs/100,000mls)

Service intervals 2yr/25,000mls

Load length 1,527mm

Load width (min/max) 1,229/1,630mm

Load bay height 1,236mm

Gross payload 800kg

Load volume 3.3m3

Powertrain 136hp 100kW electric motor 

Range (WLTP) 171mls

CO2 0g/km