25 March 2024
Opel Combo-e Life Review – Family Friendly Practicality

The Opel Combo-e Life combines the best of both worlds; a practical family hauler and room to spare for prospective cargo needs. 

The Opel range in Singapore is pretty complete for the most part. For smaller families, the Mokka-e is zippy around town, and the bigger van-like Zafira-e is catered to the business executive folk.

But, what if you were someone who wanted a practical family vehicle, but needed extra room for your day-to-day business dealings? That’s where the new Opel Combo-e Life steps in.

Based on the same shared Stellantis platform with vehicles like the Citroen e-Berlingo, the Combo-e Life is pretty much identical to what we got in the Combo-e, albeit now with room for activities in the rear.

So what’s it like zipping around town in this family-focused MPV EV? 

Simple and Honest

As far as vans go, the Opel Combo-e Life is pretty good to look at. The van-esque proportions are broken up by rear passenger windows that offer copious amounts of light into the cabin, giving it an airy ambience.

Rear sliding doors are also handy when loading humans or cargo in tight spaces.

16-inch rims give the Combo-e Life some added character, as opposed to traditional vans with steelies or rim covers.  

Another thoughtful design quirk is the rear hatch, which has a two-stage opening mechanism. This is extremely handy when parked up in tight spaces, allowing you to still access the rear cargo area.

Simple and functional. That’s what the Combo-e Life truly shines in.

Van-like Practicality

Some might gawk at the thought that the Opel Combo-e Life is based on a van platform, but these claims are quickly dismissed the moment they step foot into the cabin.

Despite the van-like feel created by the upright position and expansive windows, visibility in all directions is excellent.

The Combo-e Life mirrors its Opel Combo-e counterpart, featuring an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with built-in sat-nav for added convenience.

Mounted atop the dashboard, the screen ensures that your eyes need not wander far from the road. The digital display also presents electric car-specific energy readouts clearly and understandably. The gear selector and major controls are conveniently placed, and dashboard controls are straightforward to navigate.

The Combo-e Life doesn’t skimp on creature comforts either. It offers great air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and start, parking sensors with a reversing camera for tight spots, automatic headlights, and a multi-function steering wheel, creating an appealing package of features.

While the exterior may resemble a van, the interior leans more towards a family car. The cabin emanates durability, with materials that are hard-wearing rather than overtly luxurious, fitting for its roles of cargo transport and enduring family life.

There’s an abundance of headroom both front and back. Rear legroom is generous, and both outer rear seats come with Isofix mounting points for child seats. The additional third-row seats can be folded down or removed entirely, ensuring no complaints about space, regardless of seating row.

The car’s sliding rear doors are a practical touch, particularly in confined parking spaces. They’re manually operated, similar to a van’s side door.

Stowage space is plentiful, especially in the front, and the cupholder atop the dashboard is a convenient addition that doesn’t obstruct the view of the road.

As for boot space, there’s plenty of it, with a square shape and a wide aperture that matches the width of the boot floor, along with no lip at the entrance.

The only drawback is the large tailgate, which requires ample clearance behind the car to open and can be awkward to close manually. Nevertheless, the aforementioned split hatch allows for opening the glass instead of the entire tailgate when loading smaller items.

Silent Efficiency

The Opel Combo-e Life surges ahead with 134bhp and 260Nm of torque, ready at the slightest tap of the accelerator. When unladen, this van can dash from 0 to 100km/h in a brisk 10.4 seconds.

Sharing its electric motor and battery pack with the Citroën e-C4, the Combo-e Life may not match the Citroën’s speed due to its shape and weight. However, it feels faster than its conventional powered counterparts thanks to the instantaneous power delivery.

Despite its size and shape, wind and road noise are impressively contained at higher speeds. At speeds over 100km/h, you may notice a slight electric motor whine, and at lower speeds, some suspension thudding can be heard.

Not many expect an MPV to be exhilarating to drive, and in this regard, the Combo-e Life stays true to form. Designed more for practicality than excitement, with its van-like dimensions and a range of efficiency-focused engines, it’s not meant to thrill.

There’s noticeable body lean through quick corners due to its height, despite the heavy batteries keeping the weight low. The steering, while accurate enough, has minimal feedback which feels light and disconnected. This doesn’t incite confidence when pushed to the limit.

Still, steering feels light in town, a blessing when navigating tight streets.

Drive the Combo-e Life within its comfort zone, and it rewards you with a smooth and relaxed ride, especially noticeable on long journeys and expressways. It also handles potholes and speed bumps in town with composure, coping well with sharper intrusions at higher speeds.

The brakes feel strong, and the Opel Combo-e Life offers two levels of regenerative braking; in the strongest setting, you’ll slow down more quickly after lifting off the accelerator, allowing for one-pedal driving most of the time.

For businesses, practicality often hinges on minimal downtime, making charge times crucial. The Combo-e Life’s ability to take a 100kW charge from a rapid charging station is great for real-world usability. A suitable DC charging station can provide up to 80% battery capacity in just 30 minutes, compared to a 7.4kW AC wall box charger, which takes 7.5 hours for a full charge.

Range is also decent, with official figures suggesting the Combo-e can travel up to 293km between charges. In practice, I managed around 240km, respectable given our climate, where the AC and battery cooling systems work hard to maintain optimal conditions.

Go-Anywhere, Do-everything

The Opel Combo-e Life in essence is a practical minivan that offers capacious amounts of cabin space and comfortable seating for a party of seven.

Being able to seat seven in an EV isn’t that common in the market today. If you are a prospective customer who can look past the van-based styling, then you’ll really appreciate just how well-suited the Combo-e Life is as an affordable family-friendly, do-everything MPV.

As they say, the simple designs are indeed the best.

Technical Specifications

Opel Combo-e Life Electric

Engine: Single Electric Motor
Power: 100kW (134bhp)
Torque: 260Nm
Gearbox: Single-Speed (A)
0-100km/h: 10.4 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 130km/h
Battery Capacity: 50 kWh
Drive Range: 293 km (claimed)
Energy Consumption: 5.2 km/kWh (claimed)

Price: S$168,500 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Opel Singapore 

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

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