New electric Vauxhall Combo-e LIfe revealed

  • Battery-only power for Vauxhall’s van-based small MPV
  • 50kWh battery means a range of 174 miles between charges
  • On sale in autumn 2021, prices yet to be announced

There’s relentless growth in the number of electric cars on sale as manufacturers continue to broaden their portfolios of battery-powered vehicles – the Vauxhall Combo-e Life being one of the latest. 

So, what is the Combo-e Life?

From the Vauxhall’s styling, there’s no escaping that this is a compact van-based people carrier, with its spacious interior kitted out to provide comfortable accommodation for five or seven passengers depending on which one you go for.

Copper 2021 Vauxhall Combo-e Life front three-quarter

Petrol- and diesel-engined versions have been on sale for a couple of years already – the ‘e’ suffix here indicates that it’s a purely electric car, with a 136hp motor up front and a battery pack under the floor to ensure it doesn’t impact on interior space.

With slightly different styling, electric versions of the Vauxhall’s sister cars – the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Rifter – are all set to go on sale simultaneously in the third quarter of 2021 

How far can it go between recharges?

Vauxhall claims that with its 50kWh battery pack, the Combo-e Life can travel up to 174 miles between recharges under WLTP test conditions, which should translate into a real-world distance of around 150 miles.

Using a public rapid charger of 100kW will ensure a flat to full recharge in 30 minutes. While Vauxhall hasn’t yet quoted a figure for charging using a dedicated domestic wallbox, the Vivaro-e Life, which has the same battery pack takes 7 hours, 30 minutes, so fine for overnight replenishment.

Copper 2021 Vauxhall Combo-e Life tailgate badge

Unlike the Vivaro-e Life with its specific charging point integrated into the front wing, the Combo-e Life uses the flap where ordinarily the fuel filler is. It’s neater and more convenient when reversing into parking bays.

Is the Combo-e Life powerful?

How often you need to recharge will depend on a number of factors, not least how you drive it. As with the larger Vivaro-e, different driving modes vary the power on offer. These are selected using the switch next to the e-Toggle gear selector.

Eco delivers 81hp and 180Nm of torque for the longest range, but it’s probably best to save this until your batteries are down to their last few sparks, or whatever the electric equivalent to running on fumes is.

Copper 2021 Vauxhall Combo-e Life rear three-quarter

Normal, where you’ll spend most of your driving time, has 109hp and 210Nm, while Power serves up 136hp and 260Nm for unfettered performance. For reference, the 0-62mph benchmark sprint takes 11.2 seconds – brisk enough, but not the kind of neck-snapping acceleration some electric cars are famed for.

Additionally, the level of brake energy recuperation – where otherwise wasted energy is harvested back into the battery – has two settings.

Left to its own devices there’s a minimal braking effect when you lift off the throttle, but when you press the B – for ‘braking' – button this effect is increased, allowing for potentially long stints of ‘one pedal’ driving where you barely touch the brakes.

What else is different about the Combo-e Life?

Very little, which is great news for those considering swapping from a more conventional petrol or diesel car. The Vauxhall won’t be that far removed from a regular automatic car.

Based on our experiences with the Vivaro-e Life, expect it to be quiet and refined to drive, making it much more relaxed to be in.

2021 Vauxhall Combo-e Life dashboard

With the batteries being mounted so low within the car’s structure, it should also improve the handling, allowing it to carry more pace through twistier sections of road. Don’t expect it to be fun to drive, though.

There are few external clues to the Vauxhall’s electrical status, with the only internal ones being different instrumentation and the switch-type of gear selector instead of the rotary dials found in other automatic Combos.

What this means for you

For a large number of customers, the Combo-e Life could be the sweet spot in Vauxhall’s entire van-derived car range.

It’s range is ample for many buyers, it’ll be easy to drive and the cavernous interior is flexible for people and their belongings.

Naturally, it will come down to price, and there’s no official word on that yet. Based on the cost differential between mechanically similar Vauxhall Corsa and Corsa-e models, expect the electric Combo to weigh in around £4,000 more than its 130hp petrol siblings.

Parkers will be among the first to drive the electric Vauxhall Combo-e Life, so keep this page bookmarked for the latest news and views.

Further reading

>> We look at the best electric SUVs on sale

>> We rate the best seven-seaters on sale

>> Find out how much your car is worth with Parkers

Copper 2021 Vauxhall Combo-e Life rear three-quarter with boot open