3.9 out of 5 3.9
Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9

Van-based people carrier focuses on value

Vauxhall Vivaro Life MPV (19 on) - rated 3.9 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £34,495 - £47,105
Lease from new From £349 p/m View lease deals
Used price £17,770 - £33,000
Used monthly cost From £444 per month
Fuel Economy 34.8 - 47.1 mpg
Road tax cost £150 - £475
Insurance group 19 - 26 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Elite trim is packed with kit
  • Easy to drive with light controls
  • You get a lot of metal for your money

CONS

  • Interior isn’t as flexible as it could be
  • Tends to be noisy at higher speeds
  • Ride can be bouncy, especially unladen

Vauxhall Vivaro Life MPV rivals

Written by Keith WR Jones on

Van-based seven-seaters, such as the Vauxhall Vivaro Life, are a consequence of the rapid downturn in popularity of more conventional multi-purpose vehicles – known as MPVs for short.

For Vauxhall itself, selling the flexible and compact Zafira range proved to be a doddle over the first two generations, but the Zafira Tourer’s arrival coincided with the massive growth in consumer appetite for SUVs.

Despite their popularity now, Vauxhall hasn’t offered a seven-seater SUV since the demise of the Isuzu Trooper-based Monterey over two decades ago, but where other manufacturers do sell them, they tend to be less spacious and practical than the MPVs they’ve essentially replaced.

Consequently, there remains a need for larger families – and VIP taxi operators – who need to combine seven adult-sized seats and a generous boot capacity, which is why the Vivaro Life and other commercial vehicle-based MPVs exist.

Incidentally, those of you with longer memories may recall the Vauxhall Albany from the early-1990s – another commercial vehicle-based people carrier, then based on the Midi van.

Familiar looks betray its origins

Previously, the Vivaro van range was a clone of the Renault Trafic, but following Vauxhall’s takeover by PSA – the firm behind Citroen, DS and Peugeot – this new style has been ushered in.

Save for the front bumper, grille, headlight design and badging, the Vivaro Life is essentially a facsimile of its sister vehicles, the Citroen SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveller. Not only that, PSA has a commercial vehicle agreement with Toyota in Europe, meaning the Japanese brand’s Proace Verso is another copy of the same basic design.

Inside the cavernous cabin the four are distinguished by mere detail changes, with virtually all of the components you’ll see and touch originating from PSA.

Diesel engines are also PSA’s well-regarded BlueHDi motors, although Vauxhall’s marketing department has renamed them Turbo D. A fully electric Vivaro-e Life is also available to order – we will cover this in a separate review in due course.

Easy to understand Vivaro Life range

Given the trim level and engine complexities frequently found elsewhere in Vauxhall’s range, the Vivaro Life line-up is reassuringly straightforward.

Edition is the entry-level specification, easily identifiable outside thanks to its black plastic bumpers, side protection mouldings and door handles, as well as steel wheels with a plastic hub cap just covering the centre of each wheel.

As standard it comes with nine seats – a dual front passenger seat plus three-passenger benches in the second and third rows – and is aimed squarely at large families on a budget, businesses that need to ferry workforces around and private hire operators. You still get useful features such as Bluetooth phone connectivity, air conditioning and cruise control, but few other niceties.

Edition models only come with a 120hp 1.5-litre diesel engine, so don’t expect progress to be much more than ponderous – officially the 0-60mph acceleration time is 14.3 seconds – but it is the most economical with claims of up to 47.1mpg.

Edition-spec Vivaro Lifes can be ordered in both of the available sizes: there’s the shorter M (for Medium) and L (unsurprisingly, that’s for Long).

Jumping over £10,000 in asking price is the only other trim level option – Elite. While the Edition is basic, the Elite is positively bristling with kit including three-zone climate control, a glass roof, built-in navigation with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, eight leather seats (with a conventional single front passenger seat), keyless entry, electric side doors, 17-inch alloy wheels… The list goes on.

Mechanically it’s a significant step up, too, with a 2.0-litre diesel engine in a pair of guises. With 150hp and a manual gearbox, the Elite is only available in L length, but with a punchier 180hp version and automatic transmission, both M and L are offered.

Plus, you can opt to have the middle row bench replaced by a couple of individual captain’s chairs that can be installed to fit rearwards, as well as having a pop-up table installed between them.

Focus on comfort could be improved

As we explore later in the review, Vauxhall has focused on comfort rather than sporty handling for the Vivaro Life. While this is an appropriate path to follow, the execution isn’t entirely satisfactory.

When there’s just the driver on board, the Vivaro can prove unsettled on anything but the smoothest of road surfaces and there’s a lot of engine noise that permeates into the passenger compartment.

Overall, it’s a car that’s more appealing as a passenger than a driver, but even then there is room for improvement.

While the Vivaro Life appears to have various boxes ticked that galvanise its appeal, it doesn’t have this corner of the market all to itself.

Not only are those in-house rivals available for very similar money, there are more established alternatives such as the Ford Tourneo Custom and far plusher competitors in the forms of the Mercedes-Benz V-Class and Volkswagen Caravelle. The Vauxhall has to be outstanding to be the default choice.

Read on to find out in the full Parkers Vauxhall Vivaro Life review, or click here to jump straight to our thoughts on its practicalityinteriorrunning costs or driving dynamics and how we rate it.

Vauxhall Vivaro Life MPV rivals