mReview: Opel Combo-e Life 50kWh – Function Over Form

Published by on . Updated on 24 May 2024

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1710494935289 Mreview Opel Combo E Life 50 Kwh Function Over Form Featured

Opel enters the Cat A COE MPV segment with one of the most practical vehicles in class and as an EV to boot. How does it stack up against its rivals?

While the Cat A COE compact SUV segment is one of the most hotly-contested and the electric versions even more so, the Cat A COE MPV segment only consists of six cars, of which only three are EVs. 

What makes that figure most interesting is that of those three Cat A electric MPVs, two are Opels, and one of which is the car in the limelight today, the new Combo-e Life. Judging from its name, it should be no surprise that the Combo-e Life is based on the Combo-e electric van, with the “Life” nomenclature used to distinguish it as the passenger-carrying version.

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Styling-wise, the Combo-e Life still looks largely van-like with its sliding doors, short bonnet, and high roofline. The rear doors have been replaced with a single rear tailgate which give it more of a conventional MPV feel. The exterior remands pretty inoffensive and doesn’t have much in the way of styling, although it does look a lot bigger than it actually is. 

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On the inside, there are three rows of seats to accommodate up to seven passengers instead of cargo in a 2-3-2 formation. Comfort is adequate as the spacious interior is more than enough for all three rows to sit comfortably with enough head and legroom although it should be noted that the middle row seats have zero adjustability in terms of recline or movement. The only option for the seats are raised or folded. 

The upside is that the middle row does fold completely flat which opens up a massive amount of loading space for your cargo-carrying needs. I also realised you can fold the middle-row but leave the third-row up and you would have enough legroom to ferry Shaq and Yao Ming at the same time. 

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Unfortunately, the third row doesn’t fold flat or raise up off the ground like in some other cars. Instead, only the seat back folds down which leaves you with a surface to put stuff on that while flat, is not level with the rest of the cargo area. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1710494993456 D38 V3438 FotorDecent boot space even with all the seats up.

That being said, thanks to its commercial vehicle roots, the Combo-e Life is absolutely in its own class with up to 2,600-litres of cargo capacity. The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, one of the other Cat A MPVs only has 1,455-litres of cargo space at its maximum, more than a thousand litres less than that of the Opel. The Combo-e Life also has copious amounts of interior cubby storage with large door bins, storage compartments behind the instrument cluster and infotainment screen, and a shelf above the windshield. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1710495033778 D38 V3449 FotorA shelf above the windshield for documents and other knick-knacks.

Now of course, where the BMW lacks in overall storage capacity, it does make up for in material quality and vehicle equipment. The same cannot be said, however, for the Combo-e Life. The only power sources in the entire vehicle are a single USB Type-A port and a 12V outlet which seems like an oversight. The interior feels basic and you can’t shake the feeling that the Life is just a Combo-e with some seats thrown in, which to be fair it is, but it doesn’t feel like Opel put much effort into differentiating the passenger Combo-e from the commercial Combo-e. 

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There are some creature comforts to redeem the Combo-e Life though, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is offered as standard and can be managed through the 8-inch touchscreen display in the centre of the car. You also get automatic headlights, windscreen wipers, and a multi-function steering wheel with cruise control. 

You might think that the Combo-e Life with its CV underpinnings would make it drive like a CV and you’d be right it does. The Life is actually a lot smaller than it looks and with its light steering and zippiness from the powertrain, you can zig and zag through traffic with ease whether or not you're carrying people or cargo. Parking is also a non-issue as it doesn’t take up the lot's entire length or width. 

The biggest issue with the Combo-e Life is its battery size. At just 50kWh, it has the fourth smallest battery size of the entire Cat A COE electric market while being one of the biggest vehicles, the only smaller batteries belonging to subcompact SUVs and hatchbacks

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As a result, official range is quoted at 293km which during my testing I found to be optimistic at best. Even with me driving as economically as possible and achieving what I felt was an admirable consumption of 18kWh/100km, I was still only able to eke out 210km before I had to plug it back in with an indicated remaining range of 20km. It should also be noted that I was driving alone most of the time with no cargo and the range should drop even more once the Combo-e Life is loaded up. 

On the upside, the Combo-e Life is able to fast-charge on a 100kW DC charger which will be able to juice it back up in about 30mins during a lunch break or while grocery shopping for instance. But I believe that just over 200km of range is simply not enough for a vehicle that Opel says will be good for families with small businesses. 

However, what Opel has undoubtedly done is offer the flexibility of having either a large people-mover or a capable cargo-carrier that is both electric and competitively priced. The aim of the Combo-e Life was to make the price as accessible as possible while packing as much utility into it as they could. And though Opel’s approach has been rather function over form, they have definitely achieved that. 

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Opel Combo-e Life 50 kWh
Price (at time of publishing): $164,500 including COE  VES Band: A1
Motor:
Electric motor
Charging Rate:
100 kW DC,
 AC unknown
Power & Torque:
100 kW (134 bhp)
& 260 Nm
 Transmission:
Single-speed
Driven Wheels:
Front
Consumption:
17.5-19.4 kWh/100km
0-100 km/h:
10.4 seconds
Top Speed:
130 km/h
Battery Capacity:
50 kWh
Dimensions 
(L x W x H):
4,753 mm x 1,848 mm x 1,880 mm
Wheelbase:
2,975 mm
Cargo Capacity:
Up to 2,600 litres

Read More: mReview: Opel Zafira-e Life - An Electric Behemoth


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