VAUXHALL seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment, picking up a number of awards for their latest vehicles.

The most recent success came for our test car this week, the Combo Life MPV, which has won AUTOBEST’s Best Buy Car of Europe 2019.The awards are given by an independent judging panel composed of expert motoring journalists from 31 countries

That success came on top of Vauxhall’s Insignia flagship taking Best Large Family Car for the second year in a row at the Carbuyer Best Car Awards and the Upper Medium Category at the inaugural Company Car Today CCT100 Awards.

The rugged Country Tourer version was also recognised as Best 4×4 at the Scottish Car of the Year Awards 2018 and Best Crossover Estate at 4×4 magazine’s 2018 awards.

Last September, the all-new Combo Cargo (the van version of our test car) was voted International Van of the Year 2019 by a jury of specialist journalists from 25 European countries and it also took What Van? Light Commercial Vehicle of the Year 2019.

So what is all the fuss about? Well we got our hands on a Combo Life Energy, which had a 1.5 diesel engine giving out a modest 99bhp meaning 0 to 60 in a respectable 12.7 seconds and top speed of 107.

But where this motor scores highly is in consumption, up to a shade over 70mpg on a run (67.3 combined) which only drops to 62.8 on the urban cycle. Add to that our top of the range version had all the bells and whistles – even high end kit like heads up display (a fitted extra), heated seats, rear camera and an 8-inch infotainment central touchscreen with DAB radio, sat-nav and Android/Apple connection, cruise control and a whole raft of safety systems.

These include auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, forward collision alert and even a driver drowsiness warning system.

But where the Combo really comes into its own is load and passenger space. Being van-derived means lots of room on the inside plus many clever storage features – yes it is a bit minibus-like but what a great load lugger.

It is no surprise that the Combo is based on the Berlingo platform of new owners PSA group, although Vauxhall say the vehicle was designed first and foremost as a car.

Drive-wise the Combo is car like, although those looking for sports car acceleration will be disappointed (and should go for the higher-powered 128bhp version) but it is comfortable with a great raised driving position and all the logically-placed controls fall easily to hand.

The rear sliding doors are very practical and it can be ordered in a longer wheelbase seven seat version – meaning you really can move people in this people mover.

Engine options are a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol and our 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel with different outputs up to that 128bhp unit which can be ordered with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Our test manual version only had 5 gears but the general fit and finish inside and out was very good considering the price – from £21,540 on the road. And that will be one of the Combo Life’s big selling point as for this level of equipment it undercuts the opposition.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth