The Holden Combo was launched in 1994 as a rebadged Opel; it is a commercial panel van with a roof spoiler. It was based on the Opel Corsa platform. The car’s front end, as far as the B-pillar, is simply a Corsa, with a rear-mounted section consisting of a box cabin cargo area. The first-generation vans were not particularly aerodynamic with the large cargo hold, which made them expensive to drive.
As the increased desire for a varied leisure vehicle emerged, the Combo’s body shape was redesigned to form the Holden Combo B. The front remained the same, but the roofline was lowered to give it a more aerodynamic, streamlined look, and models were made that included windows in place of the side panels. The interior also had bench seats fitted, and it retained the double, rear opening doors. This slicker version used much less fuel without losing out significantly on storage space.
The look was updated in 2001 with the arrival of the Combo C and the Tour edition, which came with the option of a vertically opening backdoor and the addition of a sliding side door. The Combo Tour was marketed as an off-road leisure vehicle and had increasingly durable suspension, better ground clearance, and underside protection. This was a far more family-friendly shape and could compete better with the 4x4 vehicles as well as the ute vans.
In 2011, Opel released the Combo D, however, Holden retained the original Combo XC design up until 2012. It discontinued the line once it had assembled these models, not taking up the later generation.
The Holden Combo initially came fitted with a 1.4L or 1.6L SOHC ecotech; this was later upgraded to the 1.7L SOHC. The workhorse engine for the vehicle came in 2001 when it was sold with the 1.7DTi, Circle-L turbodiesel. The drivetrain only had the one transmission option, a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The modern tech engine ensures that fuel costs are kept low, and it achieves a combined rating of 6.3L/100Km. The 1.4L has a maximum output of 66kW and a torque level of 125Nm; this means the Holden Combo could never be described as a street racer, but it is fit for purpose. It provides passengers and cargo with a safe, comfortable environment, and it’s able to get from A to B with the minimum of problem.
The safety features in the earlier Combo included ABS, airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts and force limiters, and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBF).
Standard features include air-con, electric rear window demister, powered steering, Blaupunkt CD/radio system with MP3 port and 4 speakers, dual front airbags, cloth-covered bucket seats, sure grip, and a rubber floor mat to prevent cargo from flying around. The cabin contains plenty of storage space with a central console, storage tray, under seat cubby, and roof storage compartments; the rear cargo bay holds an impressive amount of gear.
The exterior of the van comes equipped with 15-inch steel wheels with flush covers, 2-speed wipers, rear fog lights, and central mounted high stop light.
As the Holden Combo was either marketed as a straight commercial vehicle, a ute, or a compact people carrier, there were extra options to cover every eventuality, including a safety partition separating the cargo area from the front cab.
The Holden Combo has always had stiff competition from Volkswagen’s Caddy vehicle, but it is still more popular than the Suzuki APV, Renault Kangoo, and Citroen Berlingo. The Combo started out as a load carrier, but the redesign in 2001 made it more appealing to the family car-owning fraternity. This brought the Combo into competition with the Falcon, Holden Commodore, and Toyota Camry, giving lots of choice in this niche market.
The initial designs were very much utilitarian, commercial vehicles, with a simple body shape with plenty of storage space. The later models were more family-oriented; they still very much retained the ute feel and business lines but with slightly more friendly looks. This makes it difficult when competing against the Caddy and even more so the Berlingo, which has more of a 4x4 body shape than minivan design.
The earlier Combos were tagged ‘the little big van’ due to their storage capacity, and this concept followed through to the later models as well. If you are looking for a minivan for transporting people and things, whether with a good cargo bay or by fitting rear bench seats to create a mini people carrier, then the Holden Combo will suit all your needs.