Opel Combo D is another car that heralded the end of the love affair between Opel and General Motors. But at least the Opel Combo D remains one of the best small commercial vehicles and remains champion in craftsmanship and runner-up in comfort.
And that should be a concern Opel should think about. The Opel Combo D is either a fleet car for the courier tyrants or a commercial car for the entrepreneur starting out, and chances are he’s the driver too. Because an entrepreneur at the beginning of the road always registers the company, manages the company, takes care of marketing, deals with suppliers, takes orders, invoices, delivers orders, collects, accounts, washes toilets, pays taxes to the state and so on. And yet the Opel Combo D has done its job on the market.
How did the Opel Combo D survive when Opel was deeper in the hole than the one it buried itself?
General Motors already knew that the end was near for Opel so they didn’t bother to invest and innovate. So they turned to the partnership and because they had been using Fiat engines for hundreds of years anyway, they now decided to buy a car altogether and so the Opel Combo D is a Fiat Doblo that says Opel on it. The only difference between them, apart from the badge, is the steering wheel. Otherwise, they are identical. And the Fiat Doblo has always been a successful van so they played it safe by copying a good car.
The previous generation Opel Combo broke the market by being the most spacious van in its class. The Opel Combo C was built from the start on the premise that it had to fit a Euro pallet, everything else was secondary. So the Opel Combo D had to carry the torch further and so came the special edition “2300” which had a load capacity of 1000 kg, by far the largest in its class. Most of the competing vans, like Kangoo or Caddy, stopped somewhere around 750 kg, and the Combo D shattered all myths.
Opel Combo D Engines
- 1.4 MPI of 95 horsepower – The legendary 1.4 FiRE mounted on everything from the Fiat Bravo to the Fiat Tipo, this engine gives serious competition to the 1.4 MPI in the Logan. It’s so reliable that if the valve timing breaks on the fly, the engine is fine. Yes, it’s as muscular as Mayweather, but when you’re couriering around town do you really need 100 horsepower?
- 1.4 Turbo of 120 horsepower – The engine is decent in its own right, having been carried over from the Astra K, but it’s not as robust as the naturally aspirated version. You should know instead that it’s the only engine that also comes with the M32 manual gearbox.
- 1.3 CDTi of 90 and 95 horsepower – The same 1.3 CDTi we’ve been used to since we discovered fire 400,000 years ago, only today it’s brought up to Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
- 1.6 CDTi of 90, 95 and 100 horsepower – An absolutely decent diesel that was the parting gift between Opel and Fiat. Fiat built it and Opel improved it, so it’s the best diesel for the Opel Combo D. Plus this beloved son was the only one to get a 5-speed DualLogic semi-automatic gearbox and we know very well from Dacia how good those semi-automatic gearboxes are. They’re as good as when you see you’ve won the lottery but lost your ticket. Or when an inflatable doll tells you she wants to stay just friends.
- 2.0 CDTi of 136 horsepower – Famous for the scandal it caused on the Opel Insignia A, this mechanical abomination was also available on the Combo for 5 minutes on dealership lists, then disappeared as mysteriously as a magician only to be seen again, doing the round of pubs of London. The problems were only solved in 2014 but a year later the engine was taken off the grid.
Opel Combo D General Issues
- I’m going to start with the big, soft one, namely the diesel engines. Yes, there are people who buy vans with petrol engines, but most will go for diesel. And the Euro 5 and Euro 6 rules make their reliability fall off like a sack of potatoes from the attic. Particulate filters, injectors, EGR and all sorts of other problems make these commercial vans poor for urban traffic.
- We continue along this line and pick on the start/stop system that comes standard on all cars, to get out emissions. And if you don’t already know, the start/stop system is the death of passion but also the death of the starter motors, and in vans they are even more prone to this problem. So make sure you always disable it when you start the car.
- You’ll laugh at this at first, but the Opel Combo D comes standard with mirror signalling and if you know anything about city traffic and how delivery vans are driven, you’ll immediately understand that it’s a worse idea than when you go to ask her if she’ll go out with you on the premise that “the worst answer she can give is no” and she actually responds with “eeeewwwww gross”.
- One thing specific to the Opel Combo D is the glove compartment which has acres of space and any papers you put in there will be lost in a void bigger than the void in my life when Vinnie Jones announced he was quitting everything and taking up church music.
Opel Combo D Verdict
The Opel Combo D remains one of the best commercial vehicles in its class. Or rather I would say this Fiat Doblo with Opel badge and steering wheel. However, until now it lived on its reputation for practicality and the reputation of the 1.3 diesel. But now that diesels are no longer viable for the city, you’re left with just the van with the highest load capacity, 1000 kg. With over 250kg more than the competition, can you imagine how many extra parcels you can fit on a trip?
Which engines do you recommend? Most likely I’ll recommend the 1.6 CDTi diesel for the long haul, but the Combo shines best in the city and there the 1.4 petrol and 95 hp is by far the best engine.