The Vivaro Life is more agile than you might expect a super-large MPV to be, primarily thanks to the lighter, stiffer 'EMP2' platform that Vauxhall's switch to PSA Group ownership has dictated it must have. There's a relatively nimble feeling through the turns for a big People Carrier, helped by quite a low centre of gravity and steering that, though not especially feelsome, responds quite quickly to inputs. There's a choice of two main diesel engines, a 1.5-litre unit offered with either 100 or 120PS. And the 2.0-litre powerplant we'd recommend, available with either 150 or 180PS. The most powerful model has to be had with 8-speed automatic transmission. Otherwise, you'll be using a 6-speed manual.
Refinement has been a priority with this design, as has ride quality thanks to load-sensitive shock absorbers and a so-called 'passive' suspension system that adjusts springing and damping as required, depending on the road surface. Plus this model feels quite manoeuvrable. Testers who'd found the sheer size of some other big MPVs in this segment a little daunting when dealing with narrow country lanes and squeezing through gaps in the traffic were, we found, much more easily able to acclimatise to a Vivaro Life. The bonnet's set quite high, but the nose has a squared-off shape that we've found during our testing programme makes this Vauxhall easy to place in tight urban situations.