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Driven: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer BiTurbo. Image by Vauxhall.

Driven: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer BiTurbo
Softly-softly approach for Vauxhall's 4x4 Insignia crossover.

   



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Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer BiTurbo

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: comfortable, spacious, great seats

Not so good: much too expensive, raucous engine

Key Facts

Model tested: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer Nav 2.0CDTi BiTurbo
Price: as tested 35,579; Country Tourer range starts from 24,989
Engine: 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed automatic
Body style: five-door crossover estate
CO2 emissions: 174g/km (Band H, 295 first 12 months, 205 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 42.8mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 195hp at 4,000rpm
Torque 400Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

This is Vauxhall's take on the off-road estate formula, a growing and hugely popular market segment, but we wouldn't blame you for not noticing the Insignia Country Tourer among a slew of motorway traffic. Unless it's in a bright body colour, you'll struggle to spot the difference between this and a regular Sports Tourer, even though - like so many in this sector - it rides higher than the regular car, has cladding over the wheel arches and along the sills and there are underslung scuff plates centre front and rear. Discreet badges are about as much of a giveaway as you're going to get.

And the interior is seriously underplayed. Apart from when the passenger doors are open to allow ingress and egress, and therefore the 'Country Tourer' door sills are on show, there is nothing to differentiate this cabin from any other Insignia. When many rivals offer at least some dash inserts in a suitably faux 'adventure' finish, you might find the Vauxhall's standard rep-mobile cockpit a bit of a let-down, especially when a Country Tourer commands almost a 3,000 premium over a roughly equivalent two-wheel drive estate. However, we're not lambasting this range-topping Insignia for any of its aesthetic qualities, because the revised car has a decent cabin and handsome exterior looks. It's getting on a bit, the Insignia, but it's still fine to behold - especially the TFT driver's instrument cluster and the updated infotainment system, which is a lot better than previous efforts.

It's also a reasonably pleasing thing to drive, but once again the differences between it and any other Insignia are hard to discern. In fact, it's the things that you don't remember from the regular car that start to draw your attention. Like, for instance, the rather gruff 2.0-litre biturbo diesel engine. The week we had our Country Tourer was unfortunate timing in some respects, because we also drove the new 'Whisper' biturbo diesel in an Insignia hatch and it's a far superior lump. The car's engine might have been down on power (it was running in 180hp guise) but it was a much smoother, thoroughly cutting-edge unit. The sooner the off-road Insignia gets this engine, the better.

The Country Tourer also doesn't ride any gentler than the normal Insignia, which is odd given its soft, long-travel suspension. That might be to do with weight, as the CT clocks in at 1,768kg, around 110kg more than an equivalent estate, but extra bulk can often iron out any imperfections in damping. Not so with this Insignia. It's not that it is uncomfortable but you feel more of the road surface than you should, given your lofty perch above it.

And it's not just the engine that's noisy, as tyre roar is noticeable on most surfaces at pretty much all speeds. That's to do with rubber that requires an off-road bent, a compromise that's almost certainly unnecessary as the Insignia is about as likely to go mud-plugging as any of the other cars in this niche. Which is to say, once in a blue moon.

Vauxhall's pricing strategy at the moment is all over the shop, because while some models seem like conspicuous bargains with class-leading power/torque figures and lengthy kit lists, some seem wildly overpriced. It's a conveniently pat argument to say the Insignia is the cheapest in its class (it is), but the more expensive cars feel worth the extra cash. And while the Vauxhall has a healthy roster of goodies as standard - like Navi 900 satnav with IntelliLink, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB and MP3 connectivity, all-round parking sensors, cruise control, adaptive front lights with LED daytime running lamps, 18-inch alloys and tinted rear glass - there's still the option to put more pounds (fiscal) onto a car that, with this engine, retails at more than 30 grand anyway. Our car had premium Nappa leather, costing a faintly ludicrous 3,060, for example. By all means, lob on the Bose premium sound system (525) and the retractable tow bar with a 13-pin socket (545), but 300 for a rear-view camera? On a car at this level? The final total for 'our' Insignia was 35,579, which is a huge amount of cash in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, like any Vauxhall D-segment contender, it is supreme on the motorway, where the suspension gets into its best groove and the engine dies away to the least intrusive level of sound. It even managed to go well beyond its combined economy figure on a long motorway run, which is admirable given its kerb weight and aerodynamic penalties. The four-wheel drive system is also excellent at eradicating understeer and the Country Tourer actually proved fun to hustle around country lanes, although body control is a bit loose. Also, the six-speed auto is another part of the drivetrain that feels antiquated. Again, not out and out bad, just shown up by the modern dual-clutch systems you'll find in other machines of a similar ilk. At least the ratios on the Vauxhall are well judged, allowing the car to make the most of its prodigious 400Nm of torque. It might not feel that quick off the line or lugging from low speeds, but once out of town the midrange shove of the Country Tourer is more than adequate.

If all this has the whiff of damning the Country Tourer with faint praise, you're right on the button. We like the car, no doubt about that, but it doesn't really strike us as a huge step up over a regul... well, you get the picture. It's also a missed opportunity given that Vauxhall (at the time of writing) doesn't have a full-sized 4x4, so this is as rough 'n' tumble as you're going to get from anything with a Griffin on its conk. Placing it in a clearly defined slot among its rivals is even harder, because while it certainly represents a bargain compared to the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and Audi A4 allroad, by the same token it doesn't feel anywhere near as premium as either of those cars.

And it's now under attack from the more upmarket C-segment creations, namely the ones issuing forth from the Volkswagen Group. There's the all-new Golf Alltrack from Volkswagen, which is about comparable on price and not as big as the Insignia, but it's arguably a better execution of the crossover estate format in a model that has a huge amount of badge cred; there's the Leon X-Perience, essentially the same car as the Golf but with a bit of Latin flair thrown in for good measure, and it's also cheaper than the Vauxhall; and then there's the biggest headache of all, the Skoda Octavia Scout. Every bit as capacious as the Insignia Country Tourer (it actually has a bigger boot at 610 litres, against the Insignia's 540 litres), more markedly special outside and within and with the 184hp model starting from 28,200, it's really hard to ignore a car blessed with the superb Volkswagen Group engines compared to a conservative Insignia touting an engine that feels like it's on borrowed time.

A Country Tourer with a Whisper diesel engine and perhaps three grand knocked off the price would be a wholly different proposition and one we'd suggest would need serious consideration. But at more than 30,000 basic, the Insignia Country Tourer currently falls between two jacked-up estate stools. Whichever way you look when it comes to list prices, there's a better alternative on offer from other manufacturers.

Alternatives:

Audi A4 allroad: classiest of all soft-road estates, it is expensive and the regular A4 is due for replacement later this year. We'd still recommend it over the Insignia.

Skoda Octavia Scout: it's all right trying to claim that the Skoda is a C-segment car, based as it is on a Volkswagen Golf, but it's as big as the Insignia CT, usefully cheaper and nicer inside and out. Difficult to recommend the Vauxhall over this.

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack: occupying a narrow bit of ground between the A4 and the Insignia Country Tourer in terms of price, the larger of Volkswagen's two Alltrack models is a more polished creation than the Luton product. A new one is due in September.


Matt Robinson - 15 Jun 2015



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2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.    


2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 

2015 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.
 






 

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