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First drive: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer. Image by Vauxhall.

First drive: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
The latest Insignia estate gets the off-road Country Tourer treatment.

 



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Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

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Vauxhall returns to the off-road estate market - currently only occupied by the Audi A4 allroad and Volkswagen Passat Alltrack - with the Insignia Country Tourer MkII. As it's based on the company's excellent Sports Tourer estate, it results in a fine workhorse of a wagon, although a little more differentiation between the Country Tourer and its regular siblings might have had us giving an even higher overall mark...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 Turbo D Automatic
Pricing: Insignia Country Tourer from 25,635; 2.0 Turbo D Automatic from 27,535
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door crossover estate
CO2 emissions: 157g/km (VED 500 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 47.1mpg
Top speed: 135mph
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Power: 170hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750- to 2,500rpm

What's this?

Vauxhall's second crack at turning the Insignia Sports Tourer into a lantern-jawed, check-shirt-wearing, outdoorsy-type wagon called the Country Tourer. The transformation process - and the resulting customer choice - is very simple. You get one 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, single-turbo diesel engine delivering 170hp and 400Nm, and then you can opt to have a front-wheel drive (FWD) manual (25,635), a FWD auto with a brand-new (for Vauxhall) eight-speed automatic (an additional 1,900, at 27,535), or a manual with drive going to all four corners in the, er, 4x4 model (1,600 on the entry Country Tourer, at 27,235); this latter model uses the same GKN 'Twinster' clutch arrangement for its traction as the Ford Focus RS. Later this year, a 210hp biturbo version of the 2.0 diesel will join the fold for 28,835, and it will be automatic and four-wheel drive only.

So, with the drivetrain options fixed, Vauxhall then applies the usual rugged add-ons required for one of these soft-roaders. The ride height is jacked up - by 25mm - the bottom of the car is slathered in black plastic, faux silver skid plates are slotted low and central in the bumpers, bespoke alloys (18-inchers) fitted with mud and snow tyres that feature a more aggressive tread get bolted on and, er... there's a standard set of roof rails. No matter; we're not criticising Vauxhall here, mainly because the Insignia Sports Tourer is a great-looking estate, and the Country Tourer add-ons do nothing to hurt it. You could argue that it's a more attractive machine than either of its main Germanic rivals or anything this side of the Volvo V90 Cross Country or Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain. We certainly would.

It's a shame, then, that just like on the old Country Tourer, the interior does not reflect the car's otherwise adventurous ambitions. If you're expecting some mud-spattered trim or lashings of brown to subconsciously make you think of the distant wilderness, think again. From behind the wheel, it feels exactly like a Sports Tourer. Again this is no bad thing, chiefly because the Insignia is another exponent of Vauxhall's vastly improved interior quality (see the current Astra for details), so the ambience within is actually excellent... but as the 2.0 Turbo D SRi Nav Sports Tourer is around 1,850 cheaper, it'd be nice to get at least some sort of cabin detailing that marks the Country Tourer out from its town-set siblings.

At least the equipment levels are beyond generous on the Insignia Country Tourer. Items such as front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, IntelliLink Navi 900 infotainment on an eight-inch touchscreen, OnStar, four heated seats, FlexRide adaptive dampers, keyless entry and heating for the steering wheel and front windscreen are all on the standard kit list. Options include adaptive cruise control, a head-up display and an automatic boot that can be opened with a kicking motion underneath the rear bumper, among more.

And the Country Tourer's aggressive list prices compare extremely favourably to the entry tickets to both Passat Alltrack (34,905) and A4 allroad (36,710) ownership... even if something from the supposed class below, like the Skoda Octavia Scout (26,525), presents a headache, with its comparable performance, better eco-stats and bigger boot. Although you would have to put up with those gopping quad headlights on the Czech motor, so maybe the handsome Vauxhall's onto a winner here.

How does it drive?

The interior is the same as an Insignia Sports Tourer, and the Country Tourer's driving experience doesn't feel appreciably different to other models either. This again isn't a negative; it's more of an observation that we're not quite sure why you wouldn't just stick with a regular Sports Tourer. That's especially true if you're going to opt for a two-wheel drive model like this and never take the Country Tourer off the tarmac, which is what we suspect most owners will do.

Nevertheless, the Country Tourer is wonderfully calibrated in all departments. The ride is just a touch plusher, thanks to the taller and softer suspension, although not by enough to make it the CT's USP in the Insignia range. That 170hp turbodiesel motor is strong, quiet and muscular and the new eight-speed automatic is a real highlight, offering seamless shifts and fast responses to throttle inputs. While the ride quality is supple, the Country Tourer remains steadfastly upright during cornering, not presenting any excessive weight transfer to make it feel pendulous, and the steering and brakes are both executed to a high standard.

Thus, the Country Tourer is at home in town or out of it, where it proves easy-going for low-speed manoeuvring and more than capable of piling on useful speed at all revs, thanks to its 400Nm powerplant. Vauxhall also let us take the Country Tourer off-road, although we should at least be honest and say the prescribed course was about a three-out-of-ten on the difficulty chart. A few short, steep ramps tested its approach and departure angles well, while the additional ground clearance was something of a help through rutted forest tracks and one very swampy puddle, but we can't possibly say the front-wheel drive Country Tourer is a genuinely capable off-roader.

The four-wheel-drive model should obviously go further, yet it won't win the hearts of avid green-laners and people who need to tow 3.5 tonnes of fully laden horsebox. But then, none of these crossover estates can really do that sort of thing, so the Vauxhall puts in a more-than-credible performance on all sorts of surfaces, going by the standards set by its obvious competitors.

Verdict

We've not got a downer on the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, you must understand - this is a big, practical and thoroughly good-looking estate given a sprinkling of off-road capability and then priced at a level way below its two most obvious competitors. It's an excellent car all round and a likeable thing to travel in. The thing is... so is an Insignia Sports Tourer, and that's a bit cheaper, plus it doesn't feel any different to the Country Tourer once you're behind the wheel. If you live in a remote location and often experience inclement weather, a 4x4 version of the Country Tourer would be a wise choice; otherwise, we reckon you're better off with the fantastic regular wagon from Vauxhall.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 19 Oct 2017









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2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.

2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.2017 Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer drive. Image by Vauxhall.








 

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