Added at-traction of Vauxhall Insigna Country Tourer estate
PUBLISHED: 15:11 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:10 16 February 2018
Want a load-lugging, lifestyle 4x4, but an SUV is not your style? Vauxhall’s rugged Insignia Country Tourer could be the answer, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Living in the country, and on a hill, even light snowfall and ungritted roads make getting out and about a bit of an adventure.
So when flurries of the white stuff and hard overnight frosts coincided with the latest addition to Vauxhall’s fine new Insignia range – the ‘soft-roader’ Country Tourer estate – on my driveway it proved its worth with added traction but without taking the obvious sports utility vehicle route.
What is it?
A halfway house between a traditional estate car and four-wheel drive SUV.
Inside it’s the same as the latest, much classier Insignia Sport Tourer estate, so all that practical load-carrying. Outside, a muscular makeover sees moulded black protective cladding on the front, wheel arches and lower body sides for a tougher, more rugged appearance, and silver-coloured front and rear skid plates and dual exhaust bezels.
Add 20mm more ground clearance and the option of intelligent all-wheel-drive and it can get to grips with rutted tracks and muddy lanes or grassy fields. It’s not a serious off-roader but nor are most trendy SUVs.
The standard estate is smart, the Country Tourer’s butcher body kit makes it stand out from the crowd so I can understand the appeal of front-wheel drive models for those who just want added style.
Under the bonnet
The big seller will be the 170PS 2.0-litre turbo diesel – front-wheel drive six-speed manual and eight-speed auto and manual 4x4 – but there’s also an automatic, 4x4 210PS Bi-Turbo.
The 170PS version makes decent progress, pulling willingly from low revs thanks to a healthy 400 Newton metres of torque from 1,750 to 2,500rpm.
Tall gearing keeps the revs down and engine muted when cruising but you need to use the gearbox for brisk acceleration – not a hardship with its precise shift.
CO2 emissions are higher than many rivals and, while the 4x4 version is thirstier, it still returned 40mpg.
How it drives
With the higher ground clearance, the Country Tourer’s ride feels slightly softer, good news off the beaten track on rutted routes but it does create more on-road body roll in tour and normal mode and, on rollercoaster roads, passengers in the back felt a little queasy. In sport mode, ride and roadholding feel stiffer and sharper, throttle response crisper, and it became my default.
Instead of a traditional rear differential, it boasts two electrically-controlled multi-plate clutches to send power precisely to each wheel. Churning up wet, grassy meadows was not an option during my test but it was unfazed by some seriously icy, ungritted country roads.
Space and comfort
The interior is shared with the standard Sport Tourer so that long wheelbase means vast legroom in the back, but the middle passenger has to straddle a tall hump, and plenty of headroom so four large adults can stretch out on long journeys.
It also gets a long, 560-litre boot, but not as deep as some rivals, with the floor flush with the sill protected by a metal strip. And 40/20/40 split rear seat backs are standard, rather than optional, and released from the boot, folding flat to create a 1,665-litre load bay.
At the wheel
The new dashboard is more upmarket, clear and user-friendly with a responsive, high-level touchscreen for most functions but some heating and ventilation system buttons are small and not that easy to use on the move.
The swoopy fascia is easy on the eye with smart gloss back and brightwork elements to lift the look.
Whether short or tall, the driving position can be tailored with good steering column and seat adjustment.
Vauxhall has three SUVs and crossovers but only the mid-range Mokka X offers all-wheel drive so the Insignia Country Tourer is an attractive, competitively-priced lifestyle alternative for those looking for extra traction.
TECH AND SPEC
Price: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 Turbo D 4x4 £27,235 (range from £25,635)
Engine: 1,956cc, 170PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.3 seconds; top speed 135mph
MPG: Urban 33.6; extra urban 52.3; combined 43.5
CO2 emissions: 172g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 36pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 20
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 5,004mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,093mm; H 1,537mm