The Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer is another take on the ruggedised, four-wheel drive, full-size estate car. Haven't we been there and done that? Yes, but while it won't win any prizes for originality, it's hard to find fault with Vauxhall's execution.
Most Insignia Country Tourer models will be ordered with a 2.0-litre diesel engine - there's a choice of two. The 170PS unit offers 400Nm of torque, enough to get you to 62mph in just over 8s on the way to 140mph and if you want to improve on those figures, a biturbo 210PS version of this engine is also on offer. That top variant only comes with the all-new 8-speed automatic gearbox that's been freshly developed for this second generation model. This Country Tourer variant features additional ground clearance of 20mm, plus all-wheel drive with torque vectoring and a freshly designed five-link rear suspension system.
Instead of a traditional rear differential, this Vauxhall boasts two electrically controlled multi-plate clutches that enable a more individual and precise transmission of power to each wheel. To stabilise the vehicle and counteract understeer on tight corners taken at higher speeds, the system can send more torque to the outside rear wheel without further driver intervention. The improved FlexRide chassis provides the basis for changing road conditions and driving behaviour. It adapts the dampers, steering, throttle response and shift points (on automatic models) independently or based on the 'Standard', 'Sport' or 'Tour' modes, which can be selected by the driver.
Naturally, you expect a few design cues to distinguish your Country Tourer from a Sport Tourer and Vauxhall delivers them. The prominent landscape grille and slim headlamps give this model a wider look, while the skid plate helps to give the car more of an SUV-style feel. Moulded black protective cladding in the lower fascia, wheel arches and along the lower body side aims to emphasise this model's rugged appearance. The more adventurous design cues continue at the rear too, with a silver-coloured skid plate and dual exhaust bezels.
Otherwise, things are much as they would be in a normal Insignia Sports Tourer. There's a total capacity of 1,638-litres with the rear seats down - 110-litres up on the first generation Country Tourer model. However, the 520-litre capacity with the seats in place is no better than before. The seats themselves can be ordered with a 40:20:40 folding mechanism, while an electric tailgate with foot gesture opening is standard. Vauxhall has also made loading easier with a lower load lip. Up front, there's an enormous improvement over what was served up by the previous model. Fit and finish is almost a match for the premium brands and in the instrument binnacle, there's a smart and configurable 4.2-inch colour monitor, plus there's a sophisticated Intellilink screen on the dash that can be up to 8-inches in size.
The Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer is a welcome addition to a market that's got room for a talented mainstreamer with an attractive asking price. Most of the non-premium marques hesitated while looking at this genre of cars because they were clearly so lifestyle, and by extension, badge-oriented, but Vauxhall has built a model that may well have the talent to convince the sort of customer who might never have previously considered an Insignia.
The styling's not too overblown, the engines are excellent, the four-wheel drive system is right on the money for the sort of use this model will see and the prices look good and probably have plenty of room for negotiation. There's very little you won't like about the Country Tourer. It's got the chops to worry some significantly pricier rivals. That'll work for Vauxhall.Click here to find out more about our Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer range