More than a suspicion of the Audi A6 Allroad lurks around the new Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
Neil Lyndon goes wild in the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
Those anthracite moulded wheel arch and sill protectors on the body tend to lead your thoughts in the direction of the Audi; as do the skid plates front and rear. They are raised even further in the 25mm elevated ride height and optional four-wheel drive. Where you won’t see the comparison, however, is in the price. The Country Tourer starts at £25635. The front-wheel-drive two-litre turbodiesel version, with eight-speed automatic gearbox we recently borrowed for a week’s test, would cost £32170. That might be £20,000 less than you would expect to pay for an A6 Allroad after you had kitted it up to satisfy all your whims. For that kind of saving, you might find the Vauxhall to be worth some serious consideration.
And then you would discover that many of those little vanities you cherish in a car have already been taken care of in the Country Tourer. All versions of this car come with Vauxhall’s Flexride adaptive suspension system with settings for Standard, Tour and Sport set-ups. Eighteen-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and mirrors, satnav and electrically folding wing mirrors are all standard, as is Vauxhall’s OnStar concierge feature which can, among other valet-like services, find parking spaces, restaurant reservations and hotel rooms.
On our test car, the sumptuous leather upholstery cost more than an extra grand as did the LED headlights. Add a powered tailgate and “premium paint” and you’re looking at an all-in price which is just about equal to the point where an A6 Allroad might start. Other possible rivals – such as Subaru’s Outback, Volvo’s V60 Cross Country and VW’s Passat Alltrack are, also, way more expensive than this Vauxhall.
Some signal advantages come with that price. The loadspace is almost laughably gigantic. With rear seats folded it extends to 1665 litres, which ought to rate the car as a commercial vehicle. The extended wheelbase of the Insignia also allows for a lot of room in all the seats – an advantage that was genuinely appreciated by all members of my family, who were unanimous in their overall approval of the Country Tourer.
I had some reservations. A two-wheel drive car with countrified trappings doesn’t really cut the mustard (or, rather, the snow and ice) at our place - down an unmade track, off a minor road in the Scottish hills. A Country Tourer with Vauxhall’s latest torque-vectoring four-wheel drive system which delivers power to the axle and the wheel that needs it most would probably cope with 95% of the bad weather that comes our way in winter, but the two-wheel drive version would be no more use than my mother-in-law’s Picanto.
At the same time, I would have to say that, even in the Sport setting, the dynamic qualities of the Country Tourer didn’t exactly set my trousers on fire with excitement. Despite being quiet and comfortable, this car doesn’t invite or reward a spirited approach to a corner but quite quickly lets you know that it isn’t cut out for that kind of treatment at all.
There are, then, limits to the extent to which the Insignia Country Tourer compares with an Audi A6 Allroad. However anybody with any sense would not explore those limits but would, rather, quietly cherish the twenty big ones that are keeping cosy in the bank rather than evaporating faster than summer rain on the road.
Car reviewed: Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 TURBO D 170PS Auto BlueInjection S/S - On the road £27,865 with options as tested £32,170 0-62mph 8.8 secs Top speed 135mph Fuel Economy combined 47.1mpg CO2 emissions 157g/km Engine 1956cc 4-cylinder EU6 Max Power 170PS@3750rpm Torque 400Nm@1750-2500rpm Transmission 8-speed Automatic
Reasonably good value
Spacious and well equipped
Laughably gigantic load space
2-wheel drive, go for AWD
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