Rugged estate takes the family off the beaten track.
So, you’re looking for a spacious family car that isn’t all show and no go. Function and practicality are top of the agenda, but you don’t want to follow the crowd into an SUV. That leaves the humble estate car – something of a dying breed.
The new Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer makes a strong case for an increasingly forgotten class.
The Country Tourer is based on the Insignia Sports Tourer, but designed with a more rugged agenda. It sits 20mm higher, features plenty of plastic cladding, roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels and protective skid plates.
There’s only one trim level, so it’s well equipped as standard. An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display comes with satellite navigation and music fans can enjoy a seven-speaker system without spending a penny. Other luxuries such as automatic lights, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry are also standard.
The interior is spacious with plenty of room for the whole family. In particular, outermost rear passengers are treated to vast amounts of legroom, however, the middle occupant has to contend with a large transmission hump in the floor. There’s a suitably big boot offering 560 litres (or 1,665 litres with the rear seats folded flat), although it’s worth noting that the VW Passat Alltrack and Skoda Octavia Scout both bigger boots.
Material quality isn’t bad, with key surfaces receiving the soft-touch treatment. However, there’s still plenty of hard plastics to be found around the place, so the more expensive Passat Alltrack certainly feels quite a bit plusher.
How does it drive?
At this point there is only one engine option in the form of a 168bhp 2-litre diesel. Front- or all-wheel drive, manual or automatic, that’s up to you. A more powerful 207bhp twin-turbo diesel will join the range in a few months.
We sampled an all-wheel-drive manual car, which proved to be a good combination. There’s enough grunt from the diesel engine to pull in just about any gear, which heavy motorway users will relish.
The all-wheel-drive system provides plenty of grip and gives the car the ability to venture off the beaten track although an SUV's higher ground clearance gives it an advantage in this department. It’s not the most entertaining estate car out there, but its sure-footedness will reassure those who regularly encounter the brunt of the British weather.
All cars come with Vauxhall’s FlexRide that lets you select from three different modes altering steering weight, throttle response and suspension. Sport Mode gives the steering more precision and the car’s body control through fast changes of direction isn’t bad either. Just brace yourself for speed bumps. Tour Mode softens up the ride allowing the Country Tourer to deal with road imperfections with more grace, although the ride can feel a bit too floaty over undulations. We found Normal Mode to be the best of both worlds.
Noise at low speed is well suppressed and around town the diesel grumble is kept to a minimum, but things get a bit noisier at higher speeds as wind noise is quite intrusive.
Should I buy one?
The Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer delivers on space and being a more versatile car than your average estate. A competent drive and generous equipment levels makes this Vauxhall worthy of your consideration.
The ace up its sleeve is that the starting price of £25,636 makes it considerably cheaper than key rivals such as the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, and even the Skoda Octavia Scout. Plus, Vauxhall routinely offers great finance offers with low interest rates and monthly payments, so make sure you do the maths on this utilitarian Vauxhall before making any decisions.