There’s quite a market for vaguely off-road-y big estate cars, with many of them being distinctly premium. So can Vauxhall ramp up its large Insignia Estate to take a big chunk of the action?
There’s certainly more of the car as the wheelbase is longer by 92mm. There’s also much more practicality with a ride height raised by 25mm compared to the normal Insignia, and with an all-wheel drive system based on a GKN technology that is also used in the Range Rover Evoque. Add in roof rails that can take 100kg of luggage, and a boot that is 1665 litres big and we’re looking at something big and practical indeed.
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
The only engine choice at launch is the 2.0-litre Turbo D, with the diesel putting out 172bhp through either a six-speed manual or an optional eight-speed auto. It’s a smooth and refined unit, with the sort of flexible grunt that you’d hope for in such a vehicle. It pulls well from below 2000rpm and makes overtaking a fairly confident activity. The six-speed manual transmission works slickly and actually this car is quite fun to drive, it’s not just a dutiful donkey.
We tried some rough trails and grassy areas – and grass is notoriously difficult to drve on – and it managed remarkably well. With rutted tracks showing up that the ground clearance is more than adequate so long as you don’t try to pretend you’re a rally driver, there’s also really decent traction. You can tackle steep slopes, up or down, without any drama, while the Flexride chassis’s adaptive dampers and steering take full account of what is going on under the wheels.
Once back on the road you can explore the Felxride settings, from Tour to Sport, which allows you to explore the options from very steady all-wheel drive to a slightly rear-weighted balance that makes it a sportier drive than you might imagine. All the settings engender a feeling of confidence and comfort, making long distances a doddle.
The cabin is snug and comfy, with lots of adjustment meaning any driver will find a comfy seating position. The instruments are clear and we like the high placement of the clear infotainment touchscreen, meaning you don’t have to take your eyes much off the road.
Equipment now includes the latest version of OnStar, the concierge service, so you can use Personal Assistant to find hotel bookings, and another system to help you find empty parking spaces. It feels like this Vauxhall is on your side.
This is a lot of car for your money and it all works harmoniously together. It’s impressive, yet notably cheaper than competitors like the Audi A4 Allroad or VW Passat Alltrack. If you went for a front-wheel drive model that starts at only £25,635 which is great value, although we’re impressed with the all-wheel drive system and all the benefits it brings all year round. Vauxhall is hoping to sell 500 such cars but we’re thinking that, for once, a manufacturer could be more optimistic.
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 Turbo D 170PS 4×4
On sale Now
Engine 4 cyls, 1956cc, turbocharged diesel
Power 172bhp @ 3750rpm
Torque 295lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox 6-spd manual
Kerb weight 1633kg
Top speed 135mph
CO2/tax band 172g/km, 36%
Rivals Audi A4 Allroad, Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, Volvo V90 Cross Country
Graham Scott is a writer for AutoCar.