Road test: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
This is a cracking motor car. Very well equipped and enjoyable to drive, too.
What is it?
The big, higher, go-almost-anywhere version of Vauxhall’s Insignia Sports Tourer. This is an estate with loads of room and plenty of gadgets. Boot space, however, is not best in class.
How green is it?
Big diesel estates tend to struggle when it comes to environmental credentials. We managed a long-term average of 37.6mpg, some way south of the claimed 47 for the automatic version.
Who should buy one?
If you like an engaging but comfortable drive, then the Country Tourer represents a worthy alternative to a more predictable SUV… and you do get a lot for your money.
Road test by James Luckhurst. June 2018
Driving and performance
First impressions are positive. Sleek, streamlined and sophisticated on the outside, and extremely comfortable front and rear on the inside. All the cockpit controls are straightforward and within easy reach, with two traditional dials (perhaps not as large as we might like them to be) flanking a central digital speed read-out.
As a lot of our test is taking place on French roads, it would help to have the kilometre graduations in a font size that is actually readable, but that’s a minor complaint, really. We do also like to see 30 and 70 prominent on the dial in any car we test; sadly neither is present on the Insignia’s dials.
Before we set off, a compliment to the design of the steering wheel. It’s comfortable and heated, too. Buttons operated by the left thumb look after cruise control and maximum speed; they also deal with the collision avoidance fine-tuning. The right thumb looks after the engine management readings, fuel consumption and range.
As we go along, mostly on easy-going French autoroutes, we intend making good use of the cruise control, but there seem to be inconsistencies in making it work. We’re advocates of the school of thought that says these things should just work, without the need to consult a manual.
As for the driving itself, the Insignia does not put a foot wrong in a test route of nearly 2,000 miles. Acceleration is perfectly adequate, and there’s a bit more power in reserve if a swifter manoeuvre is needed. Engine noise is never intrusive; road noise can be, especially on older motorway surfaces. Pothole performance, put to the test on the M20 in Kent, is, well… adequate.
Part of the extensive line-up of on-board technology is a satellite navigation system with traffic alerts. This gets a thorough testing on British and French roads, and it proves useful. However, we seem to receive some traffic alerts once we have been sitting in queues, when it would be much more helpful to know in advance and receive options to re-route. Overall, though, this big estate delivers an effortless and comfortable drive.
ble-free squeezing into tight spots, and we explore some of the storage spaces (including between the front seats, on top of the dashboard and near the handbrake).
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
We have no complaints at all about the excellent space available in the Country Tourer, whose wheelbase is 92mm longer than the previous model. Passenger comfort in the front and rear is exceptional, with loads of legroom and plenty of headroom. In normal configuration, using the rear seats as seats, you get 560 litres of boot space. It doesn’t feel especially deep, but it’s cleverly conceived and there’s handy extra room in alcoves each side at the very back. With seats down, the space increases to 1,665 litres – more than the Audi A4 Allroad, but less generous than the VW Passat Alltrack or the Skoda Superb Estate.
Doorwells are substantial and the glovebox will fit more than gloves. The practical nature of the car continues with the tailgate. Simply swish your leg where you see a silhouette of the car projected onto the ground below, and up it will go. To close, swish again (but whether it would help to chant ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ as you do it is another matter…).
Although the Country Tourer has not been through a Euro NCAP test of its own, its hatchback sibling picked up a solid five-star rating, with a 93 per cent score for adult occupant and 85 per cent for child. A sound line-up of safety systems, both active and passive (including a following distance alert and lane-departure), is included in standard spec.
There is a real upmarket feel to the Country Tourer. Heated seats are just the job, especially during the particularly chilly week we have spent at the wheel. Keyless entry and start/stop is standard throughout the range, as are 18-inch alloys, cruise control and an eight-inch infotainment screen with Vauxhall’s fantastic OnStar, a personal assistant with crash response, smartphone app, destination data and virtual concierge service.
Starting at £25,635 on the road, the Country Tourer is priced below the Volvo V60 Cross Country, Audi A4 Allroad and Volkswagen Passat Alltrack. Even with a few useful extras (the towing kit with trailer stability programme costs £700, a head-up display is £290), we think it’s still good value. But do note the £1240 first year VED tag on the 4×4 version.
WE SAY This is a cracking motor car. Very well equipped and enjoyable to drive, too.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: from £25,950
Performance: 0-62 in 8.8 secs
Figures for the 2.0-litre 170PS turbodiesel auto.