Road test: No Kidding, Country Tourer piles on the style

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AS the popularity of Pinocchio showed, having a big nose can be quite an endearing feature.

But extra snout length being a good thing is given the lie by the latest iteration of the Vauxhall Insignia, the Country Tourer. Here’s a car that’s a good six inches longer than our Ford Galaxy and even five inches longer than a Ford Mondeo estate but doesn’t do any more than offer five seats.

You might think that insignificant, as did we, until we took a trip to London and realised that we would have been unable to park at our destination if using the Vauxhall because even the Galaxy stuck out more than we would have wished.

Never mind, though, you can use the Vauxhall to avoid London because this is a Country Tourer and, as such, has just won the Crossover Estate category at 4×4 magazine’s 2018 awards.

There were many established rivals to challenge it but the judges were won over as they thought the Insignia CT a classy, well-equipped, and extremely practical vehicle, which turned heads wherever it went.

“The Insignia Country Tourer is stylish inside and out – and as well as looking good, it’s easy and practical to use. It’s phenomenally spacious, too – and when you actually drive it, you find that it’s both enjoyable and refined,” said Alan Kidd, Editor, 4×4 magazine.

“We don’t think there’s a box anywhere that the Insignia Country Tourer doesn’t tick. If you’re considering any sort of 4×4 estate, you absolutely must put it on your shortlist.”

Mr Kidd isn’t kidding about most aspects of the CT, so his nose is unlikely to grow as he revels in its abundant features. Not least among this is its style. If you like those long, low Mercedes Benz estate car coupes then you’ll love the CT unless you really covet the Mercedes three pointed star gunsight on the bonnet. It would certainly help you work out where the car begins!

That said, the superbly-equipped test car with its list price of £27,535 (there was another £3,000 plus in extras but these can be ignored, as we did) makes a mockery of anything in a Mercedes price list and anyone who thinks paying more that the Insignia’s list price just to get a badge deserves to reap the losses they sow.

The biggest drawback of the swoopy styling is the restricted front head height which means that if you’re only moderately tall you have to crane your neck to get in. But, once seated, the car is comfortable enough for most people except those really broad in the beam who will find the seat bolsters a little too friendly.

It’s a penalty some might be prepared to pay, but not us although we may fairly be regarded as old curmudgeons.

Younger buyers will certainly be awestruck by the CT which, with its big wheels, black wheel arch trims, and low roofline enjoys an amazing side profile. There’s wonderful detail, too, such as the way the roof bars descend through the tail light clusters and take an outward turn through them at the bottom.

Inside the Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

The test car had the £380 powered tailgate – probably the only option we would take and which can be adjusted for opening height depending on how tall you are. It reveals a huge load length that can be increased by flicking a button on each side to flip the back seat without the usual hassle of needing to lower the headrests. The result is a 1,600 litre load volume.

There’s easy space for five adults in the car, which has huge rear knee room even with the front seats pushed well back and, amazingly given the shape of the car, there’s decent headroom, too. So if you can get yourself into it, you’re looking at a decent daily driver.

The Country Tourer bit in the name suggests a 4×4 set-up but this is only a model-dependent option and wasn’t fitted to the test car, which came purely with front wheel drive connected to its 170 PS 2.0 turbodiesel.

However, we had asked for an auto transmission and got the new eight speed automatic which was exceptionally smooth apart from sometimes when pulling away.

Most people won’t miss the four-wheel drive while those who need it will find a sophisticated system with torque vectoring to avoid wheel spin.

What they will like more is the 42 mpg average of the test car, an excellent return if you, as we did, make the most advantage of its performance.

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Car: Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 Turbo 170 PS Auto

Does it fit your ego…

0-62 mph: 8.8 secs

Top speed: 135 mph

PS: 170 @ 3750 rpm

Torque: 400 Nm @ 1750 – 2500 rpm …and your wallet…

Price: £27,535

Combined: 47.1 mpg

CO2 emissions: 157 g/km

Best bits: Mercedes style without the cost

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