Lizzie PopeSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by Lizzie Pope
Go-anywhere ability isn’t just the preserve of SUVs.
With an extra 20mm of ground clearance, four-wheel drive with torque vectoring and a trick new rear suspension set-up that precisely meters the right amount of power to each wheel, it’s ready to take on the muddiest of out-of-the-way campsites, all year round.
Value for money
So if you don’t want to join the ever-increasing number of SUVs on British roads but need all-terrain ability, you have options.
However, being priced from £25,635 OTR with the 4x4 variant from £27,235, when the VW Passat Alltrack starts at over £30k, gives the Country Tourer a head start on its competitors.
But what else does it bring to the party and what tow car potential does it offer caravanners?
Refreshingly, Vauxhall has kept things simple.
This version of the Insignia will be sold only in the estate body shape, there is just one trim level and it’s only available with diesel power.
The engine is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged unit with 168bhp at 3750rpm plus 295lb ft torque deployed usefully low, between 1750 and 2500rpm. A 207bhp variant is coming next month.
You can have either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox, and if you want the 4x4 version you’ll get the manual transmission.
Well kitted out
It’s easy to tell the Country Tourer apart from the rest of the Insignia range, because it wears anthracite wheel arch and side sill extensions, to give it a more rugged look and protect the body when the going gets gloopy or prickly.
Or at least it would be if our test car wasn’t as-near-as-doesn’t-matter black (Dark Moon Blue, in Vauxhall speak, a £655 option).
But this might be worth bearing in mind, because if you fancy one of these but aren’t keen on the extra swathes of plastic wrapped around it, choosing a dark colour is a useful way to hide those protective strips.
In addition, the front and rear bumpers have silver-effect skid plates and you get roof bars in a similar finish.
Also fitted as standard are front and rear parking sensors, air conditioning, dual-zone electronic climate control, an eight-inch colour touchscreen, sat nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry and start, six airbags, automatic lights and these 18-inch, bi-colour alloy wheels.
You get a tyre inflation kit as standard, a full-sized (albeit 17-inch) spare is a £110 option.
The Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer is based on the Insignia Sports Tourer which we’ve recently put through a full tow test, in which it achieved a strong, 3.5-star rating.
That Sports Tourer was also powered by the 1956cc, 168bhp diesel, so is a useful point of reference.
And like its stablemate, its aforementioned price and weight are two areas in which the Country Tourer excels.
For the 168bhp model, non-4x4 cars have a 1666kg kerbweight, while the four-wheel-drive version, as tested, is 1716kg, giving healthy 85% match figures of 1416kg and 1458kg respectively.
All models have a 90kg towball limit. The maximum towing limit is 1950kg for the non-4x4 manual, 1700kg for the non-4x4 auto and an impressive 2200kg for this, the 4x4 version.
Smart and spacious
You enjoy the same, high-quality interior in the Country Tourer as in the rest of the new Insignia line-up.
It feels sufficiently premium to compete with rivals and, as mentioned earlier, it is well-specced, too.
There’s lots of space in here, with a good level of seat and steering-wheel adjustment for the driver.
Rear-seat space doesn’t disappoint, either, although if you’ve got three across the back, the person in the middle will have to fight for legroom in the four-wheel-drive version, due to the transmission tunnel.
Boot capacity starts at 560 litres with all five seats in place and tops out at 1665 litres.
On the road
The 168bhp turbodiesel engine is the star of the show when driving the new Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer.
It is a cracking unit that delivers serious punch when accelerating, but without any histrionics or an overbearing soundtrack.
And, as established in our Sports Tourer tow test, even when hitched to a twin-axle caravan you’ll enjoy keen acceleration.
It makes you wonder why you’d need the soon-to-arrive 207bhp version.
And like its stablemate it is a pleasing and comfortable car to drive, with a clean turn-in and direct steering.
A tow car for all seasons
But it’s not all good.
You have to really want the four-wheel drive and/or the extra ground clearance to make sense of the Country Tourer – and to make a case for it over the competent Sports Tourer.
It’s not just some extra plastic that makes the former stand out, because on the road it suffers due to that raised ride height.
That isn’t to say it is a disaster – far from it. But the ride is firmer, and it feels more floaty and less tied down over undulations than the Sports Tourer.
The difference isn’t night and day, but it is perceptible, and is likely to be accentuated when towing.
However, if you want to buck the SUV trend and you need a heavy, affordable, all-terrain tow car, it’s well worth putting the new Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer on your shortlist.