Best-dressed Tourer invites compliments, but watch cost
I am going to get into trouble for this, but it is the only way I can help explain a few things about this car, the Opel Insignia Country Tourer. Here goes. You know when the wedding invitation lands? Generally, the first thought in men's minds is, "Ah! A good feed and plenty of drink". The First thought in women's minds? "I'll have to get a new outfit. I can't wear the cream suit and the hat Julie gave me for Mary's wedding."
Perfectly good 'old' clothes gather dust while fortunes are spent on new ones. That's the way things are. It's a sensitive area. There's more than pride involved. It's a statement of wellbeing - a badge. It's personal.
The Insignia Country Tourer reminds me a bit of the new wedding outfit. You don't really need one, there are better 4x4 estates out there and it is too expensive for my realistic measure of expenditure. But it is, as I said, a statement. And a statement not so much by a potential owner - more so by Opel, who would like to be perceived as worthy of occupying a seat at one of motoring's top tables.
It's a marshalling of many things into one - from one of the cleverest tow bars you've ever seen to one of the most 'intelligent' connectivity/apps/interfaces around - and showing it off on its big day.
I also think it is very much in tune with another emerging fashion. Lots of people in the business tell me there's a far greater interest in having all-wheel-drive, or four-wheel-drive, in saloons and estates these days. It gives better grip, traction and balance on ordinary roads as well as slippery ones. There can be a penalty to pay in higher mpg, but nothing too heavy, it seems.
Anyway, let's leave aside the price for the moment (how often has that been said in clothes shops and boutiques?). What exactly would this Country Tourer do for you?
Well, it's big, roomy, comfortable and taller than the estate it is based on. And it has that new two-litre diesel engine that's a match for anything else out there.
You get a lot of bling (see specs) and a more-than-decent drive. You also get some 4x4 stuff. You can imagine you're driving an off-roader, but really you're not. You're driving a tarmac-hugging, large, tall, beefed- up estate that will give you a lot of pull with a horsebox, boat or caravan. And you'll have no bother yoking them up. The towbar swivels out and slots into place so easily. And when you don't need it, you just push it back - no lumps knocked off your shins with this car. Great idea.
The Tourer's extra ground clearance also means it will tip across a field for you fairly handy too, and you won't be worried about scraping the underneath (they have special protection). The FlexRide system also worked well. This is the chassis control system that adapts to driving conditions. You can choose from the modes Sport (sharp), Tour (comfort) and Normal (whatever it happens to be).
I must say that, financial reservations apart, I enjoyed driving this. Indeed, far from country touring, I covered a lot of ground grinding in and out of heavy city traffic. It was a big-distance eater too - skimming over the motorway at ease. I like that diesel engine.
The IntelliLink system let me have sat-nav, play music, make hands-free calls etc. There was also voice control (not so successful with me) and a touch-pad control (bit clunky).
It's the sort of car you could put to a variety of uses. The luggage area is huge and flexible, and despite what they say about ground clearance, it really didn't look much taller. Which sort of begs the question, I posed at the outset: why would you bother with it in the first place?
Sampling its series of achievements was hugely interesting for me, but I wouldn't pay that sort of money for the privilege of ownership. Still, it was fun. I can see Opel benefiting from it as a sort of shop window of its ability. A bit like the wedding outfit, it costs a bit, but gives the right sort of impression. And as any invitee will admit, that's worth any money.
Opel Insignia Country Tourer
*2.0CDTi 16v (163bhp) start/stop 2-litre, 163bhp (4.3l/100km, 147 g/km, road tax €390, Top speed: 205kmh, 0-100kmh in 10.9 secs).
* Standard equipment includes: 18ins diamond-cut bi-colour alloys, sat-nav/ IntelliLink system(8ins colour touch-screen video playback), voice and touch-pad control, adaptive 4x4, 8ins multi-colour graphic driver display cluster, Bluetooth connectivity, hands free audio streaming, auto wipers/lighting control, electronic climate control digital radio and more.
* Options include metallic paint (€535), special towing bar pack (€880), Winter pack €561, Driver Assistance Pack €1,050 etc.
* Price: €37,995. Including options €42,310. Insignia prices start from €24,995.