A rugged approach to taking the high ground
Martin Brennan on how Opel is going after the country set
Luxury cars and estates are more in demand these days as the economy grows and finances and personal contract purchase agreements are more readily approved by banks.
Opel has a top-end model in their Insignia line-up which is attracting attention. The Country Tourer now comes with all-wheel drive (AWD), and the crossover estate body-style is gaining favour with those who shy away from the high-rise bulky SUV configurations. The Insignia has won praise for its frugal two-litre diesel power plant and the brand is gaining attention for engine developments (a new one-litre unit is on the way) and improvements in the model line-up.
The Insignia range generally has a good level of equipment, but the Country Tourer gets some special treatment. It is much more spacious for carrying big loads and the cargo area is impressive when the seats are down. The exterior gets a more rugged look and the stance is higher in the AWD version. The test model came with a seamless automatic transmission which makes light work of city driving, but will add to the cost and the fuel bills.
Behind the wheel the driver gets use of an 8" touchscreen infortainment system, which includes sat nav as well as Opel's Intellilink system, which adds Bluetooth and voice recognition. Further driver assistance and comfort comes from the FlexiRide, which gives suspension settings to suit urban cruising, rough terrain and high-speed motorway driving. The seating position is higher than in the saloon and hatchback versions and the instrument cluster is bright and easy to read. Safety features are good, with the cruise control and speed limiter being very useful.
The AWD system was surprising light but, combined with an automatic transmission version, will undoubtedly hit the wallet at the fuel pumps. The two-litre CDTI turbo-diesel power plant puts out 163bhp and develops a useful 380Nm of torque. The two-wheel-drive version which would suit most Irish drivers is priced at €35,495, with prices rising to €40,995 for the AWD with automatic transmission. The road tax is €570, but just €390 for manual transmission.
The test model came with luxury items such as sports seats in leather and items such as a driver assistance pack and this pushed the price to €46,000, which will limit the appeal at this level.
The Insignia range generally is a reliable investment, with proven diesel economy, but the top-end high spec'd Country Tourer versions make less economic sense.