TOURER DE FORCE
Opel's Tourer is the jewel in its crown - and it'll make you feel like royalty, says Philip Hedderman
As far as mud pluggers go the Insignia is probably the best looking of all.
Called the Country Tourer, (if you don't mind) I'm sure it'd take umbrage at my use of such crude language - and rightly so.
Yes this "fine old girl" has pedigree and, above all, class.
So much so, you'll probably give it a name like Gertrude or Giddy for short and refer to "her" in the third person.
You see, although a fully-fledged all-roader, Giddy would be more at home at a pheasant shoot than dragging a trailer and certainly more accustomed to carrying a picnic basket (including a bottle of Bolly), wax cotton jackets and matching green Wellingtons than vulgar boxes of bric-a-brack.
Now, I don't know whether it's the olive-green paint, the wall-to-wall leather or the subtle 4X4 badge on the tailgate, but it certainly gives you notions about yourself.
All you want to do is drive into a slightly muddy field, sit on the boot lip, legs dangling, chomping on cucumber sarnies and chat in a very posh accent.
There's no doubting that if one should have to downsize then this is the perfect replacement for the Range Rover. Assuming you actually do have to work for a living, and more importantly need a vehicle to do the same, then the Insignia ticks all the right boxes.
Although in production for the last six years, the styling is still crisp.
With a facelift late last year, the estate is the jewel in Opel's crown with a wider grille, new headlights and sleeker, flowing roofline sweeping to the rear.
Tinted rear windows tame down the sheer length giving it a sportier silhouette.
The 4X4 gets a more rugged look with raised suspension giving an extra 20mm ground clearance coupled with aluminium-look skid plates front and rear and thick rubber mouldings that run around the wheel arches and the flanks of the car.
Inside, it's a similar affair to the saloon except for the instrument cluster which is taken from the futuristic Ampera offering sharper graphics and readouts which are especially noticeable on sat-nav. Build quality in the cabin is second to none and is truly Germanic where every button lever and switch has a sturdy indestructable feel to it.
There's lots of goodies in here too with the Intellilink system housing all your music, sat nav, Bluetooth and vehicle information via an 8-inch colour touchscreen with video playback and voice control.
Other kit on our test car included 18 inch two-tone alloys, climate control, parking sensors, cruise control, headlamp washers, fog lights and tyre pressure monitoring. Being an estate it has to be roomy and practical and it doesn't disappoint.
The boot offers a decent 540 litres of luggage space which almost triples to 1,530 litres with the rear seats folded flat. There is a sunken stowage space under the boot floor and a clever Flexorganiser rail and net system (optional extra) stops items rattling around. The automatic tailgate and touch-button close is a godsend as is the retractable towbar (€880) with trailer stability.
So how does it drive?
Pretty good considering exactly what the Country Tourer will be used for.
Thanks to a gutsy, if a little noisy, 2.0-litre diesel engine generating 163bhp and enough torque to pull a house down, towing big loads won't be a issue.
How it handles when it's not working is the real test.
Opel have been clever here with Flexride - an adaptive chassis control in the guises of Sport, Tour and Normal.
Sport is not really all that sporty, but then again estates generally aren't, but in Tour uneven surfaces were a doddle while Normal was remarkably comfortable - especially on long motorway jaunts. Its finest point though is economy - the very thing that puts most aspiring 4X4 owners off straight away.
Not the Insignia which is returning an astounding 50mpg (4.3l/100km) and with emissions of just 147g/km, annual road tax is €390.
Maybe it's time to break open the Bolly.
The Opel Insignia Country Tourer starts at €37,995.