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Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, front mud 2
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, front mud
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, static front
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, front action
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, front action 2
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, in town
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, side action
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, rear seats
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, front seats
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, dashboard
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, rear action
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer, boot

VAUXHALL can't have heard about the demise of diesel; the new range topping Insignia Country Tourer comes with nothing else.

In fact, there isn't even a choice of engine until a second one arrives in a few weeks. And that's a diesel too.

Of course, Vauxhall knows diesels are going to be around for years and the overhyped stories that diesel is in its death throws are simply nonsense.

Which is just as well if you enjoy your driving, for the newcomer is probably the best car Vauxhall currently makes.

For a £1,355 premium over the normal Sport Tourer you gain four-wheel drive in the most expensive version, while all of them have a gently raised ride height (+20mm) and the macho black plastic cladding and silver skid plates that these days signifies a car with the ability to handle a slippery forest track.

The result is a big car, more than five metres long, that socks it to the likes of Audi's Allroad and the VW Passat Alltrack but for thousands less, starting the three car range at £25,635.

All of them share a 168bhp 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine and the ability to touch 135mph and hit 62mph in around nine seconds while managing better than 43mpg in the official test.

A 210 horsepower diesel arrives shortly and automatic gears are already an option in a Country Tourer in front-drive form. Order the 4x4 (£27,235) and you'll have a car that is mostly front wheel drive most of the time but can switch power to the back wheels in an instant when slip is detected.

Beneath the new body cladding sits a car with enough space in the rear seat to act a stand-in limo and a boot that varies from generous (560 litres) with the seat back upright to vast (1,665 litres) with it folded down.

Lack of room will never be a problem here. Nor will the fittings and fixtures that come with a car Vauxhall perches at the pinnacle of the Insignia range.

As befits the poshest model there are a host of standard features, from a tailgate that opens with a well aimed kicking motion under the rear bumper to roof rails that can cope with loads up to 100kg.

You and your passengers should never feel a wintry chill in this car, with heated front seats as standard and outer rear seats as an option along with the option of a heated steering wheel for the driver and a heated windscreen to quickly banish early morning frost.

Standard kit also includes a fine satellite navigation, cruise control, leather faced seats, 19ins alloy wheels, panoramic camera and Vauxhall's OnStar system that gives you a wi-fi hotspot in the car and automatic crash response if the worst happens.

But this version of the Insignia goes well beyond its specification and turns into an enjoyable drive as soon as you head off down the road, a potent and easy-going diesel engine mating with a precise manual gearchange to provide a car with genuine punch.

On a properly surfaced road, even in pouring rain, you're unlikely ever to trigger the 4x4 system into instant action. But come a winter chill or a muddy lane in deepest February and you might be very glad that your Country Tourer will take care of things for you.

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