By Mike Torpey on 2018-04-13 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Country Tourer 2.0
Turbo D 4x4
AT one time there was just a single word that left no one in any doubt - Estate.
The workmanlike model was for families who needed exceptional amounts of space, company reps and small business owners like antique dealers and saddlery suppliers.
But times change - and as classic estate car sales have been put under increasing pressure by the rise of the SUV, the estate itself has spread out into various niches.
Take volume carmaker Vauxhall and its popular Insignia range as an example - Estate has become Tourer and that in itself has expanded into Sports Tourer and, most recently, Country Tourer.
The latter, which hit UK streets last November, sits at the top of Vauxhall's passenger car range and competes with premium rivals like the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and Audi Allroad.
It costs from£25,635 and is more spacious and considerably lighter than its predecessor, as well as heralding a range of fresh technologies.
Anyone needing to negotiate some light off-road work, like muddy fields and rutted tracks, will appreciate the slightly longer wheelbase, 20mms of extra ride height and rugged black body cladding that comes as standard, while splashing out another £1,600 brings four-wheel drive.
Of course you don't buy estate cars if carrying capacity isn't an issue and if, as we did, you need to help empty a relative's house - and negotiate a dirt track to get there - then the Country Tourer is the perfect conveyance.
It's genuinely staggering how much clobber you can stash - from carpets to cabinets - in this car.
For ease of loading, the tailgate can be opened with a simple kicking motion under the rear bumper - a silhouette projected onto the ground even shows the correct area - with just another kicking motion needed to close it.
And to boost the load space to a whopping 1,665 litres, some 135 litres more than the outgoing version, the new Country Tourer comes with 40/20/40 foldable rear seats, while its roof rails can cope with an extra 100kg.
Beneath the bonnet is a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine developing 170PS via either an eight-speed automatic gearbox or the tested version's six-speed manual.
Smooth, near silent and refined, the big Vauxhall not only looks sleek and attractive but is also good fun to drive. It's efficient too, our predominantly urban driving returning an average fuel figure of 35.7 miles per gallon.
You can also try out the car's FlexRide settings configuring the suspension for either Tour or Sports mode, altering its character from comfortable to firm.
There's certainly plenty of kit and comfort for your cash with the Country Tourer, the likes of eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, 18-inch alloys, adaptive dampers, auto lighting control, keyless entry/start, front and rear parking sensors and autonomous emergency braking as standard.
Also included is connectivity and service assistant Vauxhall OnStar, bringing services ranging from automatic crash response to stolen vehicle assistance plus a new concierge service for booking hotel rooms. And up to seven devices can be connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot.
: 3yrs/60,000 miles
Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer 2.0 Turbo D 4x4 BlueInjection S/S
Mechanical: 170PS, 1,956cc, 4-cyl turbo diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 135mph
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 43.5
Insurance Group: 172g/km
C02 emissions: 36%
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