If you had of asked me a few months back what was the best car Opel make I probably would have veered towards the Astra GTC. I have been lucky enough to test pretty much everything they offer but the GTC always seemed like the best car to drive, look at, and live with. Last week my opinions changed for good, and I can safely say the new Country Tourer is not only the best car Opel make, but also the best raised wagon available on the Irish market. If you are looking for a practical car that oozes class then look no further and let me give you a few reasons why. First off, stand back and just look at it! Estate or Wagon derived 4×4 cars usually look like freshly born giraffes sitting too tall on spindly little legs or ‘wheels’ in this case.
Opel has raised the already good looking Insignia 20mm, fitted rugged plastic armour and filled each arch with 18-inch diamond cut alloys wrapped in 235 width threads with 50mm sidewalls for comfort. This handsome profile is complimented further by the angular headlights and grilles, which were part of the recent facelift. From the rear the slopped wagon just simply works and for me looks even better than the saloon. Pressing the electronic boot opening mechanism will wow you even more as 1,530 litres of space becomes available. Another set of taillights housed neatly each side of the boot adds an element of safety should you need access to the boot at the roadside. Another cool addition on my test vehicle was the electronic tow hitch. Simply pull a lever under the rear bumper and a tow bar appears with the capacity to tow over two tonne.
Inside the premium grade materials adorn the cabin with supportive heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel and a de-cluttered dash. Opel has removed many of the buttons in favour of a simplified climate control interface with an 8-inch screen above. This unit is touch sensitive but can also be controlled via the centre console mounted touchpad. Whilst it is cool, the sensitivity of the touchpad does take a bit of getting used too. For me the main focal point as it should be is the dash or rather the crystal clear screen that sits in front of the driver. At first you won’t even notice but the analogue dials displayed are actually digital and it has many clear concise functions that are easily controlled from the steering wheel buttons. Aside from flicking through your audio and trip computer you can even inset the navigating within the speedometer, which is just superb. Overall its intuitive and well thought out.
The push button start brings the silent 2.0-litre turbo diesel to life and with 163hp you will find it happily cruises the motorway returning up to 50.4mpg and touching 100km/h in 10.9 seconds. These are good figures for a car weighing close on 1,800kg and they are partly due to the clever all wheel drive system. The Country Tourer splits drive 95% to the front and 5% to the rear wheels offering ample grip. Drivers can also opt for Sport mode, which sends 70% to the front and 30% power to the rear sharpening up the steering along with throttle response. Tour mode can also be selected but it makes the car far too sedate for me. Should we have another harsh winter with snow the electronic rear differential won’t let you down either. Opel state the Country Tourer is capable of sending up to 95% of its torque to the rear wheel with the most traction to get you out of tricky conditions adding further peace of mind. I really enjoyed my time with the Country Tourer but what will Opel’s best offering cost you? Well, entry into the Country Tourer starts at €37,995 but add the few bells and whistles that my test version had and you will pay €42,310. Is it worth this money? In my opinion, it is because it feels and drives like a luxury grand tourer with off road capabilities and not many cars offer that!
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