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Boot-scootin’ Opel heads off-road

Wild life: Opel’s Insignia-based Country Tourer is a long way from arriving in Australia.

Opel’s Insignia-based Country Tourer has long road ahead before reaching Australia

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Opel logo4 Jul 2013

By BARRY PARK

GERMAN premium car newcomer Opel has gone all country and western, revealing a jacked-up, big booted, twin-turbocharged version of its Insignia mid-sized car.

The Opel Insignia Country Tourer, as the new addition to the line-up is known, will be officially unveiled at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

“While its Sports Tourer sibling is an elegant family and business station wagon, the new Insignia Country Tourer expresses an innate desire for adventure,” Opel said in a statement announcing the new model.

“The athletic all-rounder, with its higher ground clearance, provides freedom beyond the constraints of city limits and asphalt roads.” Details reveal that the Country Tourer will have more than just a passing nod to off-road ability.

The soft-roader gains an extra 20mm ground clearance – an important consideration for any rugged off-road adventure, but coming off an already low, ground-hugging base in Insignia Sport Tourer form – and it will have front and rear underbody bash plates to protect its guts from rocks, and all-wheel-drive grip for slippery gravel- and snow-covered surfaces.

But it won’t be a shrinking violet on the open road. Under the bonnet, a direct-injected, twin-turbo 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 184kW of power – almost the same output as Holden’s 3.0-litre V6-engined Commodore Evoke – and a stonking 400Nm of stump-pulling torque.

It is mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

If burning oil is more your thing, there’s the choice of a 143kW 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine that also produces 400Nm of torque. It is paired only to the six-speed auto.

A cheaper option is likely to be the single-turbo diesel version, producing a still healthy 120kW of power and up to 380Nm of torque via an overboost function that adds a bit more growl to the default 350Nm serve. It has the choice of the manual gearbox or auto transmission.

Slated for a European release next year, Opel Australia head of marketing and public relations Michelle Lang said the Country Tourer was definitely on the wanted list for Australia, although it could be a long wait.

“Crossovers are interesting as they offer a fresh alternative to SUVs/MPVs and to that end, I could see this vehicle complementing the local line-up nicely, but that would be a long, long way off,” Ms Lang said.

“It's being revealed in Frankfurt so we will watch how it sells in Europe closely and the market reaction generally, before we put our hand up for it.” If it does arrive, expect its big-engine performance numbers to push it up to the higher end of the city-friendly soft-roader segment, where it will take on the likes of the $57,490 3.6-litre boxer-engined Subaru Outback.

If it does arrive, it won’t be the first Opel-badged car to live in the city but yearn for outback adventure.

Opel is due to launch its compact Mokka SUV later this year, taking on the likes of Skoda’s $26,290 Yeti and Subaru’s $28,490 XV.

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