The Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Pro has won this year’s overall trophy and also triumphed in the Caravan Weight 1400kg-1500kg category in the 37th Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year Competition.
The industry’s premier towcar awards saw Volvo win back-to-back titles for the first time, while an all-electric Jaguar made a significant competition breakthrough. The compact and stylish SUV impressed the judges around Millbrook Proving Ground’s tight and twisting ‘country lanes’ with consummate ease, and also proved rock-solid when pushed faster around the high-speed bowl.
The 36 entrants were put into caravan weight categories – rather than being listed by price – to make it easier for buyers to know which cars could tow their caravans. Cars were entered into classes using their 85% kerbweight figure or by their towing limit, whichever was the lower. The competition had six weight classes, two Family Towcar categories as well as Pick-Up and Alternatively Fuelled categories.
The complete winners’ line-up is as follows:
Each car was put through its paces at the Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford, which provides a variety of testing driving environments. Manufacturers were invited to submit for testing any vehicle that was capable of towing a trailer over 750kg and on sale on 1 October 2019.
The Club’s technical team thoroughly checked each vehicle before handing it over to the ‘caravanability’ and driving judges.
Caravanability judges tested whether a car’s boot could swallow the bulky accessories normally needed on a caravan trip. They also measured the towball height, both solo and hitched up, and checked the towing information provided in the manufacturer’s handbook.
The cars were then hitched up to caravans ballasted to 85% of their kerbweight, or towing limit if lower. Using specialised apparatus the technical judges then measured the cars’ acceleration and braking capabilities. The car/caravan combinations were then passed over to the driving judges who set off around the Millbrook circuit to put the vehicles through their paces.
The cars were tested at speeds of up to 55mph on the ‘Alpine route’, which featured various gradients culminating in a 17% hill start and a 26% downhill brake test. The ability to join fast traffic from a standstill was also assessed.
Judges then took the vehicles to the high-speed bowl to further assess their capabilities at speeds in excess of UK legal limits. In the safety of a controlled environment, the judges could induce some instability at 60mph to see how the cars reacted. The vehicles were also put through reversing examinations. All-important issues of driver and passenger comfort and visibility were also assessed.
The results of the competition were announced at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year Awards ceremony, held at the Royal Automobile Club in London on 20 September. The awards were presented by British racing driver Mark Blundell. Blundell competed in Formula One for four seasons, won the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans, was an ITV F1 presenter and this year he made his return to the race track on the grid for the British Touring Car Championship. He also spent time at Millbrook to see how the judging process was carried out.
Grenville Chamberlain OBE, Caravan and Motorhome Club Chairman, said: “Here at the Caravan and Motorhome Club we are proud of our 37-year heritage with this competition and the wealth of data and information we are able to offer people on their choice of towcar. Our sincere congratulations go to all the worthy winners in the Caravan and Motorhome Club Towcar of the Year 2020.”
Mark Blundell commented, “It was great to be back with the Caravan and Motorhome Club for this competition. The level of testing and assessment they put the vehicles through really is second-to-none. This was my second time at Millbrook Proving Ground for the competition, and while hybrid cars have regularly competed this year saw the first all-electric vehicle take an award.”