Overall winner: the new Skoda Octavia
If you’re towing a boat, trailer or caravan this summer, then the 2013 Tow Car Awards, announced today, will help you have a safer and more comfortable journey by providing a valuable guide to which cars cope best when asked to pull something behind them.
The results of this year’s competition, run in conjunction with Practical Caravan and What Car? magazines and The Camping and Caravanning Club, prove that smaller, lighter and more economical cars also make great tow cars, with the 2013 overall winner named as a family hatchback – the new Skoda Octavia. It proves you don’t need a hefty 4×4 for towing, as long as the trailer’s weight is always sensibly in proportion to the car.
Responding to the trend of downsizing to smaller, greener or more economical cars, and feedback from consumers wanting to tow camping trailers, a new ‘Best Ultra-Light Tow Car’ award category was introduced this year, won by the humble Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi.
Two other compact and affordable cars also proved winning tow cars. The competition’s ‘Green Award’ was won by the Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES, which scored highly for its excellent fuel economy and stable towing, and the Dacia Duster dCi 110 Ambiance was chosen as the Best Budget 4×4.
A new website, www.practicalcaravan.com/towcar, makes essential reading for anyone buying a car to tow with.
Deciding which of Britain’s best tow cars has the most talent was the task of a panel of expert judges from Practical Caravan and What Car? magazines and the technical department at The Camping and Caravanning Club, with a range of stylish caravans supplied by the UK’s largest manufacturer, the Swift Group.
The cars were grouped into five award categories according to their weight and subjected to a series of tough, dynamic towing tests, including high speed stability, hill starts, an emergency lane-change manoeuvre and an emergency stop.
Each car towed something weighing up to the recommended safe limit of 85 per cent of the car’s ‘kerbweight’ – ranging from a small trailer up to a twin-axle caravan complete with full kitchen, double bed and an ensuite washroom. In addition, winners also have to score well for value for money, safety and practicality.
Other notable winning tow cars include the ‘Best Petrol Car’, the new Mazda 6 Sport saloon, the Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology, winning its class (by weight) for the third year running, and the luxury Jaguar XF 3.0 V6 diesel, which took a class win for the second year in a row, this time with the new Sportbrake model. One model has won its class more than any other and must be the ultimate, tow-anything tow car – the Land Rover Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6.
David Motton, tow car editor of Practical Caravan magazine, said: ‘In order to tow a trailer safely on any road or motorway, it’s vital your tow car is up to the job.
Our tow car tests are extremely demanding. We put cars through dynamic tests to replicate situations we hope most people never have to experience when towing, and our winners are the cars that take this in their stride, as well as being good to drive and practical to own,’ he continued.
Paul Jones, the marketing and communications director of The Camping and Caravanning Club, said: ‘The results of the annual Tow Car Awards are eagerly awaited by our 500,000 members, and feedback from the grass roots of the club has been invaluable in continuing to improve the test programme. The new awards for ultra-light and petrol tow cars have come about in response to requests from our members.’