Long haul to top as tow cars tested to limit
- Credit: Tow Car Awards
What makes a good tow car? The Tow Car Awards 2017 put 44 cars through their paces with a series of rigorous driving performance and pracicality tests to find out if the only hitch is the one the caravan hooks up to.
A comprehensive series of gruelling trials, designed to push cars to their limits, revealed the best tow cars which real pulling power.
Altogether 44 cars entered for 13 awards – with 12 separate categories and one overall winner – with the rigorous tests on a private track providing valuable insights of their towing abilities to car buyers.
The results of the Tow Car Awards 2017, organised and judged by experts from What Car? and Practical Caravan magazines and the Camping and Caravanning Club, reveal this year's top cars for towing, with a unique archive of full reviews of nearly 500 cars tested since the first Tow Car Awards in 2007 available at www.thetowcarawards.com to help new and used car buyers make the most informed choices.
To create the most informative towing reviews, the 44 cars entered for this year's competition were judged for a total of 13 awards by separating them into five categories according to their kerbweight – from up to 1,400kg to more than 1,900kg – seven special awards according to the type of vehicle and then one overall winner.
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Every vehicle tows a caravan or trailer weighted to 85% of the car's kerbweight – or its maximum towing limit, if lower – and is put through a rigorous test programme in the safe surroundings of a private proving ground in Warwickshire. It's not just about their outright performance though, as each car is also scored for its practicality, driving solo and costs of buying and owning.
This year's winners range in size, and price, from the mighty, new Land Rover Discovery to the more humble Hyundai i30 hatchback, with a mix of hybrids, multi-purpose vehicles, estates and 4x4 models in between.
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This was the first towing competition for the new Land Rover Discovery and it continued the success of the previous model by winning its more than 1,900kg weight class as well as being chosen as the overall winner.
The judges said: 'As an all-rounder, it sets a new benchmark.'
Jaguar and S?koda collected two awards each for the successful combination of performance and practicality for their latest models.
The new Jaguar F-Pace was another car tested for the first time at these awards, while the XF saloon won its weight class again.
The latest S?koda Octavia and the Superb rose to the top of their weight categories again, with the Superb also winning the fuel economy award, while Ford, Audi, Suzuki, Volkswagen and Volvo also achieved category wins.
The caravans used for the towing exercises are supplied by the UK's biggest manufacturer, the Swift Group. Any stabiliser hitches as standard are disabled or replaced with basic ones to ensure the judges feel any instability created during the rigorous test programme which is designed to push the brakes, handling and engines of the cars to their limits.
This includes testing high-speed stability beyond the legal limit, slalom and emergency lane-changes, acceleration and braking tests, plus a hill start on a one-in-six slope. The cars are also scored on how well they can accommodate a typical load for a touring holiday, plus buying and running costs, and what they're like to drive when not towing based on What Car?'s reviews.
David Motton, tow car editor of Practical Caravan magazine, said: 'All the winners of the Tow Car Awards 2017, whether they are big or small, have shown us that they're particularly good as an overall package to tow, own and live with every day.
'There can only be a limited number of winners, but as you can see from the full reports on www.thetowcarawards.com, many of today's best-selling cars also performed extremely well. However, when it came to choosing this year's overall winner it had to be the new Land Rover Discovery as it sets a new benchmark as an impressive all-rounder.'
Julia Bradbury, TV presenter and president of the Camping and Caravanning Club, said: 'The Camping and Caravanning Club is delighted to have co-produced the Tow Car Awards for the 11th year. These results give really useful information for anyone choosing a car to tow with, to make touring as safe and relaxing as possible.
'A big thanks to all the judges and our members who volunteered to help make the event such a success.'
The Camping and Caravanning Club is the world's oldest club for all forms of camping. It has more than 100 award-winning club Sites across the UK and represents nearly 600,000 campers.
For more information visit campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
2017 Tow Car Awards winners
Up to 1,400kg – S?koda Octavia Estate 2.0 TDI 150PS SE L DSG.
1,400 to 1,549kg – S?koda Superb 2.0 TDI 150PS SE L Executive.
1,550 to 1,699kg – Jaguar XF 2.0 i4 180PS RWD Portfolio Auto.
1,700 to 1,899kg – Jaguar F-Pace 3.0d 300PS AWD S.
More than 1,900kg – Land Rover Discovery 3.0 Td6 HSE.
Best ultralight tow car – Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi 140PS Premium.
Best petrol tow car – Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI 252PS Quattro S-tronic.
Best MPV – Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi 180PS Titanium.
Fuel economy award – S?koda Superb 2.0 TDI 150PS SE L Executive.
Best budget 4x4 – Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.4 BoosterJet Allgrip SZ5 4x4 Auto.
Best pick-up – Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 TDI 224PS 4Motion Aventura Auto.
Best hybrid – Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Momentum.
Overall winner – Land Rover Discovery 3.0 Td6 HSE.