Winning towcars in it for long haul
15:26 10 October 2015
It was pulling power to the fore, both towing ability and meeting the needs of caravanners, at the industry’s most prestigious towcar competition with a haul of awards awaiting the winners.
Caravan Club towcar class winners
Up to £17,500 – MG6 S DTI-Tech
This keenly-priced, front-wheel drive MG surprised a few judges with its more-than-capable towing performance around the challenging Millbrook course. It boasts a generous 100kg noseweight limit and impressive boot space. The hill start was “very good for a front wheel drive car”.
£17,500 to £22,000 – Renault Captur Dynamique Nav dCi 110
The Captur completed the challenging hill route with ease and the judges said that it was good to see that “light weight, economic cars can make great towcars!” The boot offered easy access and generous storage space.
£22,000 to £26,000 – Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion Technology 150PS DSG
Being crowned overall champion in 2012 and 2013, it was perhaps no surprise that the Jetta SE took a class win this year. “By golly, it’s swallowed the lot!” This judge’s comment says it all about the Jetta’s load capacity.
£26,000 to £30,000 – Škoda Octavia Estate Scout 2.0TDI 150PS 4x4
“This would make a fantastic vehicle for a caravanning family. It boasts loads of boot space and legroom” – the Octavia impressed the judges with its cavernous luggage-carrying credentials and rock-solid stability. It was a great all-round performer.
£30,000 to £40,000 – Volkswagen Passat Estate GT 2.0-litre TDI SCR 190PS DSG
With a capacious boot, a 90kg noseweight and a 100kg roof load limit, the Passat put in an exceedingly strong showing. Judges said that the drive was “very comfortable”.
£40,000 to £50,000 – Volkswagen Touareg R-Line 3.0-litre V6 TDI 262PS 4Motion
The Touareg impressed the caravanability judges. With a noseweight limit of 140kg and powerful 3.0-litre engine, the judges called it the ‘Oliver’ of towcars, as it just keeps asking for more!”
More than £50,000 – Land Rover Discovery HSE LUX (also winner of all-wheel drive more than 1,800kg and Towcar of the Year 2016)
The Land Rover Discovery completed this test with ease, landing a class win, a category win and the overall Towcar of the Year Award. It boasted “rock-solid stability”, great all-round visibility and a colossal amount of luggage space. With a generous 150kg noseweight limit, self-levelling and height-adjustable suspension and a full-size spare wheel, the Discovery is well deserving of this title.
All-wheel drive under 1,800kg – Volkswagen Passat Estate GT 2.0-litre Bi-TDI SCR 240PS 4Motion
The towing performance and traction of the Passat 4Motion were described as “faultless”. The boot consumed all of our typical caravanning gear, and a 100kg roof load limit to spare.
Judges’ award for innovation – Volkswagen
Volkswagen took this award for its fantastic Trailer Assist system, which allows the driver to reverse the car and trailer into position by simply adjusting the door mirror control and operating the throttle.
Land Rover’s luxury Discovery sport utility vehicle took a well-deserved, first overall win in The Caravan Club Towcar of the Year contest – the industry’s most prestigious towcar competition.
The competition’s 43 entrants, which were split into seven price classes and two weight categories, ranged from the MG6 S DTI-Tech, the under £17,500 class winner at just £14,347, to the Land Rover Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography coming in at a whopping £97,700.
Out of a diverse entry list, the Land Rover Discovery HSE LUX sat at the top as more than £50,000 class winner, all-wheel drive more than 1,800kg category victor and The Caravan Club Towcar of the Year 2016.
Each towcar endured a gruelling series of trials – being judged not only on their towing performance over the testing circuit at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, but also for their ‘caravanability’. This measures how well the car holds up to caravanners’ needs – how much typical holiday gear and caravan essentials it can accommodate, how easily it can be hooked up to a caravan and the quality of towing information available in its handbook. Also added to the marking equation was the towcar’s value for money.
The cars entered were carefully scrutinised to ensure that they conformed to the exact specification declared on the entry documentation. Five expert drivers assessed each car’s towing characteristics including acceleration, braking and the ability to cope with demanding hill starts. A further two driving judges performed mid-range 30-60mph and 40-60mph acceleration tests on each vehicle. Another team of two ‘caravanability’ judges evaluated each entrant’s usability in terms of everyday caravanning – would it carry a set of awning poles, for instance, and do you have to get on your hands and knees to connect the caravan electrics?
The test route included tight and twisty ‘country lanes’, 17% hill stops and starts, as well as circuits of a high-speed bowl. They were also put through reversing tests. These four days of rigorous evaluation highlighted that every vehicle could be considered a respectable towcar, so long as it was properly matched to its caravan.
Caravans used during testing were supplied by Bailey of Bristol, and loaded to 85% of the relevant car’s kerbweight, or the car’s towing limit if that figure was lower. Noseweights were set at 7% of the caravan’s actual laden weight, or the car or tow hitch’s maximum limit, whichever was lowest. Raclet supplied a lightweight Silver caravan for vehicles towing under 1,000kg.
Trenville Chamberlain, Caravan Club chairman said: “It was great to see such a diverse variety of vehicles entered into the competition this year. There is a vehicle choice for everyone’s needs, whether you tow a small trailer tent or a large twin-axle caravan. On behalf of The Caravan Club, our congratulations go to all the winners and a special mention must go to Land Rover for its triumphant Discovery. I am sure we will see our competition entrants on club sites in the near future.”
For more information about The Caravan Club’s Towcar of the Year competition please visit www.caravanclub.co.uk/news-and-events/awards/towcar-of-the-year-awards