Tow Car Awards 2016 Picks 10 of Today’s Best Cars for Towing and Its First Tow Car of the Decade.
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or the 10th year running, experts from The Camping and Caravanning Club, plus What Car? and Practical Caravan magazines have been to the MIRA Proving Ground in Warwickshire to vigorously test the towing abilities of some of the latest cars for the Tow Car Awards 2016.
To mark the 10th year of the competition, they also had to decide on the winner of the first Tow Car of the Decade award.
There were 41 cars entered for this year’s competition, ranging from hatchbacks to large 4x4s, judged in five groups according to their kerbweight (from up to 1400kg, to 1900kg or more) as well as for specific titles, including the Green Award, Best MPV, Best Petrol Tow Car and Best Ultralight Tow Car. The judges then had to agree which one of these should become the Overall Winner of the Tow Car Awards 2016.
Every car tows a caravan supplied by the UK’s biggest manufacturer, the Swift Group, or a small trailer, weighted to 85 per cent of the car’s kerbweight (or its maximum towing limit, if lower). Stabilizer hitches are replaced with basic ones to enable the judges to feel any instability during the test programme.
The testing takes advantage of the facilities at the MIRA Proving Ground 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 1-in-6 slope. The cars are also scored on how well they accommodate a typical load for a holiday, their buying and running costs, and what they’re like to drive when not towing.
The results saw a few surprises, with some regular winners beaten by newcomers, giving manufacturers like Honda and Suzuki a taste of tow car success for a change this year. The other winning manufacturers for 2016 include Jaguar, Kia, Ford, Land Rover and Seat, with Skoda taking the top award of Overall Winner for its new Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Best Ultralight Tow Car: Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Allgrip S (£20,899)
Best Petrol Tow Car: Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 EcoBoost (240PS) auto (£30,855)
Best MPV: Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI (184PS) SE Lux DSG (£35,190)
Green Award: Kia Cee’d Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi (134bhp) 2 (£19,895)
Weight class winners
o Up to 1400kg: Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE (£22,440)
o 1400-1549kg: Skoda Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI (150PS) SE Business (£22,555)
o 1550-1699kg: Jaguar XF 2.0 i4D (180PS) Prestige auto (£34,550)
o 1700-1899kg: Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 (180PS) SE Tech auto (£36,350)
o 1900kg+: Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 (256PS) Graphite (£47,505)
Overall Winner: Skoda Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI (150PS) SE Business (£22,555)
Tow Car of the Decade: Land Rover Discovery 4
The accolade of the first Tow Car of the Decade award was given to the Land Rover Discovery 4 for its unrivalled winning record during the last 10 years of competitions.
Choosing an Overall Winner from all these worthy class winners wasn’t easy, but for its exceptional towing ability, value and everyday prowess, one car stood out above the rest – the Skoda Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI 150PS – which also won its 1400-1549kg weight class. Comments such as “the Skoda simply came back for more” were typical of the judge’s comments after every test they put the Superb Hatch through.
As the Best Ultralight Tow Car, with a kerbweight of 1210kg and maximum towing limit of 1200kg, the judges found the Suzuki Vitara’s 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol engine and four-wheel drive delivered impressive power and stability when towing. Another lightweight car, the Honda HR-V, became the new champion of the ‘up to 1400kg’ kerbweight class, and was praised as “a very impressive tow car, keeping composed in high-speed towing and the violent lane-change tests”.
The added refinement and performance of the same, new 2.0D 180PS engine in the new Jaguar XF and the latest Land Rover Discovery Sport powered them both to victory in their weight classes (1550kg to 1699kg, and 1700kg to 1899kg, respectively), together with their impressive towing stability. The Sport’s big brother, the Land Rover Discovery, clocked up yet another win in the heaviest 1900kg+ weight group, but faced its toughest fight yet with competition from fresher rivals such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.
The Best Petrol Tow Car this year was easily the Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 EcoBoost automatic with a mighty 240PS of power providing plenty of mid-range torque and performance, plus stability.
The versatility of people-carriers makes them perfect for leisure hobbies and towing boats, trailers or caravans, and the Best MPV this year was the Seat Alhambra. Not only can it swallow people and loads with ease, its chunkier kerbweight gives it a wider choice of heavier trailers to tow safely.
The Green Award returned for 2016 with cars shortlisted on their official fuel economy figures. It included hybrids as well as petrol and diesels models, with the winner, the Kia Cee’d Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi, delivering particularly fuel economy good results while towing.
David Motton, Tow Car Editor of Practical Caravan magazine said: “After ten years of Tow Car Awards, we’re really proud to have developed the most comprehensive tests, proved how accomplished and safe most cars can be when towing a suitable trailer, and compiled a decade’s worth of useful towing test reports of over 400 cars.
“The winners of the Tow Car Awards 2016 have shown us that they’re particularly good as an overall package. As you can see from the full reports on our website, many of the other cars entered also performed extremely well, but when it came to choosing our first Tow Car of the Decade, we unanimously chose the Land Rover Discovery 4 as it had won more times than any other.”
TV presenter and President of The Camping and Caravanning Club, Julia Bradbury said: “The Camping and Caravanning Club is delighted to have been an integral part of the Tow Car Awards since it began and would like to thank all the judges and our members who have volunteered to help make the event such a success every year.”
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