By William Coleman
This year the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s tow car testing was a little different from what we were used to. We took part in the virtual judging to bring you the best tow vehicles on the market.
Each year the Club goes to extreme lengths to assemble a crack team of tow car judges to spend a week at the Millbrook test course, where they drive dozens of top-class vehicles and decide which one is the king of towing. 2020 marks the 38th edition of the annual testing and the first-ever virtual version.
We were unable to test at the Millbrook site as the Club felt it was a better option to host virtual judging. Our very own Dan Cartwright was a judge once again this year and found that virtual judging was surprisingly insightful and enabled him to look at each vehicle from a different point of view.
Taking this year’s top spot, in spectacular towing fashion, is the Skoda Superb Estate SE L Executive 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG. This is the second win for Skoda in the past three years, with the world-class Skoda Kodiaq taking the 2018 award. We tested the Kodiaq around Europe for three weeks and it is easy to see why Skoda keeps taking home the gold.
We know just how valuable these awards are and the information passed on by judges gives buyers the details they need to be confident when purchasing their next, or even first, tow car.
On top of that, the feedback is also given to manufacturers who take it away and see how the info can help them cater better to the touring world. Over the past four decades, the feedback from this testing has been taken on board by a lot of manufacturers, and we’ve seen these changes implemented in the following years to the cars submitted.
The 40 entrants were put into caravan weight categories – they are usually 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 per cent kerbweight figure or by their towing limit, whichever was the lower. The competition had seven weight classes, as well as Pick-up, Alternatively Fuelled, and two Family Tow car categories.
The entrants were then matched with caravans from Bailey of Bristol’s 2021 range with virtual loads, both in the car and the caravan, ensuring the vehicle’s other weight limits were not exceeded.
Nick Lomas, director general of the Caravan and Motorhome Club said, “Caravan holidays have never been more popular and it’s important to the Club to make sure we provide relevant information to our members – and all those interested in touring and towing. The Club, with its 110-plus years of experience, has worked with respected industry colleagues and journalists, all of whom are themselves caravanners, to bring together this invaluable set of data and information.”
Overall Caravan and Motorhome Club Tow car of the Year 2021: SkodaSuperb Estate SE L Executive 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG
Skoda is a regular in the ‘Tow car Top 3’ and this year’s Superb appears to be no exception. You can’t go wrong with one of these. If you want a large estate, the Superb has to be on your shortlist.
Caravan Weight Under 1100kg: Renault All-New Captur
Caravan Weight 1100-1200kg: SEAT Leon Estate FR 1.5 TSI manual 150
Caravan Weight 1200-1300kg: SkodaOctavia Estate SE L First Edition 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG
Caravan Weight 1300-1400kg: Skoda Superb Estate SE L Executive 2.0 TDI 150PS DSG
Caravan Weight 1400-1500kg: Vauxhall Insignia SRi VX-Line Nav
Large Family Tow car: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Caravelle 6.1 SE Long Wheelbase 2.0 TDI 199PS 7spd DSG
And here are the new category winners
Caravan Weight 1500-1700kg & Alternatively Fuelled: Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T5 FWD R-Design
Caravan Weight Over 1700kg & Family Towcar: Volvo V60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T6 AWD R-Design
Pick-Up: Nissan Navara dCi190 Double Cab N-Guard Automatic