Nick News, Spotlight

Nick’s News – Volkswagen Caddy California and the UK’s top towcars

Nick HardingNick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.

My week

Crises? What crises? Sometimes it seems the whole country is in denial as we struggle to get to grips with miscellaneous shortages – that’s everything from what’s not in our supermarkets to motorhomes and caravans, through to the fuel, er, challenge. 

Whilst general advice as far as the latter is concerned is try and keep your automotive travel to a minimum, I just think we have to manage our own expectations. Plenty of folk are still looking to get their first foot onto the ladder of leisure vehicle ownership, but I’d advise not to rush in to anything right now. Your patience will be rewarded. 

In the news

Tale of two top towcars

Congratulations to Seat’s Leon Estate FR 1.5TSI 150PS and Kia’s Sorento 2.2 CRDi 3 DCT. They’re the number one tow car in the UK at the moment – both of them! 

The Seat is the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Towcar of the Year 2022 winner. It also topped the Caravan weight 1,100kg-1,200kg class (the car’s kerbweight is 1,410kg). 

Meanwhile, the Kia was overall winner in the latest Tow Car Awards (a joint venture between What Car?, Practical Caravan magazines and the Camping and Caravanning Club). It was also top of the class for towcars weighing over 1,900kg and costing less than £50,000. Kia’s 1,954kg kerbweight means it can tow caravans up to 1,661kg if you want to abide by the 85% guideline. 

Between the two awards (the judging criteria is different for both, by the way), there were some 20 class winners. If you’re in the market for a new towcar, you’ll want to pick through the grittier detail of both sets of awards. 

Truth is, there are lots of great towcars to choose from. Getting hold of one is going to be the trickiest part. 

Secondhand stock – still a struggle

The disappointing news continues for those looking to buy a pre-owned caravan or motorhome. Dealers stocks are as low as can be right now, amid seemingly ever-growing demand. That also means, inevitably, rising prices. 

New stock just isn’t getting through, it seems. As one major motorhome dealer put it to me at the start of the week: “We currently have two 2022 model Rapidos in stock… and no Swifts yet. Used stock is harder to comment on as it’s selling almost as fast as it’s arriving, with some selling before they arrive.”

Or, as another put it, more succinctly: “2022 models aren’t coming through yet, we are still getting 2021 products!!”

… and accessories prices are set to rise, too

Limited stock and rising prices will also be the theme for accessories. Rising costs for raw materials is the initial blame point, but again it’s demand completely outstripping the ability to supply. 

It’s no great secret that the majority of accessories come from China, so it’s interesting to hear from my friends at accessories supplier OlPro that the cost of a shipping container has leapt from $2,000 to $11,000. 

I can only feel sorry for any of you who ordered special products only to be frustrated by long delays before receiving them. It’s something we’re going to have to live with for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid. 

Motorhome for me

Volkswagen Caddy California – the clever Cali

Volkswagen UK is taking orders for the latest addition to its California family – the Caddy. Based on… yep, you’ve guessed, the Volkswagen’s smallest van, the Caddy. 

You’ll probably want the larger, Maxi version but after that there’s a choice of petrol or diesel engines, manual or automatic transmission. 

Yes, it really does stretch your camping expertise. Open the tailgate to access and use the slide-out “kitchen”. It’s the clever, comfy double bed (1.98m x 1.07m) that is the star performer here – a proper fold-out mechanism that doesn’t rely on using any of the travel seats. 

Plus, you get two outdoor chairs and a free-standing table, plus zipped holdall-type bags that attach to the rear side windows.

Definitely consider an awning. Or use it to tow, although Volkswagen keeps the towing limit to 1,500kg. 

Three good: Lovely to drive, clever bed arrangement, proper five-seater

One bad: Very limited storage

Perfect for… Camping-plus

Also consider: Wheelhome Vikenze