We know that choosing what tow car to buy next is a big decision for any caravanner. Not only do you have to ensure it’s heavy and powerful enough to be a safe and suitable match for your tourer, but you want to know it will be a secure, stable tug, too, with sufficient space for you, your family and your touring kit.
Not only that, but if your tow car is also your daily driver, you’ll want it to slip seamlessly into everyday life, performing on the school and supermarket runs, in town and in country, and on long runs and short blasts. And you’ll want it to represent good value for money, to be fuel efficient and to have all the kit you want. Quite a lot to ask, isn’t it?
Which is why we invest a lot of time and effort to make our tow car tests as comprehensive and rigorous as possible, so you know you can trust our results and buy with confidence. It is, therefore, heartening to see cars we’ve rated highly achieve success elsewhere, corroborating our findings.
And this week that has happened – twice. First, the Vauxhall Astra was crowned the European Car of the Year for 2016, on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show. Sharp looking, well-specced and good to drive, it’s a car I and our Tow Car Editor David Motton have enjoyed time in and we’re very much looking forward to hitching one to a caravan to see what tow car ability it has. Indeed, this latest accolade only makes us more excited about this prospect.
Especially as it beat a car we think is an excellent tow car, the Volvo XC90, into second place. Not only does this underline our assertion that there’s a lot to love about the latest XC90, indeed we think it will be one to watch when testing for our annual Tow Car Awards kicks off next month, it puts into even sharper focus the fact that the newest Vauxhall Astra is a very well-rounded proposition.
The Astra scored 309 points, to the XC90’s 294. Other European Car of the Year finalists of note to caravanners included the Jaguar XE (with 163 points) which our Motty thinks is a super tow car, although it loses out when it comes to practicality, and the latest Škoda Superb (with 147 points).
Even towards the end of its production life, we awarded the previous-generation Škoda Superb Estate four-and-a-half out of five, plus it’s a model that has historically done well in our Tow Car Awards. And we know Škoda understands how to make a great tow car, its Octavia being a class winner at our 2015, 2014 and 2013 Tow Car Awards, going on to scoop the overall award in 2013.
Our Group Editor Alastair Clements has tested the new Superb solo and came away very impressed. You’ll have to wait until the May 2016 edition of Practical Caravan goes on sale on 24 March to read the verdict of our full tow test, but let’s just say it didn’t disappoint.
Then, a day later, the UK Car of the Year Awards 2016 were announced, for which our very own Motty is on the judging panel. The Volvo XC90 was ranked Best SUV, the Vauxhall Astra took the Best Small Hatch prize, Jaguar’s XE was named the Best Executive Car and Škoda took two gongs, the Superb rated the Best Family Car and its estate sibling the Best Estate Car.
With so many top tugs on a high, we have a feeling that when testing gets under way for our Tow Car Awards, 2016’s results will be among the closest yet.