David MottonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by David Motton
Finally it feels as if summer has arrived! With blue skies overhead and the sun beating down as I write, I think it is time to make the most of it. After all, this is Great Britain and we've no idea how long it will last.
And when the sun is shining, there's no better way to enjoy it than from behind the wheel of a convertible!
But how about being behind the wheel of a convertible towing a caravan? It's not quite as daft as it sounds. While not all convertibles are homologated for towing, some are. And although there are compromises to live with in terms of body stiffness and boot space with the roof down, convertibles usually weigh more than the cars on which they're based, which improves matching ratios compared to their hard-top counterparts.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible TD4
- Price: from £47,500
- Kerbweight: 1967kg
- Legal towing limit: 1500kg
We know the regular Range Rover Evoque tows well. The convertible version has the same 180PS (178bhp) engine, but a huge 300kg increase in kerbweight.
That makes for an 85% match figure as high as the sun at midday, but unfortunately the legal towing limit, which drops from 2000kg to 1500kg, puts pay to any thoughts of towing a big-twin axle tourer. However, a 1.5-tonne maximum still leaves a wide choice of caravans to tow behind the Evoque on the way to your favourite beachside campsite.
There are other downsides beside the reduced towing limit. The drop-top Evoque is only available in high-end specifications, turning an upmarket car into a very expensive one. There are just four seats and the boot is small – there's room for your suncream and a week's worth of Hawaiian shirts, but otherwise you'll have to travel light.
Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI Quattro
- Price: from £45,225
- Kerbweight: 1975kg
- Legal towing limit: 1900kg
I've just spent a few days towing with a 3.0-litre Audi A4 Avant, and it's a very fast tow car. The A5 Cabriolet uses a slightly less powerful version of the same engine, but according to Audi's figures it still accelerates from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds.
Like the Evoque, the body reinforcements necessary to convert the A5 hard-top into a cabrio have added some serious heft. Including 75kg for the driver (which isn't included in Audi's published unladen weight), the car weighs just under two tonnes. However, unlike the Evoque, the legal towing limit hasn't been compromised, and remains 1900kg.
Boot space reduces somewhat, but is reasonable for a convertible. Keep the hood up and there are 360 litres. Even with it folded there are 320 litres, so there'll be room for the Bermuda shorts to go with your Hawaiian shirts.
Used Volvo C70 T5 SE
- Price: £3995 (approx price for a 56-plate car with 90,000 miles)
- Kerbweight: 1711kg
- Legal towing limit: 1500kg
The Evoque and A5 are expensive cars. A used Volvo C70 is an absolute bargain. We've seen an example of the very quick and capable C70 T5 on sale for less than £4000, complete with a towball. That's not a lot for a car that will have set the original owner back over £30,000 10 years ago.
Age has been kind to the C70. The understated styling still looks smart now, the folding metal hard-top makes it a sound choice all year, not just in the summer, and the T5 engine is powerful enough to cope with a sensibly matched caravan.
Although cheap to buy, it will hit you in the wallet when you stop for fuel. You'll be very lucky to get close to 30mpg in solo driving, let alone when towing. Make sure the roof mechanism is still working smoothly before you part with any cash.
Used Saab 9-3 Convertible 1.9 TTiD Vector Sport
- Price: £4,250 (approx price for 58-plate car with 130,000 miles)
- Kerbweight: 1750kg
- Legal towing limit: 1600kg
The old-shape Saab 9-3 wasn't perfect, but it was certainly stylish. The demise of Saab hasn't done resale values any favours, so used 9-3 Convertibles are surprisingly affordable.
That's still the case even if you go for a diesel. The 1.9-litre engine has 178bhp so it should comfortably handle towing duties, and you'll enjoy far better economy and lower Vehicle Excise Duty bills than if you choose a petrol C70: the official combined figure is 54.3mpg.
You'll need to be careful when applying the power while towing to avoid spinning the front wheels, and handling isn't as sharp as a 3 Series Convertible of the same period. But then again you'd pay a lot more for the equivalent BMW.
You can imagine the looks you'll get when you arrive at the campsite, roof down and shades on...