David Motton

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The countdown is on to one of our most exciting Tow Car Awards yet! With so many new contenders, it's going to be a tough year –
here's a sneak preview

It's hard to believe it, but this year's Tow Car Awards is just around the corner – and it looks set to be one to remember!

We've got some fascinating cars booked in to be tested at the start of April, when we'll be teaming up with What Car? and The Camping and Caravanning Club for the 11th time in our annual search for Britain's best tow cars.

As you may know, we test cars in five classes based on their kerbweight. Every year we invite the previous year's main class winners back to act as benchmarks for the new cars to be measured against.

So, which models are in contention as we ask what tow car is the best?

Petrol or diesel?

In the lightest of the five main weight classes (up to 1400kg) the Honda HR-V will be back to defend its title. Last year, we praised the Honda for its exceptional stability, even at speeds beyond what would be legal on the public road.

There's quite a queue forming to take a crack at the Honda's title. Right at the front is the car the Honda took the class win from, the Škoda Octavia. It's been updated for 2017, and the new-look model should be there or thereabouts in the final reckoning.

Both cars will face up to the revised Volkswagen Golf, a car so new it's coming to our tests straight from the UK press launch. Then there's the new Hyundai i30. The car we're testing is petrol-powered, so will be in contention for the 'Best Petrol Tow Car' Award as well as going for the win in the 'Up to 1400kg' class.

Can the Superb hold on?

In 2016, the overall winner came from the 1400-1549kg weight division in the form of the Škoda Superb. It really did live up to its name, with an unbeatable combination of stability, space, performance and value.

Will it still be unbeatable one year on? We'll see.

The SsangYong Tivoli XLV is among the cars the Superb will need to rise above. The XLV promises more room than the regular Tivoli on which it's based along with an exceptionally keen price tag – we look forward to discovering what tow car ability it has.

The next class up is for cars weighing 1550-1699kg. Last year the prize went to the Jaguar XF. If the man from Jaguar hadn't come to take the car away I'd probably still be towing with it now.

The new Seat Ateca is a similar weight to the Jag, but otherwise a very different car. With four-wheel drive, a powerful diesel engine, plenty of equipment and a sharp drive, it has got to be a contender.

Both will have to do battle with the facelifted Mazda 6 Tourer, the new Renault Grand Scénic and the Audi A4 Allroad, among others.

There are also a couple of very promising new models which – fingers crossed – could arrive in time for the tests. I don't want to tell you what they are until I know for sure that they are coming, but even without them, the 1550-1699kg category is going to be hotly contested.

Heavyweight contenders

There's no shortage of talent in the 1700-1899kg class, either. Last year, the Land Rover Discovery Sport won this category, thanks to its exceptional stability, the all-weather advantage of four-wheel drive, and its practical cabin.

It's certainly not going to have things all its own way in 2017. The Škoda Kodiaq ticks many of the same boxes as the Discovery Sport but at a lower price point, while the Ford Kuga Vignale, Volvo S90 and VW Tiguan will also be in the running.

That brings us to the heavyweight class for cars weighing 1900kg or more. It's the only category without a returning class winner, because the old Land Rover Discovery has been replaced with the new model.

The Land Rover Discovery 5's looks are divisive, and I know a couple of Discovery owners who much prefer the more upright style of older models. But whatever you think of the design, and the significant weight loss compared with the previous generation, the new Discovery has to be in the hunt again this year.

This will be no coronation, though. The Volvo XC90 Twin Engine has the brawn and green credentials to give the new Discovery a hard time. There's also the Mercedes-Benz GLE. Its predecessor, the M-Class, came close to beating the Land Rover in 2013, so today's car can't be discounted.

Those are just a handful of the cars which have been confirmed for 2017. The week-long test programme is one of the busiest – and best – weeks of my year. I can't wait to get started!

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