David Motton

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Confused by all this talk of scrappage schemes? We've scoured the small print to see which manufacturers are offering the best deals on top-rate tow cars

Scrappage schemes are back, and in a big way.

In the wake of so many headlines about vehicle emissions, manufacturers are queuing up to offer incentives to trade in older, dirtier cars and buy new ones which meet the current Euro 6 emissions standard.

You could save as much as £8000 off the price of a new car.

And there's stacks of tow car talent on offer!

There's no shortage of capable tow cars among the cars eligible through car makers' offers.

So, should caravanners take advantage and trade up to a shiny new tow car?

It's not a straightforward question to answer, as the terms and conditions and the size of the trade-in offer varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and model to model.

However, in most cases you'll have to own a car registered no later than 31 December 2009.

After that date all cars had to meet the Euro 5 emissions standard, which isn't as stringent as today's Euro 6, but which set tighter limits on pollutants than the earlier Euro 1 to 4 standards.

If you have a newer car you'll need to have your trade-in valued in the normal way.

Some manufacturers stipulate that the the car has to be a diesel, others are happy to take a petrol or a diesel.

A few words of warning

Even if your car is old enough to qualify, you need to check its market value before concluding that a scrappage deal – with a guaranteed set value for your trade-in – is really the way to go.

Say you are being offered £2000 for your old car. If its true value is higher, you'll lose out if you chose to trade it in under a scrappage scheme.

Another note of caution – some scrappage incentives are in place of normal dealer discounts and other offers such as low-rate finance may no longer apply.

So, if you are presented with a choice of accepting a scrappage deal or another special offer such as interest-free credit, do the maths to see which will work out cheapest in the long-run.

You might think you could benefit by picking up an old banger for peanuts from the classifieds and taking it to the dealer to part-exchange it for a lot more than it is worth.

However, the manufacturers are wise to this and you can expect a term in the small print insisting that the trade-in has been registered to you for a minimum period of, say, 90 days.

At the time of writing, Audi, BMW, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Renault, Seat, Škoda, Vauxhall and Volkswagen have scrappage schemes (or are offering incentives to trade in older cars but not necessarily scrapping them). Here are some potential highlights for caravanners.

Audi A6 Allroad

Audi is offering a huge £7000 off the A6 Alllroad.

This four-wheel-drive estate is one of my favourite tow cars, especially the powerful and refined BiTDI model.

To qualify for the saving, you'll need to trade in a diesel, registered before 2010. The new car must be ordered before the end of the year and registered before 31 March 2018.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Scrappage deals are available across the entire Hyundai range, but the largest discount has been reserved for Hyundai's biggest and heaviest car: the Santa Fe SUV.

If you have a petrol or diesel car registered before 2010, it can be traded in for £5000 off the price of the Santa Fe. This deal is in place of any other special offer.

It's worth noting, too, that £3500 is being offered off the price of the smaller Tucson.

Nissan X-Trail

Nissan has just updated the X-Trail. In fact, we have one booked in for a tow test in a few weeks.

You can save £4000 off the list price of the new X-Trail under Nissan's 'Switch Scheme'.

You'll need to trade in a pre-Euro 5 car, and you'll have to get a move on as the offer ends on 30 September.

Škoda Superb

Škodas usually perform well in our tow tests, and the Superb was our Tow Car Awards overall winner in 2016.

If you can trade in a pre-2010 diesel (Euro 1 to 4), then Škoda will knock £4000 from the price of any Superb.

You must order before the end of the year and you'll have to have owned the trade-in for at least six months. The scrappage incentive can't be used in conjunction with any existing offer.

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