It looks as if 2016 could be a vintage year for new tow cars. There are so many potential towing stars on the way that it’s hard to know where to start. Here are just a few of the exciting new tow cars of 2016.
I never thought I’d write about a Bentley as a potential tug, but believe it or not Bentley actually contacted Practical Caravan during the car’s development to ask what we looked for in a great tow car. No, really.
Powered by a 6.0-litre W12 engine with an enormous 663lb ft of torque, the Bentley is powerful enough to pull two twin-axle tourers at once if you could find a way to hitch them up.
The first customers will take delivery of the Bentayga early next year. The £160,200 price tag means only the most affluent caravanners will be able to consider the Bentayga, but if money really is no object, it should give top-end Range Rovers some serious competition.
Ford already has the Ecosport and Kuga to offer buyers looking for a crossover or SUV. The Edge will sit above both when it goes on sale in the spring. It certainly looks good, to my eyes at least. And under the skin it’s a close relative of the Ford Mondeo, which bodes well for its ability to tow a caravan.
The Edge is a five-seater, similar in size to the Audi Q5 or BMW X3. But while it should rival these cars for space and practicality, expect a considerably lower price, starting from around £30,000. There will be a choice of two 2.0-litre diesel engines. Even the least powerful will have 177bhp, which should be plenty for towing. The more powerful of the two will have 207bhp.
Jaguar is muscling in on Land Rover territory with the F-Pace. Jaguar Land Rover argues the sporty and road-biased F-Pace has a different appeal to the Evoque or Discovery Sport, but I could see some buyers with both a Jag and a Land Rover on the same shortlist.
The first cars should arrive in showrooms in April or thereabouts, which is also when the Tow Car Awards testing takes place each year. Asking Jag for a car to review is high on my to-do list for January.
Buyers will have a choice of 3.0-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel power, as well as a fuel-sipping 2.0-litre diesel. There will be rear-wheel drive versions as well as 4x4s.
For regular towing, the 3.0-litre diesel 4×4 looks the most appealing model in the range. If it tows as well as it looks, it should be very good indeed. Prices start from £34,170.
I’m looking forward to driving the new Kia Sportage in February. If it improves on the old car as much as the third-generation Sorento improved upon its predecessor, it should be some car.
Kia is promising better refinement and a step-up in interior quality. I’m not sold on the looks, but perhaps it’s one of those cars which looks better in the metal than in photographs.
Land Rover Discovery
If you read Practical Caravan regularly, you’ll know we’re big fans of the current Discovery. But it’s starting to show its age, not so much in the way it drives or tows but in its thirst for fuel and its high emissions. Newer rivals like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 also have the Discovery well beaten for interior quality.
Late in 2016 (or perhaps early in 2017), the new Discovery should put right those deficiencies. Expect a huge improvement in fuel economy and a big reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Will it tow as well as today’s car, though? Much of the new Discovery’s improved efficiency will come about through its reduced kerbweight. There are no official figures yet, but don’t be surprised if the big Land Rover slims down by some 400-500kg. Then again, as today’s car is the lardy side of 2.5 tonnes, the Disco can afford to go on a diet and still make a sensible match for a big twin-axle caravan.
Compared with the slick and capable Outlander, the current Mitsubishi Shogun feels like a car from another era. Which is exactly what it is, given that it has been around for nearly a decade. In fact, since today’s car was more of a thorough update rather than an all-new model when it was launched in 2007, you could argue the Shogun dates back to 2000. Today’s car is heavy, torquey, tough and practical, but it feels clumsy to drive.
The new Shogun, which may arrive by the end of the year or more likely early 2017, should greatly improve the Shogun’s interior quality, refinement and driver appeal. Hopefully Mitsubishi can pull that off without losing the ruggedness and off-road ability of today’s car.
The current Volkswagen Tiguan is a very strong tow car. The new car will be more than 50kg lighter than its predecessor, which won’t help matching ratios, but in other respects it looks like a very promising tug. And VW promises improved interior space and greater fuel efficiency.
As well as the turbocharged petrol and diesel models you’d expect, we understand there are also plans for a plug-in hybrid model. Just like the current car, the new Tiguan will be offered with a choice of two- and four-wheel-drive models. Expect prices to start from around £23,000.
Bentley contacted Practical Caravan during the car's development to ask what we looked for in a great tow car!