The new Skoda Octavia was the overall winner in the 2013 Tow Car Awards, proving that you don’t need a huge 4×4 to enjoy caravanning.

The compact hatchback saw off a raft of pedigree tow cars – including the category winning Land Rover Discovery, Jaguar XF Sportbrake and Volkswagen Passat Estate – to prove that smaller, lighter and more economical vehicles can also make great tow cars. 

The annual event, run by Practical Caravan, in association with The Camping and Caravanning Club and What Car? is widely regarded as Britain’s toughest test of tow car ability.

Now in its seventh year, 46 cars entered the testing for 2013. You can see the full results with detailed reviews of every tow car here at our new dedicated Tow Car Awards site, along with previous winners and advice on how to buy the right tow car for you.

In response to the current trend of downsizing to smaller, greener and more economical cars, a new ‘Best Ultra-light Tow Car’ category was introduced this year, won by the Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi.

Two more compact, affordable cars also won awards: The Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC ES took the Green Award, while the Dacia Duster dCi 110 Ambiance was chosen as the Best Budget 4×4 – a snip at just £13,495.

Testing includes a thorough examination of each car’s practicality and dynamic stability. This, combined with the real-life buying and owning information from What Car?, ensures the Tow Car Awards delivers definitive verdicts that buyers can trust. Watch our video below to see how we do the testing.

Also, for the first time this year, we set out to find how much towing hurts fuel economy. What Car?‘s True MPG team – the real-world fuel economy test, which uses sensors attached to the car’s electronic brain to get an accurate figure – tested a cross section of cars, including the VW Golf, a petrol Mazda 6, the Dacia Duster and the Land Rover Discovery. The results make for fascinating reading.

Read all about it, and get the full results, in the August 2013 issue of Practical Caravan, on sale from 20 June. And watch our Tow Car Awards video!