A ROUND TRIP of 1000 miles is a stern enough test of a towcar’s capability and comforts, but throw in some snow and mountain roads and you’ve got yourself quite a challenge, writes Dan Wright.
Back in January, I towed from Practical Caravan HQ in Teddington to Portsmouth, hopped on an overnight ferry to Caen, then drove another 400-odd miles to the ski resort village of Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise, in the central Auvergne region of France.
We had taken care to load heavy items over the axle but still found the long (7.18m), single-axle Bailey Pegasus 554 a bit on the twitchy side, despite a hefty Al-Ko 3004 stabiliser.
At our first fuel stop, we moved a couple of suitcases (10-15kg) from the back of the van and this made a noticeable difference. On the return trip, ridding the van of snow and ice that had built up during a snow shower seemed to improve stability still further.
The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel never felt like it was trying that hard to pull the Bailey and we were rarely out of top gear on the motorway. We struggled to get much better than 20mpg. But we were either on or just under the 110km/h (68mph) speed limit for outfits with a gross weight of over 3.5 tonnes.
For comfort and handling, the Outlander was without fault for a vehicle of its class – the lack of wallow around the corners made driving the mountainous roads a pleasure. The automatic four-wheel drive inspired confidence, though we switched to permanent four-wheel drive at the first sign of snow.
Our only hiccup was on leaving our site after a good dump of snow (up to eight inches). The Mitsubishi towed easily through the fresh powder until we reached the steep site exit road, which had been polished like an ice rink by all the skiers driving up it an hour earlier.
The man from the Mairie would normally have gritted it by this time, but was running late. We drove up too timidly, lost traction and despite engaging the handbrake, slid slowly backwards for a few yards before the van wheels came to rest gently against a ridge of ploughed snow.[tl:gallery size=180×180]
We were towed off by the village snowplough and, of course, put on our snow chains. The moral of the story? If in doubt, fit your chains: you can always take them off!
Power 154bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 280lb.ft @ 2000rpm
Towing limit 2000kg
Towball limit 100kg