|The Towcar of the Year awards is a major highlight of The
Club's calendar. The awards were created to enable member's of The Club to
make informed decisions when choosing a towcar and to keep them up to date
with the latest innovations and trends in car design.
The 2008 Towcar of the Year awards attracted 36 vehicles from 20 different
manufacturers with testing held, as usual, at the Millbrook Proving Ground
Testing took place over three days in late August and the awards themselves
were presented at the RAC Club in London on the 26th September by Perry
McCarthy - Top Gear's original 'Stig' and former 24hrs Le Mans and Formula 1
Ford can be especially proud with the 2008 awards - they scooped Towcar Of
the Year with the Mondeo Titanium X Estate as well as a class win with the
Mondeo Zetec and a very close second in class with the S-Max.
Škoda also had a good year even though they didn't scoop the overall win.
They took three awards with the Roomster Scout and Octavia Scout topping
their class and the Octavia going on to win the 'All wheel drive under
The final two prizes were scooped by the much improved
Freelander (highest priced class) and the Kia Sorento (AWD over 1800kg).
More about the winning vehicles…
Under £16,000 Class
Winner: Skoda Roomster Scout 1.9 TDI – Skoda’s Roomster mini-MPV did
really well for a little ‘un! The 1.9-litre diesel engine isn’t especially
powerful but the output is well matched to its well-sorted gearbox. Ratios
are just right for towing and the Skoda pulls well even in top (5th) gear.
|£16,000 to £20,000 Class
Winner: Ford Mondeo Zetec – The latest
incarnation of Ford’s best seller is a giant leap forward in both quality
and style. Fitted with the company’s free-revving 2.0-litre diesel engine
and six-speed manual gearbox, the Zetec was quick off the line and remained
stable even at 80mph on the test track. The engine and gearbox make for
|£20,000 to £25,000 Class and Under 1800kg AWD Category
Skoda Octavia Scout TDI – An absolute delight to drive with a willing
engine, sweet gearbox with well-chosen ratios and full-time four-wheel
drive. Pulling away on a very severe hill start was easy and on the twisty
alpine section it handled confidently with predictable turn-in. A
comfortable ride and nicely-built interior just add to the pleasure.
|£25,000 to £32,000 Class and overall Caravan Club Towcar of the Year
Winner: Ford Mondeo Titanium X – Ford’s new
Mondeo is a leap forward in many respects, and although the outgoing model
was a good towcar, this Estate version with a 2.5-litre petrol engine is
excellent. Handling is so good that you know exactly what the outfit is
doing. Well-weighted steering helps you position the outfit precisely, the
brakes are excellent and the six-speed gearbox, as usual in a Ford, is a
delight. Add to that a well-appointed interior, comfort and an ability to
swallow a huge amount of luggage and you have a winning towcar.
|Over £32,000 Class
Winner: Land Rover Freelander 2 – Land
Rover’s Freelander has grown into a better-looking, better-equipped 4x4 with
a style that is bound to appeal to caravanners. The six-speed gearbox
changes seamlessly when left to its own devices, it copes easily with hill
starts and descents and on the flat you won’t find the Freelander put off
its stroke by gusty crosswinds. A worthy winner of the top price Class.
|Over 1800kg AWD Category
Winner: Kia Sorento 2.5 CRDi XS – A
Caravan Club Towcar of the Year favourite and past winner, the Sorento
reappeared in its latest 2.5-litre diesel, manual transmission guise and
showed exactly why it has done so well in this Competition before. The
four-cylinder engine churns out torque aplenty and full-time four-wheel
drive ensures the car is always well planted on the ground. Gear ratios are
just right for towing
Where, when and how…
Testing takes place in August at the Millbrook Proving Ground in
Bedfordshire, probably the best car testing facility in the country. This
year the cars were divided into five price categories, the theory being that
anyone thinking about buying a new car will first consider how much they can
afford to pay.
Manufacturers were invited to submit for testing any cars that were new
launches in the period 1 August 2006 to 30 September 2007, or existing
models that had been substantially modified (eg new engine, different
transmission etc). The Caravan Club also invites the previous year’s overall
winner to submit its car for re-testing – in this year’s case, the Volvo V50
The cars delivered are carefully scrutineered to make sure they conform to
the exact specification declared on the entry documentation. Track tests,
using six expert drivers, assess each car’s towing ability, the car’s
attitude when hitched as well as acceleration, braking and the ability to
cope with demanding hill starts. Another team of four ‘caravanability’
judges makes a careful assessment of each entrant’s usability in terms of
everyday caravanning. Will it carry a set of awning poles, for instance, and
do you have to get on your hands and knees to plug in the caravan electrics?
All caravans used during testing were supplied by Bailey of Bristol and
loaded to 85% of the relevant car’s kerbweight. Noseweights are set at the
car manufacturer’s recommended limit, 7% of the caravan’s running weight or
the maxium stipulated weight for the coupling head, whichever is lowest.