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Caravan Club Towcar of the Year 2012

The 2012 awards saw 16 manufacturers enter 30 vehicles into the awards - all of which were tested rigorously by the Caravan Club. The results of the 2012 Competition were announced at The Caravan Club Towcar of the Year Awards ceremony at the Royal Automobile Club in London on 21st September.

The Volkswagen Jetta Sport 2.0TDI DSG took the top honour in its price Class and went on to be voted overall winner of the twenty-ninth Caravan Club Towcar of the Year Competition. It was judged the winner by a panel of 11 judges who applauded its suave design, its practicality as a caravanning family car and its great performance when towing in a variety of situations.

Where, When and How…

Testing took place in August at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, arguably the best car testing facility in the country. This year 30 cars were divided into three price Classes and two All-Wheel Drive categories (under 1800kg and over 1800kg); on the basis that anyone thinking about buying a new car will first consider their budget.

Manufacturers were invited to submit for testing any cars that were new launches in the period 1 August 2010 to 30 September 2011, 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 instance, the Škoda Superb Estate Elegance.

The cars entered 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 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 connect 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, 5-7% of the caravan's running weight or the maximum stipulated weight for the caravan coupling head, whichever is lowest.

More about the winning vehicles…

Under £25,000 Class and Overall Winner Caravan Club Towcar of the Year 2012

Winner: Volkswagen Jetta Sport 2.0TDI DSG

This car is as controlled as it is quick, offering stable towing both at speed and while driving around hills and bends. It steers smartly and accurately with little body roll, yet offers a well-damped ride even with a lively caravan on the back. It zooms up hills, stops on them securely and pulls away cleanly. And when you're not driving it, it's great to look at.

£25,000 to £32,000 Class

Winner: Skoda Superb Estate Elegance 2.0 DSG

The Caravan Club Towcar of the Year history book will record the Superb as legendary. As overall winner last year, it could do little more to prove the point than come back fighting its corner and winning its Class yet again. This vehicle goes, stops, corners and cossets like it's always done, almost as if there's no caravan attached.

Over £32,000 Class & Over 1800kg All-Wheel Drive Category

Winner:  Volkswagen Touareg Escape 3.0 V6 TDI

The Touareg flew round the bowl at Millbrook with never a twitch, even on the hill circuit. On-rails cornering was interspersed with an apparently insignificant collection of steep gradients, including hill-stops and starts.  A near-ultimate towcar, winning two classew.

Over 1800kgs All-Wheel Drive Category

Winner: Volvo V60 D5 AWD Volvo Ocean Race

You would have to get ultra critical to find fault with this V60. The V60 is endowed with good control, accurate direction changing and great handling. Strong, linear power delivery took the outfit briskly to speed and it remained stoically stable; hill stops and starts were also commended. All this in a beautifully-restrained cabin wrapped in a slinky body.

Final Thoughts

Special guest, former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert, attended the testing regime at Millbrook and then presented the prized Class awards to representatives from the winning manufacturers at the Awards ceremony.

Johnny Herbert says, "It was a real eye-opener being at Millbrook seeing all the cars being put through their paces, they really are put to the towing test."

Grenville Chamberlain, Caravan Club Chairman, commented, "The Club extends its congratulations to all the winners in this Competition. Special plaudits go to the terrific Volkswagen Jetta, it really is a great vehicle and it proved itself time and time again with the judges during testing."

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Index : Towing and Towcars and Towball Carriers : Caravan Club Towcar of the Year 2012 - by UKCampsite.co.uk

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