Finding The Perfect Car For Caravanning
Love them or hate them, there is no doubt that caravans are a familiar sight on our roads and look like continuing to be so for the foreseeable future. Britain has long had a love affair with the caravan and as the country emerges from recession, it is one of the industries that has actually fared reasonably well.
Love them or hate them, there is no doubt that caravans are a familiar sight on our roads and look like continuing to be so for the foreseeable future. Britain has long had a love affair with the caravan and as the country emerges from recession, it is one of the industries that has actually fared reasonably well. The caravan industry also contributes a lot to the UK economy. According to the National Caravan Council (NCC), caravanning contributes around £6 billion a year to the British economy. More than half a million Britons own a touring caravan and an additional 164,000 have motor homes. Some 260,000 have static caravans.
Caravans and motor homes add disproportionately to the economy because most are built in the UK. Around 96% of caravans sold in the country are British made, while the figure for motor homes is 70%. Caravan holidays have survived the recession well because they are seen as being low cost. They are also surprisingly green because most holidays are taken in the UK, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.
Every touring caravan needs a car, however, and the need to tow a caravan substantially affects the caravan owner’s choice of car. As summer approaches, many owners will be getting ready to take their annual caravanning holiday, so it is a good time to consider which cars are best for towing caravans.
The caravan club has released its results for Towcar of the year 2014. Awards were given to cars in seven price brackets and four wheel drive vehicles greater or less than 1800kg. Nine judges looked at a variety of criteria, including traction, visibility, gear box, acceleration, braking, hill start, driver comfort, visibility and reversing.
Judges also looked at boot capacity and usability, taking into consideration the typical equipment needed by a caravan tourer and the access when hitched to the caravan. Acceleration was looked at in two key bands; 30-60mph and 40-60mph, to reflect a caravan’s typical overtaking speed. The caravans were loaded until they weighed 85% of the towing car’s kerb weight, the maximum weight ratio that is usually considered to be safe.
The overall winner of the Towcar of the year 2014 award was the Skoda Superb Elegance Estate in 2.0 litre TDI CR 170PS 4x4 DSG guise. The judges commented on the Skoda’s perfect hill start and ability to swallow huge caravan loads. In short, it was regarded as truly ‘Superb’.
The budget price bracket is always important and the sub £16,000 class is keenly contested. This was won by the SsangYong Korando SE. The judges felt that the SsangYong pulled well across all gear ranges and provided a comfortably smooth ride. It was also found to be stable and provided an excellent driving position and good visibility from the towing mirrors.
Skoda won the £16,000 - £20,000 bracket with the 1.2 TSI SE Octavia, which was found to have a good gearbox and excellent luggage space. The Volkswagen Jetta Sport took the gong for the £20,000 - £25,000 segment, with the judges praising the car’s handling, manoeuvrability and stability. The £25,000 to £31,000 prize went to the overall winner, the Skoda Superb estate, while the Jaguar XF 2.2D Luxury won in the £31,000 to £41,000 bracket, with the judges commenting on the ride and performance. Jaguar won again in the £41,000 to £51,000 bracket with the XF Sportbrake 3.0 litre diesel Portfolio, a car the judges described as ‘just brilliant’.
The competition then turned to the four-wheel drive awards, which are divided into vehicles above or below 1,800kg. The under 1,800kg category was again won by the all-conquering Skoda Superb Elegance estate, while the over 1,800 weight range was won by the Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography. This was described as being ‘simply perfect’ for towing on flat or hilly roads.
There was also a judges’ special award for the Dacia Duster Ambiance 4x4, which retails for just over £14,000. The judges reckoned this budget 4x4 toed ‘really well, without any fuss.'
As the summer holidays approach, caravan owners are sure to have a great choice of cars to power their travels.