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Towcar Of The Year 2012


lottie
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I see its that time of the year again when the Caravan Club reveals the results of the 2012 competition. If you haven't seen the report, there is information here: http://www. caravancl. ..he-year-awards/ .

 

This year the Volkswagen Jetta Sport 2. 0TDI DSG was voted overall Towcar of the year. The Škoda Superb Estate Elegance 2. 0 DSG; the Volkswagen Touareg Escape 3. 0 V6 TDI and the Volvo V60 D5 AWD Volvo Ocean Race were winners in their classes.

 

This is the 29th year this award has been made. Previous winners were:

 

 

1984 Citroën BX 16 TRS

1985 Volvo 360 GLEi

1986 Ford Sierra XR 4x4

1987 Renault 21 GTS

1988 Vauxhall Senator 3. 0i CD

1989 Vauxhall Cavalier SRi Saloon

1990 Vauxhall Cavalier 4x4 2. 0i

1991 Rover 416 GTi 16v

1992 Volvo 940 SE Turbo

1993 Vauxhall Calibra Turbo

1994 Citroën Xantia 1. 9 TD VSX

1995 Renault Laguna RT 2. 0

1996 Vauxhall Vectra 2. 0i 16v GLS

1997 Peugeot 406 GLX DT 2. 1

1998 Citroën Xantia V6 Exclusive

1999 Audi A6 Avant 2. 5 TDi

2000 Seat Toledo V5

2001 Volkswagen Golf V6 4MOTION

2002 Peugeot 406 2. 2 GTX HDi Estate

2003 Škoda SuperbV6 2. 5 TDI Elegance

2004 Subaru Forester 2. 0 XT

2005 Mazda 6 2. 0-D Estate TS2 (136ps)

2006 Kia Sorento 2. 5 CRDi XE

2007 Volvo V50 D5 Sport

2008 Ford Mondeo Titanium X Estate

2009 Škoda Superb 2. 0 TDI

2010 Volkswagen Golf SE 2. 0TDI

2011 Škoda Superb Estate Elegance 2. 0 TDI

 

I wonder what others make of the usefulness of this award and its record in spotting the best and most practical caravan towcars??

Edited by lottie
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One thing to consider is that the towcar of the year is based almost entirely on its towing ability. Whilst this seems quite obvious they don't appear to take into account reliability, insurance, company tax etc which make up a large part of other car reviews.

 

I've been looking at the top candidates (not just winners) and then compared them to reviews from Parkers, WhatCar and Honest John to get an overall picture.

Tim
Developer | Caravan Talk

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One thing to consider is that the towcar of the year is based almost entirely on its towing ability. Whilst this seems quite obvious they don't appear to take into account reliability, insurance, company tax etc which make up a large part of other car reviews.

 

I've been looking at the top candidates (not just winners) and then compared them to reviews from Parkers, WhatCar and Honest John to get an overall picture.

 

 

Its actually quite hard to work out exactly what they do take into account. The cars are supposed to be rated on:

 

towing

driving

"caravanability" (which seems to mean nose wt, space for kit and suitability for towbar and electrics)

value for money (whatever that means - does it include cost of running etc? )

 

None of the ratings for these attributes are given in the CC report so its not possible to know whether the runners up were almost as good or massively outclassed by the winners.

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The entrants are also only those submitted by the manufacturers. It is thus an unrepresentative subset of the market. I regard it as a well-conducted but entirely pointless exercise.

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I agree this has become a completely pointless exercise and as far as I am concerned the results are irrelevant.

 

 

 

There were 30 cars being tested, of these only 7 would be capable of pulling my van. This is sticking to the 85% rule as the club must be wanting to promote responsible towing. This means that over 75% of the cars tested are irrelevant to me not that I am currently considering changing car or van

 

 

 

According to the table the Jetta can pull a van with a 1225 kg or less MTPL, the test was undertaken with Baileys. If you check you will see that over 4 ranges of vans Bailey produce 20 different models, of these only one the Orion 400-2 has an MTPL of less than 1225Kg. So the tow car of the year can only tow 5% of the Bailey range who with their Alu-Tech Construction have some of the lightest vans on the market. Note that this restriction also applies to 4 other cars tested, i. e. 16% of cars tested could only pull one van out of the Bailey range.

 

 

 

In my opinion the term Tow Car of the Year suggests a car that you could expect to reasonably tow a family caravan, so the testing should also take into account the number of berths the equipment levels, etc. Everybody is different and has different requirements but to me a car that is only capable of towing very lightweight vans is not a tow car.

 

 

 

I know people will argue that you can tow more than 85% and you don't have to load up to the full MTPL but for testing purposes this is the guidelines that have been used and to me this has failed in my opinion to produced a relevant result

 

 

 

ElBeardo :)

Edited by Elbeardo
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I certainly agree with the basic sentiments expressed above. To spend all that money, ours the members that is, and then come to the conclusion that the Jetta and I quote "streams to victory" is just a joke. I can see a justification in it winning it's class but overall winner no way.

 

 

Certainly this years report is best summed up as disappointing and irrelevant to myself, and I suspect the overall majority of members. I believe the CC invite manufacturers to submit vehicles and are then at the mercy of what cars they are sent. This years crop is particularly bad and must have stretched the editorial grey matter more than a bit.

 

Giving the award to the Jetta with such a low towing limit has just undermined the whole thing. Whilst I understand the Pricing structure the CC base the awards on surely this is approaching the competition from the wrong direction. Could they for instance take the existing band of vans and then test the best cars to tow that van structured on towing limits. Each car would be given a comprehensive numbered score for the usual things like stability, power e. t. c. and working from a known and constant datum year after year. After all the judges we are told give each aspect a score so 'publish and be damned.'

 

This score to remain available until say 10 years after the vehicle ceased production, (Yes I know this information is sometimes available, but it is not easy to access and not reproduced each year). In this a data base of useful, understandable information would be built up and enable those of us thinking about a new or second hand tow car to compare our existing car against a the latest Vehicles, or indeed any others on the date base.

 

With regard to the vehicles supplied as an example the latest Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Kia sportage are in very short supply with long waiting lists. Are the manufacturers going to submit cars to test, that they can't supply enough of at present, probably not. So at present we have an unrepresentative sample of cars, used in a test that is structured from the wrong end, divided into price banding. Price is important but does not give a representative banding structure for this type of test. The information provided is far too imprecise as well. As an example tell us the car has a space saver spare wheel OK but we need to know if it is approved for towing without invalidating a warranty !

 

As a last thought. Those manufacturers invited to submit vehicles should be named and the reasons for refusing, if any, published.

NB Letter of similar content on the way to the Caravan Club. wonder if they will publish it. ?

Edited by Alan Stanley
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I agree the tests are largely pointless.

 

Until cars in the same group tow the same ballast, then towing ability cannot be compared, in the same group.

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Same here a pointless excercise based on the opinions of so called "experts" who've had a few days playing around with some cars lent too them by some dealers.

 

 

 

peter.

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I agree the tests are largely pointless.

 

Until cars in the same group tow the same ballast, then towing ability cannot be compared, in the same group.

 

Hi xtrailman. This expression of yours is very similar to my own thoughts on the matter. Firstly,please correct me if I am wrong but I understand that the caravans supplied are all devoid of the 'regular interiors' and are simply shells and ballasted mobile boxes.

How can a towing test be judged using examples that don't conform with what the 'Real World' towing is about. caravans that have cupboards and other fitments fastened to the walls and floor area with the usual claptrap slung in are going to behave totally different to a stage managed product.

The VW Jetta is little more than a more 'Saloon-ised' version of the VW Golf / VW Sirocco or perhaps the Audi A3.

My first introduction to the original zippy little rocket was the first generation back in 1984 when it was depicted as Rear Wheel Drive with flames issuing from the rear tyres,this was in a 'reputable' car magazine of the period.

The notion of using the products from only one manufacturer and all new at that, is very unrealistic indeed.

With the pre-owned caravan market having the masses of available stock and the respective dealer in-line for some 'Free Advertising' why are there not a few pre-owned being hauled and mauled around the test tracks.

What could also be taken into account is the other side of the coin,The Over 85% Animal in the hands of the 'Reported Real Experts'.

There are many of us,I AM SURE that tow well over the 85%. I am not talking about towing with a Renault Clio I am referring to a substantial tried and tested range of earlier generation Tow Cars Of Their Years,not least of all the stalwart Volvo V70 in the two most likely guises,I mean the D5 & the 2. 4 or 2. 5T in both Manual and Geartronic/Automatic variants.

The trusty Ford Mondeo and the larger Vauxhall saloons and estate cars.

I myself tow at 95/97% using one of two different generation Volvo V70's but then I have 44yrs+ towing experience.

The manoeuvring and directional changes are not carried out on the real world ***** surfaces that we all tow on and I believe that the speeds that are used at extremes of the controlled conditions are slightly skewed because of the 'Trim' that the vans are presented in.

The notion of using all new cars is well and good,the reality is most don't have them and likely cannot afford them.

A new models rated today in the hands of 'Experts' are a very different animal to the same model several years down the pre-owned market road and in the hands of Newbies & Improver's.

Life in general can be a journey of chance with some winners and sadly some losers. Your outfit can never be left to chance. A short-while carrying out essential checks can ensure a long-time of happy & safe caravanning for all concerned.
Ignorance can often be bliss but is certainly not an excuse and when continually disregarded they can be totally disastrous for oneself and the innocent parties.

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Loading the towed van to 85% of the tow cars kerbweight is only logical up to a point.

To make a heavy vehicle tow at a weight which no caravanner would tow up to is silly.

The realistic situation for those of us with big modern 4X4s is we are way below that and would struggle to find vans heavy enough to reach just 70%.

These larger vehicles as used by members to tow normal caravans are undoubtedly a better towcar, albeit at mind bending cost of ownership, but as a towcar most are way better than a family car.

 

A car that inhibits your van choice cant be by my definition the "best".

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Given my own experience of towing with a very similar car, I agree that the Jetta Sport is probably a very good towcar. However, this information is of little use to owners of what people regard as a 'family sized caravan'. It might make more sense to make awards to 'Class Winners' and ditch the idea of an 'Overall Winner'. The question then would be whether the classes should be based on price alone or on type of vehicle etc. Clearly it's very difficult to devise a competition which is going to appear fair and sensible to all types of owner. This sort of competition has its place but perhaps not in its present form.

 

 

John.

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A car that inhibits your van choice cant be by my definition the "best".

 

A perfectly valid point here JTQ. The 'Best' in the case of Tow Car of the Year is very subjective.

I myself do not feel very 'At Home' in a large 4x4,my preference has always been a Large Family Estate Cars. This has been amplified by my string of Cortina,Granada,Scorpio Ultima & Volvo 850/V70 estates.

I have always judged them as a balance of capability with affordable running costs for both duties.

My definition of 'Best' is probably very different to that of a great many others.

Life in general can be a journey of chance with some winners and sadly some losers. Your outfit can never be left to chance. A short-while carrying out essential checks can ensure a long-time of happy & safe caravanning for all concerned.
Ignorance can often be bliss but is certainly not an excuse and when continually disregarded they can be totally disastrous for oneself and the innocent parties.

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Well said all of you. If you ballast a caravan with sandbags at floor level, it will respond a lot differently to a 'van that has stuff in overhead lockers, gas bottles at the front etc. then gets sideswiped by a vehicle on the motorway doing in excess of the permitted 70. It's totally different to being on a test track. More reason then for newbies to listen to Caravantalk and pick up the combined experiences of all on the forum. More power to our elbow. Cheers Peter :)

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Well said all of you. If you ballast a caravan with sandbags at floor level, it will respond a lot differently to a 'van that has stuff in overhead lockers, gas bottles at the front etc. then gets sideswiped by a vehicle on the motorway doing in excess of the permitted 70. It's totally different to being on a test track. More reason then for newbies to listen to Caravantalk and pick up the combined experiences of all on the forum. More power to our elbow. Cheers Peter :)

 

 

Hi to you all out there. I have been 'upping the anti' for years and even before I became a visible member/contributor on the basis that Caravan Talk is the BEST & most informative and on occasions the liveliest forum dedicated to our common interest,THE CARAVAN.

Long may it continue to be the BEST.

Life in general can be a journey of chance with some winners and sadly some losers. Your outfit can never be left to chance. A short-while carrying out essential checks can ensure a long-time of happy & safe caravanning for all concerned.
Ignorance can often be bliss but is certainly not an excuse and when continually disregarded they can be totally disastrous for oneself and the innocent parties.

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VW seem to be doing well in the tow car awards .

 

C&CC awards

 

http://www. campingan. ..s/towcarawards/

 

 

Dave

 

I'm not a fan of C&CC generally but their report on their Towcar tests is miles better than the CC one in my view. The level of information on each car is far better and the range of cars more realistic.

 

 

Also dividing towcars cars into clear weight bands makes more sense than the price bands used by CC. Anybody would think we are supposed to aim for a car that is at least 85% of the cost of the van or something? I wonder if the broad price bandings were a reflection of the fact that rather few makers actually seem to have submitted cars to the CC event?

 

Its not clear how the C&CC assembled the cars . ...did they decide what they wanted to test or rely on manufacturers volunteering cars like the CC? Maybe the C&CC link with What Car? means its Towcar award has more credibility with the car makers? Or do the makers check out the age and social class of the C&CC market compared with the CC one before submitting cars? The CC make no bones about their membership demographics:

http://www. caravancl. ..emographics. asp

 

The really ridiculous part of the CC test was to invite a former Formula 1 driver along for the event. ... what purpose did that serve? An attempt to give it some sort of "celebrity" appeal?

Edited by lottie
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I'm not a fan of C&CC generally but their report on their Towcar tests is miles better than the CC one in my view. The level of information on each car is far better and the range of cars more realistic.

 

 

Also dividing towcars cars into clear weight bands makes more sense than the price bands used by CC. Anybody would think we are supposed to aim for a car that is at least 85% of the cost of the van or something? I wonder if the broad price bandings were a reflection of the fact that rather few makers actually seem to have submitted cars to the CC event?

 

Its not clear how the C&CC assembled the cars . ...did they decide what they wanted to test or rely on manufacturers volunteering cars like the CC? Maybe the C&CC link with What Car? means its Towcar award has more credibility with the car makers? Or do the makers check out the age and social class of the C&CC market compared with the CC one before submitting cars? The CC make no bones about their membership demographics:

http://www. caravancl. ..emographics. asp

 

The really ridiculous part of the CC test was to invite a former Formula 1 driver along for the event. ... what purpose did that serve? An attempt to give it some sort of "celebrity" appeal?

 

 

Hi Lottie. A good post here and I suspect very much the view of others. I wonder if The C&CC test committee indeed base their choices on Logical Tow-cars or 'The latest Offerings' to be pandered too.

I made a point in an early posting that the choice of caravans were tantamount very subjective and ring-fenced by the singular manufacturer offerings & they way that they were 'trimmed' for the testing.

Tow-vehicles are judged by the towing public based on their own experiences of using the various models available,Whilst purchase price is important the ability to do the job is paramount. Judging the ability against the price to do the job is daft,money does not tow the caravan,the caravan is towed by a product.

If price was the parameter then having a fully loaded version of model 'A' pitted against the rock-bottom basic version of model 'A' might see no real difference at all other than comfort levels whilst carrying out the tow-test.

There is another aspect that could be considered,that is to have the minimum tow-ability van 85% and a sensible maximum 100% van attached to each vehicle in each weight class and see how they perform.

The fact that Mr You & I are mainly using pre-owned vans with pre-owned vehicles & pre-owned vans with new vehicles or pre owned vehicles with new vans has never appeared to be a subject for honest & thorough testing.

I believe that this is yet again further evidence of continued trips into the unreality world for many caravanner's & potential Newbies.

Life in general can be a journey of chance with some winners and sadly some losers. Your outfit can never be left to chance. A short-while carrying out essential checks can ensure a long-time of happy & safe caravanning for all concerned.
Ignorance can often be bliss but is certainly not an excuse and when continually disregarded they can be totally disastrous for oneself and the innocent parties.

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The vehicles used in the Practical caravan / What Car? / C&CC are requested by the person organising the event. For a vehicle to be a contender it must be a) a returning winner (overall and/or class), B) be a new vehicle, or c) have been significantly updated since the last event. I believe that this person has been a CC judge in the past and recognised a number of flaws. No such event can ever be perfect for numerous reasons, and not everyone will like the results. However, no-one is forced to buy any of the vehicles tested, whether they win or not. Having said that, there are popular tow cars being used, that quite frankly, when judged against others at the event are awful, BUT, people swear by them.

 

Whilst most of the new cars tested are well out of my price range, they might not be in a year or two's time when they're on the second-hand market.

Edited by nigel207
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The vehicles used in the Practical caravan / What Car? / C&CC are requested by the person organising the event. For a vehicle to be a contender it must be a) a returning winner (overall and/or class), B) be a new vehicle, or c) have been significantly updated since the last event. I believe that this person has been a CC judge in the past and recognised a number of flaws.

 

Thank you for that information Nigel. Its very interesting.

 

 

. ..there are popular tow cars being used, that quite frankly, when judged against others at the event are awful, BUT, people swear by them.

 

I'd be interested to hear your candidates for Most Awful Popular Towcar of the Year

 

Of course people often buy a car mainly to suit their everyday use (or just to suit their fancy) rather than with towing in mind.

 

Choice of car is not always completely rational. People feel (rightly or wrongly) that different brands and models say different things about their owners.

Edited by lottie
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After basic stability, my next criteria is reliability - something that you'll never read about on these tests.

 

The homework has paid off - current towcar is now 4. 5 years old with no breakdowns at all yet. I considered changing it at 3 when the warranty expired, but with no issues I decided to keep it. Don't see me changing it for a few years yet!

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After basic stability, my next criteria is reliability - something that you'll never read about on these tests.

 

The homework has paid off - current towcar is now 4. 5 years old with no breakdowns at all yet. I considered changing it at 3 when the warranty expired, but with no issues I decided to keep it. Don't see me changing it for a few years yet!

 

Its difficult to "test" for reliability since its something that has to be demonstrated over a long period. There are surveys of reliability that you can consult to check out possible tow cars. What Car? do one:

 

http://www. whatcar. c. ..vey-2011/258307

 

and so do the Consumer Association (publishers of Which?).

 

They seem to come to similar conclusions - Japanese and Korean Cars tend to be among the most reliable and Jeep, Saab, Renault, Alfa Romeo and Land Rovers among the least. Fords outperform many of the German marques.

 

We all have to face that decision sooner or later on when/whether to replace a car. ... I know what you mean about feeling confident in a car that hasn't let you down but in reality all we can say is it hasn't let us down yet. ...

Edited by lottie
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After basic stability, my next criteria is reliability - something that you'll never read about on these tests.

 

The homework has paid off - current towcar is now 4. 5 years old with no breakdowns at all yet. I considered changing it at 3 when the warranty expired, but with no issues I decided to keep it. Don't see me changing it for a few years yet!

 

 

Hi Tigger & to you all out there. This is exactly what I have been doing for years & years & years.

I found way back in 1983 that for the mix of work that both I and my cars had thrown at us that the old Mk2 Ford Granada Auto Estate was JUST FINE. They were all bought pre-owned with less than 30,000miles on each. I had three on the trot and covered massive mileages in each,every one of them was taken beyond 220,000miles. Then in 1994 I bought a very last of the Ford Sierra 2. 0 Ghia Auto Estates with 30,000miles on and that cost me a new gearbox at 160,000 (the infamous 4ALD) then 5wks later it was rear ended and written off.

I ran a Rover 825i Sterling Auto for 5yrs and up -to 240,000miles+ .

Now I am on my third Volvo,the 1st was a 94 850 CD Auto,then my 97 V70 T5 CD Auto,now with 197500miles and still going like a train on steroids. The current tow car is a 2. 4T SE Geartronic.

If they are doing the job and require minimal major work and are otherwise reliable & comfortable,WHY SELL/.

Selling them on is a bit like selling on part of yourself.

When I look back over the years and the massive mileages that I have covered both towing & solo I have done very well,long may it continue.

Life in general can be a journey of chance with some winners and sadly some losers. Your outfit can never be left to chance. A short-while carrying out essential checks can ensure a long-time of happy & safe caravanning for all concerned.
Ignorance can often be bliss but is certainly not an excuse and when continually disregarded they can be totally disastrous for oneself and the innocent parties.

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Rooster,

 

I couldn't agree more! We seem to get far too hung up on having the latest this or that (for the Jones' benefit - apologies to the Mr and Mrs Jones out there!). In France they buy a car and generally keep it until it drops (to bits usually!), and then think about a new one.

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Rooster,

 

I couldn't agree more! We seem to get far too hung up on having the latest this or that (for the Jones' benefit - apologies to the Mr and Mrs Jones out there!). In France they buy a car and generally keep it until it drops (to bits usually!), and then think about a new one.

 

 

I think there is a lot of sense in this. ...once the value of your car has depreciated you might as well run it while you can rather than replace it with another fast depreciating asset.

 

But the temptation to replace nowadays isn't just about keeping up with the Joneses given that the fuel economy of more uptodate cars is much greater than even three to five year old cars. The uptodate verison of my 50mpg 2006 car is now rated at 70mpg. Of course if you don't do a huge mileage annually its doubtful whether even the potential additional fuel savings of a brand new car will repay the additional cost/depreciation. But greater fuel economy/reduced emissions seem to be being achieved by making cars far more complex and the potential fuel savings can be further eaten up by additional servicing costs if that complexity means you can't service them yourself or when when there are expensive items like diesel particle filters have to be replaced. So the newer cars are not necessarily more economical overall in the longer term for all their improved mpg.

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Hi to you all out there. Further to my previous post and a recap on what I have already said in the past regarding older cars.

Both of my Volvo V70's are in the two lowest Road-fund categories for their class of vehicle. They are both paid for and I therefore have the minimum of outlay (no costly loans to consider). The main reason for having them both is the fact of having a back-up tow-car if ever needed.

Life in general can be a journey of chance with some winners and sadly some losers. Your outfit can never be left to chance. A short-while carrying out essential checks can ensure a long-time of happy & safe caravanning for all concerned.
Ignorance can often be bliss but is certainly not an excuse and when continually disregarded they can be totally disastrous for oneself and the innocent parties.

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