New Volkswagen Passat named Britain’s best tow car by What Car?

New Volkswagen Passat named Britain’s best tow car by What Car?
New Volkswagen Passat named Britain’s best tow car by What Car?

The Volkswagen Passat has been named the best car for towing for a record fourth time at the annual What Car? Tow Car Awards, held in partnership with the Camping and Caravanning Club and supported by Adria Caravans.

Britain’s leading consumer champion and new car deals platform, What Car?, and the towing experts at the Camping and Caravanning Club gave the Passat the overall win due to its huge breadth of abilities.

What Car? editor Steve Huntingford explained: “The new Passat shows that you don’t need a CEO’s salary to buy a brilliant, modern tow car. Despite being relatively light, it pulls with the assurance and stability of a heavyweight. What’s more, it has powerful brakes, remains unflappable during a sudden lane change, and is as comfortable as it is practical.”

The Camping and Caravanning Club’s Huw Hopkins, a tester judge on the programme, added: “Whenever the Passat has won the overall title in the past, we’ve always recommended a diesel. But while the new car isn’t available with diesel power, the abilities of the 1.5-litre mild-hybrid petrol meant we didn’t miss it. This engine is both smooth and quiet, it copes easily with a sensibly matched caravan, and fuel economy is distinctly diesel-like.”

What Car? and the Camping and Caravanning Club have been collaborating on the Tow Car Awards since 2007, with the Passat previously taking the top prize in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Before deciding on the overall winner in 2024, the judges handed out awards to cars in four different towing weight classes, ranging from up to 1549kg, to 2000kg+.

In addition, the Kia EV9 was named best electric car for towing and the Kia Sorento best used tow car.

To decide the winners, testing was undertaken by matching eligible cars to caravans weighted to 85% of the car’s kerb weight (the maximum the Camping and Caravanning Club recommends) or its legal towing limit, depending on which was lower. They were then ballasted to simulate driving with passengers and luggage.

One of What Car?’s expert road testers was responsible for the most highly-skilled manoeuvres, designed to show which cars will stay under control in an emergency. Meanwhile, drivers from the Camping and Caravanning Club assessed high-speed stability, carried out a hill start on a 1-in-6 slope, looked for towing-friendly features – such as a trailer stability system – and confirmed whether the puncture repair provision was suitable for use while towing.

What Car?’s road test ratings were then used to assess how the cars perform when not towing. And the latest What Car? depreciation data and Reliability Survey information was also factored into the decisions.

Key brands that supported the testing in 2024 include caravan manufacturer Adria, plus Al-Ko, Milenco and Witter.

TOW CAR AWARDS 2024 WINNERS

Overall winner
Volkswagen Passat 1.5 eTSI 150 R-Line

Up to 1549kg
Ford Focus Estate 1.0 mHEV 155 Active X

1550-1699kg
Volkswagen Passat 1.5 eTSI 150 R-Line

1700-1999kg
Nissan X-Trail e-Power 213 e-4orce Tekna

2000kg+
BMW X5 xDrive50e M Sport

Electric tow car
Kia EV9 AWD GT-Line

Used tow car
Kia Sorento 2.2 CRDi 3

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