Volkswagen Passat Estate is Britain’s top towcar for 2011

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Friday 17 June 2011

Towcar Awards 2011

Towcar Awards 2011

Volkswagen’s Passat Estate 2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport has been named the overall winner in the Towcar Awards 2011.

The Towcar Awards is Britain’s toughest towcar test, taking expertise from Practical Caravan, the Camping and Caravanning Club and What Car? to deliver definitive verdicts on the best towing performers. In 2011, judges were unanimous in their praise for the winner.

Practical Caravan editor Nigel Donnelly said: "The Volkswagen Passat Estate tows brilliantly. It’s a pleasure to drive and travel in, economical to run and easy to live with. It also provides unshakeable stability and responsive steering, which leaves drivers fresh, ready to unhitch and start enjoying their holiday."

The Volkswagen Passat offers a remarkable average economy figure of 60.1mpg. Fuel efficiency is boosted by the engine’s stop-start system, which cuts the engine in stationary traffic and starts it again when the driver is ready to move off. Carbon dioxide emissions of just 123g/km are lower than those of many smaller cars and mean the Passat Estate will cost just £95 per year in road tax. It won the 1425-1574kg weight class as well as the overall prize.

Towcar Awards 2011

Volkswagen also scooped the Up to 1424kg category with its Golf 2.0 TDI Match 5dr for the second year in a row.

The Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi won the 1575-1724kg category and the BMW 520d Touring SE the 1725-1899kg category. Last year’s overall winner, the Land Rover Discovery, proved it’s still a great towcar by picking up the 1900kg and above category.

Chevrolet’s seven-seat Orlando 2.0 VCDi MPV is a great all-round vehicle that won’t break the bank, attributes which made it the Budget MPV winner.

This year’s Green Award went to Vauxhall for the Astra Sports Tourer. Donnelly said: "The remarkable Astra Sports Tourer impressed all the judges. It has stability that matched some of the best models in the top weight category – which is some accolade. Running costs are low with promises of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of just 119g/km. A few cars in this year’s tests beat those figures, but none tows as well as the Astra."

The Mazda CX-7 2.2D Sport Tech won the Editor’s Choice award. Donnelly commented: "The Mazda is a good match for many a mid-range tourer. Unlike many cars in its class it’s an engaging drive with precise steering, good brakes and generous standard kit."

Practical Caravan, in association with the Camping and Caravanning Club and What Car?, hitched 50 cars to caravans in their quest to find the best towing cars for 2011 to help holidaymakers make the right choice this year.

Jim Holder, editor of What Car? magazine, said: "What Car? has long helped people to buy their next new car with confidence, and we’re proud to be part of tests that help people to choose their next towcar with the same confidence."

Matthew Eastlake, the Club’s Marketing & Communications Director, added: "The Towcar Awards is now an established event in the club’s calendar and the aim has always been to provide campers and caravanners with the very best and latest information about the leading vehicles suitable for towing.

"Our rigorous, robust tests, carried out by our experienced judges, ensure results are accurate and genuine and we believe that this helps our members to take informed decisions about high-value purchases. Hopefully they are able to enjoy safe, comfortable and enjoyable motoring as a result."

Overall winner Volkswagen Passat Estate 2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport
List price £26,010
What Car? Target Price £24,143
Kerbweight 1563kg
85% match 1329kg
Max towing weight 1800kg
Towball limit 90kg

Class winners
Up to 1424kg VW Golf 2.0 TDI 140 Match 5dr
1425-1574kg & overall VW Passat Estate 2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport
1575-1724kg Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi 163 Titanium Powershift
1725-1899kg BMW 520d Touring SE auto
Over 1900kg Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 XS
Budget MPV Chevrolet Orlando 2.0 VCDi LTZ
Green Award Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 1.7 CDTi 16v (125PS) Ecoflex SE
Editor’s Choice Mazda CX-7 2.2D Sport Tech

"With over £1billion annually spent on towcars, there is a real thirst for unbiased buying advice. Consumers want to buy a great towcar that works for their holiday – when they are towing their pride and joy. It also has to work in real life, on the daily commute, weekly shop and school run, as well as making sense financially. The Volkswagen Passat does all this and more," said Donnelly.

Practical Caravan’s Top Tips for Safe Towing

Be aware of any strange handling of your outfit. Don’t ignore it. Pull over and check the tyres for damage or under/overinflation.

Make sure you load your van correctly, put heavy things over the axle and lighter objects at the back and in the roof lockers.

Walk around your outfit to visually check the hitch, electrics and tyres every time you stop.

Check the car manufacturer’s recommendations for increased tyre pressure when towing a caravan and check whether the outfit is level. If the car is sagging it could indicate a high noseweight.

Make sure you have towing mirrors fitted every time you tow and that you use them to see the length of the caravan and beyond. It will help you to spot any large, fast-moving vehicles likely to cause a bow wave.

Ensure your towcar is capable of towing your van. Consult the handbook for its kerbweight and towing limit. Outfit matching is vitally important. Check van chassis plate for MTPLM.

Editors Notes

Vehicles were put through a series of specially devised tests for stability, hill starts, acceleration and braking, and practicality. These took place at the Motor Industry Research Centre (MIRA) in Warwickshire.

  • Around 400,000 households each year choose their new car on the basis of its towing ability – this equates to an annual spend of over £1bn on new cars used for towing.
  • The kerbweight of a car is the unladen weight with allowances for a driver and fuel.
  • The Camping and Caravanning Club reported that site occupancy (April 2011) was 15% up on the same period last year. (
  • The Club launched ‘Real Richness – The List’ on Monday, April 18, 2011. Evidence proved that camping does make you richer in mind, body and soul.


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Editorial Notes:

  1. The Camping and Caravanning Club is 110-years-old and is the largest and oldest Club in the world for all forms of camping. It has 109 award-winning sites throughout the UK and, through a partnership with the Forestry Commission, now runs and manages a further 20 Forest Holidays Caravan & Camping Touring Sites.
  2. was launched on Monday, May 18, 2009 and incorporates all forms of outdoor holidays.
  3. National awards include:
  • Midlands CIPR PRide Awards 2010 Gold Winner – New to Camping (not-for-profit)
  • Midlands CIPR PRide Awards 2010 Silver Winner – New to Camping (consumer relations)
  • Loo of the Year 2010 - National Category Award Winner (Holiday Parks) – Skye Club Site (Scotland)
  • David Bellamy Conservation Award 2011 – Delamere Forest Club Site (Gold)
  • David Bellamy Conservation Award 2011 – Corfe Castle Club Site (Gold)
  • David Bellamy Conservation Award 2011 – Oban Club Site (Gold)
  • David Bellamy Conservation Award 2011 – Chipping Norton (Silver)
  • Which Motorhome Sites of the Year 2011- Dunbar Club Site
  • Practical Motorhome 2010 Top 50 Sites Regional Winner – Hereford Club Site
  • Caravan/Motor Caravan 2010 Top 101 Sites Winner – Sandringham Club Site
  • AA Campsite of the Year Heart of England 2010 – Teversal Club Site
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - Family Friendly Facilities Overall Trophy Winner
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - Individual Category National Award Winner (England)
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - Family Friendly National Award Winner (England)
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - Individual Attendant Team National Award Winner (Glencoe Club Site – Scotland)
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - ‘Champions League’ – Standards of Excellence
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - National Category Award Winner (Holiday Parks) – Teversal Club Site (England)
  • Loo of the Year 2009 - National Category Award Winner (Holiday Parks) – Dunbar Club Site (Scotland)