The Skoda holds on to its crown as our favourite tow car weighing less than 1400kg, and does so in some style.

As you’d expect of a former overall winner, it tows beautifully. Only in strong crosswinds or when towing the illegal side of 60mph did our test drivers need to make corrections with the steering. Data from the Al-Ko ATC system shows just how stable car and caravan were when slowing from high speeds.

In the lane-change test the Octavia inspired confidence. On the third and fastest run the caravan was sliding dramatically, but the Skoda pulled it straight again without being dragged off its line.

The Skoda is happy to tow at a decent pace, too. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is used by the Volkswagen Group in a number of larger, heavier cars than the Octavia, so it has no trouble pulling the Skoda and a lightweight caravan. As the 30-60mph time of 12.2 seconds shows, if you’re stuck behind slower traffic you shouldn’t be there for long. With plenty of pulling power lower down the rev range there’s no need to work the gearbox hard.

Some smaller cars struggle with the hill start test, but so long as the Skoda’s handbrake was given a firm pull it held the car still on the 1-in-6 slope. Pulling to the top needed some balance of clutch and throttle, but by the standards of this class the Octavia took the hill in its stride.

We’re judging cars first and foremost on towing ability, but the Octavia is just as happy to put in a shift on the daily commute. It handles tidily, rides well and is quiet at speed.

It’s also immensely roomy, with more than enough space for tall adults to travel comfortably in the back. What’s more, the 590-litre boot is likely to impress owners as much as it impressed our practicality judges, who rated the Octavia the most practical small tow car by some margin.

The Skoda’s a safe place to put your money, too, with respectable resale values and low running costs. It’s hard to find any significant weakness.

Category Winners
2019 Up to 1400kg

Škoda Octavia

Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG

2019 1400-1549kg

Seat Ateca

2.0 TSI 190PS FR DSG

2019 1550-1699kg

Volkswagen Arteon

2.0 TDI 150PS Elegance DSG

2019 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2019 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 SDV6 HSE

2019 Best Budget 4x4

Dacia Duster

1.5 dCi Ambiance 4x4

2019 Best Plug-In Hybrid

Land Rover Range Rover Sport

P400e HSE Dynamic

2019 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Seat Arona

1.0 TSI 115 FR

2019 Fuel Economy Award

Ford Focus Estate

1.5 EcoBlue 120PS Titanium X

Previous Winners

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport


Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*


Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG


Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance


Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport


Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS


Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic


Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto


Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

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