Last year’s overall winner, the Skoda Octavia, remains our favourite small tow car. Despite some strong new contenders, the result never seemed in serious doubt.

Most importantly, the Octavia tows brilliantly. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has punch to spare when pulling a caravan weighted to 85% of the Skoda’s modest kerbweight, accelerating from 30-60mph in just 11.6 seconds.

A good turn of speed is desirable, but stability is essential for any good tow car. The Skoda has this base covered, towing with the security of a much bigger car in most conditions, although one or two of our judges found themselves making steering corrections in strong crosswinds.

Smaller cars often struggle with the demands of the lane-change test, but the Octavia took this emergency manoeuvre in its stride. Even on faster runs, with the caravan flailing around behind it, the Octavia stuck to its task and pulled the tourer straight again.

The hill-start test posed little challenge to the Octavia, with the handbrake comfortably holding car and van still on the 1-in-6 slope. With plenty of pulling power, there was no need for wheel-spin or excessive clutch slip to persuade the Skoda to the top of the hill.

So, it scores highly as a tow car. What cements the Octavia’s position at the top is just how practical it is, both for towing duties and as a family workhorse. It’s huge inside, with plenty of room for adults to get comfortable in the back seats. With 590 litres of luggage space, there’s more room for bags than in many of the estate cars on test.

Given that the Octavia is also good to drive without a caravan, comprehensively equipped and good value, it’s hard to find any obvious 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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