The Volkswagen Golf easily won this class last year. In 2011, the competition was much tougher, but the Golf is still our favourite small tow car.
Some lightweight cars feel nervous with a caravan behind them. Not the Golf. Even in strong crosswinds our judges found the VW stable and reassuring, a subjective impression that was backed up by the Al-Ko ATC sensors on the caravan, which showed very little movement from the tourer.
Even the emergency lane-change test didn’t upset the Golf’s composure. It breezed through the first two runs. On the third and quickest pass through the cones the caravan started to slide, but the Golf stuck to the task and was never pulled off-line.
Unlike some small tow cars, the Golf has plenty of poke for pulling any suitable match up to speed. The engine is smooth and pulls cleanly, holding 60mph in sixth gear without any complaint. There is still enough muscle in reserve to hit 70mph when it’s legal to do so.
Unhook your tourer and the Golf is a satisfying car to drive. It rivals the Ford Focus for driver appeal, with precise steering and plenty of grip, but is still comfortable on rough roads.
For a small hatchback there’s plenty of space inside, too. All but two items from our typical load of holiday luggage went into the boot.
Our practicality judge was also pleased to see comprehensive towing advice set out in the handbook and a compact spare that is suitable for towing.