Some classes are hard to judge, but not this one. For the second year, the Volkswagen Golf has emerged as the clear winner.
In spite of having the third-lowest kerbweight of any car in this year’s tests, the Golf feels like a much bigger car when you’re towing.
That’s due partly to the engine, which is more than strong enough to pull an 85% match. The 30-60mph time of 14.7 seconds is the quickest of the lightweight tow cars, and stands comparison with many larger, more powerful models. The engine is quiet and refined, too, even when it’s working hard.
It’s the chassis that really makes the Golf such a good tow car, though. Judges described it as ‘planted’, ‘confidence inspiring’ and showing ‘excellent stability’. Our test car came fitted with Adaptive Chassis Control, which gives drivers a choice of three different suspension settings for £765. Whichever mode was selected, the Golf never felt sloppy or uncontrolled. Even the sport setting was far from harsh. Al-Ko ATC system data showed the car remained in firm control of the caravan, even when slowing from high speeds.
The practicality judge was happy for the most part, too. Almost every item from our typical holiday luggage load fitted in the boot, where there was also a 12V socket. The towing mirrors were straight-forward to fit. We’d prefer a full-size spare to a space-saver, but it is permissible to use when towing.
Leave the caravan behind and the Golf is a fine all-round family hatchback. It’s entertaining enough to keep the driver happy, roomy enough to keep passengers comfortable and affordable to run. Official combined economy of 58.9mpg will keep fuel bills down, and you can expect to get back 49% of the original price after three years.