If you think it’s predictable that the Škoda Octavia has won our lightest weight class, you’d be quite right. This is win number six.
But those who are paying close attention will notice something that has never happened before – a petrol tow car has won its weight class for the first time in the 13-year history of the Tow Car Awards.
Every car we tested in 2019’s lightest weight class is a petrol, but don’t let that give you the impression this is a soft victory. The Octavia 1.5 TSI wins on merit.
Forget about any notion of a petrol engine being gutless and needing to be revved hard when towing. This 1.5-litre engine has 184lb ft of torque, enough to pull a van weighted to 85% of the car’s kerbweight in a lively 10.6 seconds.
Our hill-start test shows up any weakness from the engine and transmission, but for a relatively light petrol car, the Octavia handled the test very well.
It pulled up the 1-in-6 slope without complaint, with the DSG auto saving the driver from having to finesse throttle and clutch. However, some drivers noticed a hot smell after reversing a short distance up the far slope.
For a relatively small car with a low kerbweight, the Octavia is stable at speed. It copes very well with emergency braking, too, stopping from 30mph in 11.4 metres.
Many small cars found the lane-change test a struggle, but light and accurate steering made the Octavia very easy to place, although the car leaned heavily when really pushed.
The likes of the Nissan Qashqai run the Škoda close as a tow car, but as a vehicle to live with every day, the Octavia has a clear edge over the competition.
The huge boot has room for a full load of holiday luggage, and rear-seat space is more generous than you’re going to find in many much larger cars.
Combine that with keen pricing, generous equipment and low running costs, and you have a worthy winner.
1.4 T-Gdi First Edition
1.0 T-GDi Exclusive Auto
DIG-T 160 Tekna Auto
1.0 TSI 115 FR
Hatch 1.5 TSI 150PS SE L DSG
1.4 BoosterJet AllGrip SZ5