It must be a few years since I last wrote to you ñ 2008ish, I think. Back then I had a Peugeot 4007 with which I was having some brake vibration and juddering problems. We pinned down that it was probably as a result of braking over three tonnes of vehicle, with a sizeable caravan on tow. Your theory was that I was perhaps keeping my foot on the brake pedal after a substantial application of the brakes, which was causing a ìhot spotî on the by then very hot discs, leading to distortion of the discs. I think maybe it did improve after I followed your advice and always immediately put the handbrake on and took my foot off the stop pedal when I came to a halt after any substantial braking episode. I actually didn’t keep the 4007 that long after your advice, but I did apply the same thinking on other towing vehicles that I owned.
Anyway, I digress, as you would say, so to the point of my letter. After a few years living without a caravan, and with increasingly silly hotel prices these days, we are now going back to caravanning for 2019, with something relatively modest in size and weight that will need an appropriate car (our present Jazz is obviously unsuitable!), with a towing capacity of around 1,300 to 1,500kg. I wondered what your advice would be regarding suitable vehicles, bearing in mind that we’ll probably get rid of the Jazz and need to use the new car as a run-around for shopping, and ferrying the grandchildren around at times. I have taken a look at Caravan Club ratings, but they tend to judge cars primarily from a towing point of view, rather less than the all-round aspects of the car, like reliability, cost and fuel consumption. We have about £15K maximum to spend, so have a decent quality used car in mind, not a new one, with mileage not too critical up to say, 30-35,000 miles, as we won’t be doing that many miles each year in the car. I’m not keen on automatics, and certainly not twin-clutch ones, but a good torque converter automatic might be tempting, if it’s a good tower. I think 4WD is not necessary, as we stick to pretty civilised sites. I’m sure you will come up with some ideas, so many thanks!
Bill Hobbs, Blackpool
Well Bill, the sort of models that I’m coming up with are a mixed bunch, but I’m sure one of them will appeal. If you’re not snobbish (well few DC readers are, thank goodness!) and aren’t fussy about lots of electronic driver aids, you could take a look at a new or nearly new 2018 facelift Dacia Duster. Its 1.5 dCi engine is no ball of fire, but pulls well for its size, and is reliable and economical. Then my thoughts move onto Skoda Octavias, both hatchbacks and estates, where you have a fine 2.0 TDI engine available, with plenty of torque for towing, although perhaps I would avoid the DSG automatic. Plenty of caravan people rate the Nissan Qashqai, but I would veer more towards the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, with their excellent warranties, with a choice of 1.7 and 2.0 CRDi engines, of which the 1.7 is probably the nicer engine, but down on torque compared with the 2.0.
For good value, a post-facelift 2017 Ford Kuga with the 2.0 TDCi engine is a ìmust lookî car, albeit a rather thirsty one, particularly when towing, and should just scrape under your £15K limit. The final suggestion, and probably not on your list, is the SsangYong Korando, a Caravan Club highly rated car, and one with a towing capacity well above your limit. It has a tough 2.2 diesel engine with plenty of torque, an excellent optional torque converter automatic transmission, and good warranty. You’ll notice that I’m picking hatchbacks and estates, as well as high-set crossovers and SUVs, as you didn’t specify any preferences. If I had to narrow it down, I would probably look at the Kuga, the Korando, and the 2.0 TDI Octavia. I hope that gives you some ideas Bill, but I’m going to ask editor Robertson if he has any other ideas, as he’s more of a towing man than meÖ and the boss says that he doesn’t quibble with any of my suggestions, but he would like to throw in the previous model Mazda CX-5 (very highly rated by Diesel Car reader Mike Arnold) and the Honda CR-V, both of which happily pull heavier ‘vans than you have in mind. Good luck with the search! Keep me posted!