Car Matching Anomalies

Oct 20, 2015
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Hello All, I need to now place an order for a company car. Whilst hopefully my trusty old VW T4 Caravelle will soldier on for a very long time to come, it seems sensible to order a company car with a towbar that I could also use if needed.
So, I've checked details on TowCar for a few motors and seen several seemingly good matches - under 85%: great, however then checked the same vehicles on Towsafe via a link from C&C club and the matches do not come out well: at best 'Experienced towers only' (which I am not.) -An anomaly.
For clarification, Cars I've been looking at are BMW X1 and X2 (2 wheel drive) and VW Passat Esates to pull a Bailey Senator Oklahoma - so not a huge van.
I'll want to be safe with a potential combination and obviously legal!
Thanks for your thoughts, Wayne
 
Nov 11, 2009
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WayneS said:
Hello All, I need to now place an order for a company car. Whilst hopefully my trusty old VW T4 Caravelle will soldier on for a very long time to come, it seems sensible to order a company car with a towbar that I could also use if needed.
So, I've checked details on TowCar for a few motors and seen several seemingly good matches - under 85%: great, however then checked the same vehicles on Towsafe via a link from C&C club and the matches do not come out well: at best 'Experienced towers only' (which I am not.) -An anomaly.
For clarification, Cars I've been looking at are BMW X1 and X2 (2 wheel drive) and VW Passat Esates to pull a Bailey Senator Oklahoma - so not a huge van.
I'll want to be safe with a potential combination and obviously legal!
Thanks for your thoughts, Wayne
Try “towcar.info” which I have found the best of the bunch and which gives you the flexibility to vary car payload, van payload, and even noseweight. But you need to be quite careful in selecting car details as there can be quite a variation between models in one particular makers range of cars. Ie X1s or Passats.
 
Oct 20, 2015
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Thank you for taking the time to reply Clive:most useful and your knowledge is much appreciated.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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By all means use the tow matching services but you must ensure the service has exactly the same vehicle specifications as the ones you are considering.

apart from the obvious things like, weights and and engine type etc, other factors such as body style, and even trim levels can affect the real vehicles capabilities. So its no good simply relying on similar model specifications. Even if they list your exact model, check the specification as most of the data bases they use do contains errors.

Ultimately it is the drivers responsibility to ensure the outfit is a safe match, and that liability cannot be deferred to a third party.

May I also remind you there was a significant change to the specification of the standard driving licence entitlements for licence issued after Jan 1997. You must have entitlement BE or B+E to drive a caravan outfit with a combined MAM exceeding 3500kg.
 
May 7, 2012
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Possibly the best bet is to go on the manufacturers web site and look up weight. The answer you want is just 75% of that although I would not even guarantee that is right as individual models do vary.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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Of what the OP has suggested having now had three of them I would heartily recommend the Passat Estate. Lovely car to drive, very stable when towing, and (at around 32mpg if you're not too heavy footed) good on towing economy (50mpg+ around town is a breeze.) BMW don't seem to think that their customers might want to tow a caravan as they have now dropped the fridge wiring option from their factory fitted bars as "there is no call for it." If you have the choice also consider the Skoda Superb Estate which is much the same as the Passat but more roomy.
Whatever decision you arrive at you should go for a test drive in all of your options before making a decision. I'm 6ft 1in and once drove a BMW 318 and found it seriously lacking in leg room. Some manufacturers will provide you with a car for 24/48 hours f.o.c. to give it a good test. If you are going to do a lot of mileage and/or keep the Co. car for the usual 4 years it is probably on balance a good investment to hire your chosen car(s) for a long weekend to give it a good try-out.
Finally and VERY IMPORTANT you MUST specify that you require a towbar with charging and fridge wiring or it will not be fitted. The installer (often the supplying dealer on Co cars) should also reprogram the ECU so that it knows you might tow and to active the towing sensing when the trailer is detected. [For the record on a Passat the ABS and traction control symbols above the dash display normally go out together but if a trailer is detected one light stays on about two seconds longer than the other.]
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Woodentop said:
Of what the OP has suggested having now had three of them I would heartily recommend the Passat Estate. Lovely car to drive, very stable when towing, and (at around 32mpg if you're not too heavy footed) good on towing economy (50mpg+ around town is a breeze.) BMW don't seem to think that their customers might want to tow a caravan as they have now dropped the fridge wiring option from their factory fitted bars as "there is no call for it." If you have the choice also consider the Skoda Superb Estate which is much the same as the Passat but more roomy.
Whatever decision you arrive at you should go for a test drive in all of your options before making a decision. I'm 6ft 1in and once drove a BMW 318 and found it seriously lacking in leg room. Some manufacturers will provide you with a car for 24/48 hours f.o.c. to give it a good test. If you are going to do a lot of mileage and/or keep the Co. car for the usual 4 years it is probably on balance a good investment to hire your chosen car(s) for a long weekend to give it a good try-out.
Finally and VERY IMPORTANT you MUST specify that you require a towbar with charging and fridge wiring or it will not be fitted. The installer (often the supplying dealer on Co cars) should also reprogram the ECU so that it knows you might tow and to active the towing sensing when the trailer is detected. [For the record on a Passat the ABS and traction control symbols above the dash display normally go out together but if a trailer is detected one light stays on about two seconds longer than the other.]
I would agree that Passat or Superb make fine estate tow cars. I have the Superb 4x4 170ps with DSG auto gearbox and it just does whatever I throw at it, and its front and rear legroom combined with luggage capacity exceeds an E-class estate. Easy to understand why taxis like them :evil:
 
Dec 6, 2013
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I agree with Woodentop that the Passat is brilliant. We're also on our third and get similar mpg figures.

My experience of the C&CC matching site is it's very simplistic and conservative. For example it will show an 84% match as 'good' and an 86% one as 'experienced towers only'. In real life you almost certainly wouldn't even feel the difference.

Wayne, if you could confirm the weight of your caravan we could probably give you some more helpful advice.
 
Oct 20, 2015
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Hello again all, first and foremost, thanks to each of you for your helpful responses.
Appreciate usefulness of a bit more detail, so a bit of background (please excuse the irrelevant if boring bits.) I passed my test in 1993. My own current car is a 2001 VW T4 Crarvelle 2.5tdi- its getting on for 170K miles but keeps on going and if I can keep it forever I will, its our weekend vehicle, ok to get muddy and good for the dog etc:
My first tow was picking up the caravan from Dorset and towing behind the T4 back to Cornwall a few short months back which went fine. (Sadly due to time and circumstance we haven't as planned been able to make use of the caravan yet but this to change very soon! :)
I started with my current firm a year ago and was given a pool car, the lease is nearly up so I can order. I was going to go for a small car as the most company car tax efficient option I could get but I do 30K + miles a year and like a bit of comfort, so if I'm going for something a bit bigger & feel I may as well go for one capable and equipped to pull the caravan if I choose to at some point: lease will be 3 years (although fully hope the T4 will stay as my weekend & tow car.)

Only makes on car list are VW,, BMW, Audi and Volvo. (V60 is nice but higher on company car tax and no Audi's in estate form). VW Passatt estate will I'm sure be what I order: quite sold on it now. Fancy DSG auto either 2.0 tdi 150 or there is a new petrol engine: 1.5 evo TSI which has 150 bhp. Diesel I'm now confident is a good match but I need to research the more tax efficient petrol model to check for suitability.

''Wayne, if you could confirm the weight of your caravan we could probably give you some more helpful advice''
Unladen Weight: 1222kg, User Payload: 269kg, MTPLM: 1491kg
I've had a second hand mover fitted approx 40kg and will load carefully / carry heavy things in the car.

Thanks if you've read the above extra info & sorry if its been tedious! Any further thoughts most gratefully received.
Very best wishes to all, Wayne
 
Oct 20, 2015
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OK further to above, can only find 'TARE Weight' online not sure of impact:
1.5 EVO TSI Petrol = 1376kg
2,0 TDI = 1466kg
 
Jun 26, 2017
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Good choice Wayne.

My stats:

2015 Passat GT Estate 150TDI. Only option is sports suspension.

Kerbweight 1505KG. Caravan MTPLM 1515KG.

Tows great ...

 
Jun 26, 2017
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It’s not a Kuga Craig ! - It’s a Passat GT with sports suspension. 15mm lower than standard. You can’t see the top of the rear tyres when it’s empty, never mind 2 kinds 1 dog and a boot full of luggage ! :p
 
Oct 12, 2013
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Nice and white just like ours ! Does it not bottom out or feel bouncy at the back off the car or does the Sport suspension give it a firm hard ride when van hooked up ? Mine will be looking a little lower than usual coming back from France next year with the amount of wine we're planning on bringing back :p B)
 
Jun 26, 2017
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You might not be going yet Craig, and even if you do, It’ll be cheaper to buy your French wine in Tesco.

I spent a few days around the French Riviera and in Northern Italy last week and the media over there are making even more of a hullabaloo about Brexit than ours is. We are the also the constant subject of ridicule at business meetings over there, not only from Europeans, but also those from the US and Asia, which doesn’t bother me at all on a personal level, but shows in which direction it’s heading ...

Anyway, we digress ...
 
Oct 20, 2015
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HI again,
Icaru5 that looks really smart! I'm quite keen on the idea of the new 1.5 petrol model- still 150 bhp but with spec I'm thinking of is best part of £50 per month less in company car tax than the tdi. BUT would it work? Srats are:
Unladen weight- 1.465 kg
Gross vehicle weight- 2.060 kg
Payload- 425 - 670 kg
Front axle load limit - 1.010 kg
Rear axle load limit 1.100 kg
Trailer load limit – Braked 12% incline –1.600 kg
Trailer load limit – Unbraked - 730 kg
Towbar load limit – 90 kg


& caravan as per previous:
Unladen Weight: 1222kg, User Payload: 269kg, MTPLM: 1491kg

- second hand mover fitted approx 40kg and will load carefully / carry heavy things in the car,

Sorry ive limited understanding
.thank you Wayne
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Wayne

The Passat range of vehicles has earned its self a good reputation as good tow vehicles. But despite the good reputation the match still has to be sensible.

The caravan industry has long (some say too long) supported guidance that novice caravanners should keep the towing ratio below 85% and only increasing towards 100% as you gain experience. The advice also goes on to suggest never to exceed 100%.

The accepted method of calculating towing ratio is (MTPLM/Kerbweight) x 100%

European Directive 95/48/EC does set out a specification for Kerbweight,

Kerbweight has no legal definition in the UK except as an EU directive , and different manufactures choose to specify it differently. Kerbweight is not the same as ULW though it will be relatively close but greater, but in this case the difference could be important.

Kerbweight should include 75kg for the driver and allowances for fuel and oils, which will increase the value over ULW. lets be mean and suggest the additional load will be 80Kg This raises the value 1571kg.

This gives a towing ratio of (1491/1571) x 100 = 95%

This falls inside the industry max 100% guidance.

Will the car work? Again the industry has long suggested a minimum of 40bhp per ton (imperial) with the cars GVW of 2060 and 1491 MTPLM gives a gross mass of 3551kg which only gives would require 142bhp, so the cars 150 should be ok. It wont sparkle under load but it should keep up with most traffic you'll encounter.

Happy caravanning
 
Nov 16, 2015
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ProfJohnL said:
Will the car work? Again the industry has long suggested a minimum of 40bhp per ton (imperial) with the cars GVW of 2060 and 1491 MTPLM gives a gross mass of 3551kg which only gives would require 142bhp, so the cars 150 should be ok. It wont sparkle under load but it should keep up with most traffic you'll encounter.

Happy caravanning
Pror Thats the old thinking, with cars producing much more torque nowadays, thats what people should be looking at, I see Motor Homes at 3500 kg, with 135 BHP but loads of torque,,,,,,,
Merry Christmas.
 
Oct 3, 2013
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I found "club" tow matching programmes full of anomalies and missing information
eg.Exact car make and model listed but no technical details listed despite these details being readily available in brochures resulting in a "no match" result.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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EH52ARH said:
Pror Thats the old thinking, with cars producing much more torque nowadays, thats what people should be looking at, I see Motor Homes at 3500 kg, with 135 BHP but loads of torque,,,,,,,
Merry Christmas.
Hello Hutch,

I think I made the point that the industry guidance is old, but perhaps I did not emphasise the probability it is out of date in the context of modern turbo engined car technology.

I fully agree its the torque figure which is of significance when towing, but power is also important, and I was referring to the "old" advice which only considers power not torque.

Regardless, the Passat/Superb range has endeared itself to many in the both caravanning usage and journalism who have voted one of the models as a best tow car on many occasions in recent years.

Happy Christmass
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Yes fully agree Passat/ Superb range are great, unfortunately a bit too light for my needs. Great for my mates glider at 12oo kg.
 
Oct 20, 2015
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Hello All, sorry for the delay in thanking for useful recent comments / advice from Prof, Hutch and Bertieboy1.
I am set on DSG automatic Passat Estate and will put my order in when back at work next week. Still debating petrol or TDI.
All things being equal, Diesel would be preferable but for my budget I can have petrol 1.5 TSI in the higher GT or R-Line spec, but can only go to SE Business spec in TDI.
Both petrol and TDI are 150 bhp,
Torque for the TDI is 250.80 lb ft at 2375 rpm, unladen weight is 1579 kg
vs for the TSI is 184.40 lb ft at 2500 rpm, unladen weight is 1465 kg
Are these differences particularly significant?
Sorry for being a pain, but confusing to me.
Thanks Wayne
 
Jun 26, 2017
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Hello Wayne,

Quoting only the PEAK torque figures and the RPM at which they occur for each vehicle doesn’t give any real world representation of how each of the cars drive.

It’s interesting how you quote the RPM at which the peak torque occurs, but not the RPM at which the peak power output occurs !

I’m not going to open another protracted torque and power debate here and so will leave that one there !

Anyway, back to your dilemma Wayne, considering engine choice alone, my preference would be the diesel every time, however, If I was in your predicament, unless the 1.5TSi drives like an absolute dog, which I am sure it won’t, then the GT or R-Line option is a no brainier.

With alcantata/leather interior, stitched leather door handles, brushed aluminium trim, panoramic roof and anthracite wheels, the GT is a nice place to spend time in and with, and feels so much more upmarket than the rather plain SE business, and can hold its own against more premium German marques. Mine’s a little over 3 years old now and has covered about 110K Miles. In Estate form, it’s a great all-rounder, it gets hammered day in, day out as a motorway mile muncher, family car, tip-runner, and wet and muddy dog carrier and looks brand new again with a just a quick clean.

Even though you’ve posted your dilemma on a Caravan forum, when you consider how much time you’ll actually spend towing, in relation to how many hours you’ll spend living with the car on a daily basis, I really don’t think it’s worth passing up the opportunity to have what is in essence a much nicer car just so that you will have that’s extra low-end grunt when pulling your van.

Maybe you could test drive a Passat of any trim level with the 1.5TSi ? - and unless there’s something which you really dislike about the engine. place your order and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

(But then refrain from test driving a 2.0TDI and just enjoy your GT or R-Line ! :p )
 
Oct 20, 2015
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Hi Icaru5,
Thank you so very much for taking the time to type your words of wisdom!
I quoted the figures for torque / RPM purely because they were listed & my lacking of knowledge / understanding :they don't mean a lot to me.

I do however agree with your sensible and reasoned response, very vast majority of my driving time will not be towing... & I currently hope my towing will be covered by my old faithful VW T4:

TSI it is, ....... importantly, up to the job if I decide to use it as a tug! (Your Rig does look really smart)
Thank you again, Wayne
 
Dec 6, 2013
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Icaru5 - I actually preferred the cloth seats in the 2015 SE Business model (which I have) to the part leather ones in the GT which felt less comfortable, but I guess we're all different!

Wayne - mine is also the 2.0 TDI and I haven't driven the TSI version. However ...

In general terms and put very simply, most diesel engines deliver most of their power and torque at lower engine speeds than most diesel ones. In practice this means that under heavy loads (such as towing), you can spend more time in higher gears (as you would when driving solo) and the experience will feel more comfortable. Doing the same thing with a petrol engine will result in you spending more time in lower gears with the engine revving harder.

An added feature with the VW 1.5 TSI engine is its ability to shut down two cylinders when the engine is not under load (basically to improve the published mpg and CO2 emissions figures). However, this is unlikely to occur significantly, if at all when you're towing with the result that fuel economy will probably take a nose-dive.

However, the petrol engine will ultimately still be capable of towing your caravan, and as you've identified that you'll only be towing occasionally (and presumably for mostly short or short-ish distances) is it really such a problem if the engine has to work a bit harder and use a bit more fuel? I agree with Icaru5, if you like the higher spec then you should treat yourself and enjoy :)
 

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