Second hand tow car (10 meter sailplane trailer up to 1200kg)

Apr 26, 2020
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I've been reading through the tow car awards pages and reviews for a while now, as I'm in the market for a second hand tow car to pull my sailplane trailer.
I currently drive a company owned Peugeot 308 SW from 2016 with the 1.6 blueHDI 120 horsepower and it's doing great. Now I'm going to switch jobs and I will have to buy my own car again, and I'm having difficulty choosing (too much choice!)

I definitely want an estate car and I'm looking at 6 years or younger, and right now, these are my options:
- BMW 316d/318d touring
- Audi A4
- Peugeot 508 SW
- Mazda 3 (review at TowCarAwards is great for towing!)
- Mercedes C class (c180)
- DS 5

What are your experiences with these cars or would you recommend one over the other? All share about the same price. The Mazda 3 I'm looking at is the 2.2 diesel automatic. Thank you!
 
May 7, 2012
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As a confirmed Mazda user I can vouch for the quality and reliability of the marque. It is very light though for that trailer, although that engine should have no problem. The MX3 should work well otherwise.
None of the cars should have any problem as tow cars, apart from possibly the weight of the trailer being a problem if the exact model chosen is very light.
Provided the weights work out, I would go with whatever feels best for you, as these things are very personal.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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As a confirmed Mazda user I can vouch for the quality and reliability of the marque. It is very light though for that trailer, although that engine should have no problem. The MX3 should work well otherwise.
None of the cars should have any problem as tow cars, apart from possibly the weight of the trailer being a problem if the exact model chosen is very light.
Provided the weights work out, I would go with whatever feels best for you, as these things are very personal.
We don't know the weight of the trailer!, Sailplanes by their very nature tend to be fairly light, so the trailer whilst long will be most likely be relatively light.

Also the trailer will be nowhere near as boxy as a caravan, so the aerodynamics and center of gravity will be better than a caravan's, so the caravan industries load ratio advice is not relevant in this case.

Essentially it should be fine to use any tow vehicle provided the weight of the trailer is within the cars rated towing specification, but as always it is better to have the heaviest tow vehicle relative to the trailer.
 
Apr 26, 2020
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We don't know the weight of the trailer!, Sailplanes by their very nature tend to be fairly light, so the trailer whilst long will be most likely be relatively light.

Also the trailer will be nowhere near as boxy as a caravan, so the aerodynamics and center of gravity will be better than a caravan's, so the caravan industries load ratio advice is not relevant in this case.

Essentially it should be fine to use any tow vehicle provided the weight of the trailer is within the cars rated towing specification, but as always it is better to have the heaviest tow vehicle relative to the trailer.
My own trailer is 850kg including glider, if I were to tow a club member, they go up to 1200kg for double seaters.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I've been reading through the tow car awards pages and reviews for a while now, as I'm in the market for a second hand tow car to pull my sailplane trailer.
I currently drive a company owned Peugeot 308 SW from 2016 with the 1.6 blueHDI 120 horsepower and it's doing great. Now I'm going to switch jobs and I will have to buy my own car again, and I'm having difficulty choosing (too much choice!)

I definitely want an estate car and I'm looking at 6 years or younger, and right now, these are my options:
- BMW 316d/318d touring
- Audi A4
- Peugeot 508 SW
- Mazda 3 (review at TowCarAwards is great for towing!)
- Mercedes C class (c180)
- DS 5

What are your experiences with these cars or would you recommend one over the other? All share about the same price. The Mazda 3 I'm looking at is the 2.2 diesel automatic. Thank you!


At 1200kg trailer weight there are many tow cars that would be suitable as far as their makers specified towing limit is concerned. Other things like solo drive, luggage capacity etc, safety and reliability, full size spare wheel, would then start enter my equation. As said above some of the things that make a good caravan towcar would not be so critical in your case.

Pity you need to tow your friends two seater glider as a Kia Stinger would be just the job. But it’s tow weight is only 1000kg but at 350 bhp plus and rear wheel drive it would launch the glider no problem. 😂
 
Apr 26, 2020
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At 1200kg trailer weight there are many tow cars that would be suitable as far as their makers specified towing limit is concerned. Other things like solo drive, luggage capacity etc, safety and reliability, full size spare wheel, would then start enter my equation. As said above some of the things that make a good caravan towcar would not be so critical in your case.

Pity you need to tow your friends two seater glider as a Kia Stinger would be just the job. But it’s tow weight is only 1000kg but at 350 bhp plus and rear wheel drive it would launch the glider no problem. 😂
Well honestly, I like all of them and I have a hard time picking one, as they are all fun to drive, I rarely drive with more than 2 people or lots of luggage. I don't plan on having kids anytime soon and the only requirement I want is cruise control, which they all have as standard. Only plus for the Mazda 3 is that it is the automatic, which is very easy.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I think you will find that when it comes to towing caravans, automatics are rapidly becoming the most favoured transmission. Even some of the most desirable super cars are only available with auto's these days. I think in your case either should be fine.

Also I think it wold be fair to say that there are very few absolutely dire modern cars, so bearing in mind the maximum weight you want to tow is within the cars specifications, choose the car you would most want to drive solo, after all when towing you can't and shouldn't exploit the finer points of handling and speed.
 
May 7, 2012
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This is really a choice of what suits you. The Audi and BMW are more performance driven and can be expensive for parts work and insurance but more fun to drive.
The Mazda and Merc are probably more solid and reliable with the Merc being a bit more expensive to run but having a higher status.
If you are looking at the Audi I would not rule out the equivalent VW, Skoda and Seat models as a cheaper alternative, but with the same driveline but less status.
The Puegeot is solid, but the DS more stylish and fu to drive, and both should be reasonably cheap to run. As a family though we do seem to have had more trouble with French cars, particularly the electrics, which puts us off.
That's my thoughts on them, all I can say is that the choice depends entirely on where your priorities lie.
 
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