Car Choice: It all depends on the size of your caravan...

David Midwinter is 37 years old, and gets straight to the point. He is looking for a diesel car with a big enough engine to pull a caravan, but it must also have a big boot, low road tax, and reasonably low insurance. His family consists of two adults and a three-year-old child. Although there is no budget mentioned, we will go for value.

A car for the head

Everything depends on the size of the caravan. The Caravan Club of Great Britain voted the Skoda Fabia Elegance 1.6 TDi as its car of the year in the under-£16,000 class. It is rated to tow a caravan that weighs 1,036kg. This is a small car, but it is spacious and very capable. Running costs are low, and in particular the insurance is very reasonable, and should not be higher than Group Four. As for the emissions, this engine is rated at 109g/km and that means a Road Fund Licence of just £20. The fuel consumption is an excellent 60mpg plus, depending on the output of the engine, as there is a 90 or 105 version. On the road the Fabia is refined and smooth and there is plenty of space for two adults and a child, plus luggage. The build quality is uniformly excellent, so it feels very solid and agreeable – well capable of tugging a caravan around.

A car for the heart

If David wants value then he should also consider a used car. A Volkswagen Golf 1.9TDi should have the right blend of practicality and frugality. It's always hard to go wrong with a Golf (right). Although they are not as reliable or well built as they were 20 years ago, matters have improved and a model from 2006 would be a very good choice as a practical workhorse. The Golf has a decent interior with quite a big boot, and if David went for the three-door he would find that the rear seats slide so that even more luggage space can be created. The maximum towing weight is a generous 1,400kg, which should mean that all but the very largest caravans would be fine. Running costs are pretty good. The 1.9 TDi will return a decent 53.3mpg officially and it is in Group Six for insurance. The CO2 emissions are 132g/km and that puts the Road Fund Licence at £110. Rather than buy new, David will be able to get this car on the used market. A 2007 example from a dealer, with around 67,000 miles on the clock, will cost between £5,000 and £7,000.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.

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