We’re so used to seeing caravans and trailers hitched behind bakkies, but SUVs and MPVs are viable options too.
Bigger is better
2014 NISSAN PATHFINDER 2.5DCI You need something bulky enough to feel substantial in front of a big caravan, says Benji Koorts from Pretoria.
I used to tow my 2003 Sprite Swing with a 2009 Nissan X-Trail 2.0 petrol for about six years, but its physical size and that of the engine always felt a little too small for the caravan. So, after looking around a bit for a replacement and even looking at Ford’s 2.2 Ranger double cab, I settled on a used Nissan Pathfinder for R299 000, a year ago. My requirements for a towing vehicle are simple. It needs to have enough power and weight to tow comfortably. The Pathfinder has it all in abundance, with 140 kW and 450 Nm of torque, and it tips the scales at around 2t so the Sprint doesn’t shove it about in crosswinds. It annoys me that manufacturers are putting more and more smallcapacity diesel engines in cars and then marketing them as towing vehicles, when that’s just not the case. I generally tow at a reasonable 110 km/h, but I sometimes catch myself at around 120 km/h and the Pathfinder is quite a capable towing vehicle at this speed. When the Sprite’s not hitched to the standard tow bar the Nissan averages around 8 ℓ/100 km, and that figure goes up to around 9 ℓ/100 km during towing. I’m very fond of TO Strand Holiday Resort, but my wife thinks I’m in denial and that I’m actually a closet Scottburgh Caravan Park supporter. Anyway, they’re both on the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal coast, and have all the attractions you could expect.
2012 VOLKSWAGEN CADDY 2.0 TDI DSG All you need for towing is a turbodiesel engine and dual-clutch transmission. Just ask Johan Peens from Modimolle, who hooks his caravan up to a Volkswagen Caddy.
I’ve been driving this combination for four years now. After purchasing this Volkswagen Caddy 2.0 TDI off the showroom floor for R308 000 in 2012 (with Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control thrown into the deal as well), we bought a brand-new Sprite Sprint in 2014 for R136 000. There’s no stabiliser needed for the combination, because the Sprite stays put behind the Caddy and doesn’t sway. I keep the towing speed to a safe 100 km/h. The combination of this engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission is particularly suitable for towing because when towing, the fuel consumption rarely exceeds 11 ℓ/100 km. When not towing, the Caddy sips diesel at an average of 6,8 ℓ/100 km. The Caddy is very spacious, seating seven adults in comfort. The third row of seats can also easily be removed to provide more space for luggage. Driving this vehicle is effortless because the DSG does so much for you. For example, when towing downhill the transmission automatically holds the third gear and engine-brakes the combination. We’re especially fond of visiting ATKV Eiland Spa because it’s really not that far from home – just over 300 km. The weather is always pleasant because it’s warm there in winter, and the resort’s facilities are maintained to the highest standard.