121-150g/km (tax bands D-F): Volkswagen Jetta

Defending champion faces tough competition in its class

The Volkswagen Jetta was the star of last year’s event, beating all its rivals to win its category and the overall Tow Car of the Year award.

This year it faced some talented rivals in the biggest category in our shoot-out. But once again, the Jetta put in a strong showing in all our tests, and trounced the opposition.

Hitched up to a two-berth Bailey Olympus 460-2 caravan, the car stood out with its punchy 2.0-litre diesel and slick dual-clutch DSG transmission. It was relaxed and refined on the high-speed bowl, and just as impressive on the hill route.

With tight body control and lots of grip, it inspired confidence, taking corners with real gusto. The 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel felt effortlessly strong – it took the Jetta from 30-50mph in just 7.6 seconds.

This VW is fun to drive when not towing, too, plus it’s practical, with lots of leg and headroom. And the supportive seats and smart dash layout should make long journeys less of a chore.

The 510-litre boot will hold all the stuff you’re ever likely to need – if it doesn’t, the rear seatbacks split and fold for even more space.

Sport models get a USB/iPod connection, cruise control and climate control as standard, while 53.3mpg economy and road tax of £120 a year should help keep running costs down as well.

Our finalists

Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI (140) DSG Sport: £23,656Audi Q3 2.0 TDI 140 quattro manual: £27,325*Infiniti M35h GT Premium: £45,990*Lexus GS 450h V6 SE: £44,615*Mazda CX-5 2.2 175 AWD Sport Nav: £29,095Mercedes C220 CDI BlueEfficiency Exec SE: £32,075Peugeot 508 SW HDi 140 Allure: £25,885Skoda Yeti 1.2 Urban: £17,364Subaru XV 2.0D SE: £26,295*Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer 2.0 CDTi SRi S/S: £23,745

* On-the-road price without towing extras.

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