Best new small cars for towing

Want to tow but don’t want the burden of a large car? Then you need one of the best new small cars for towing

James Wilson
Jul 9, 2019

There comes a point in many motorists’ journey down the highway of life when they need to attach something to the back of their car and tow it off into the sunset. Traditionally, this would be done with a large and fuel hungry SUV, but if you don’t want such a burden it begs the question: which are the best new small cars for towing?

Whether you have a trailer to take all your hedge trimmings to the tip, a caravan for holidays far far away or even a boat to move to a new (and hopefully warmer) coastal destination, you need a car which is up to the task of towing your load with competence.

Fortunately, modern-day engine technology means that even the smallest cars pack enough punch to tow a decent load. These modest vehicles forego massive square footage but offer the kind of running costs and dimensions you can live with every day.

All the cars on this list are less than 4.3 metres (or 4,300mm) in length and have a maximum braked towing capacity of at least 1,200kg.

For those than don’t know, maximum braked towing capacity is the maximum weight of the item you can tow provided it has its own brakes. If you are considering towing something that is unbraked, your car’s limit will be significantly lower.

An important thing to note is a car’s towing capacity can change easily, so not all versions of the same car come with the headline figure manufacturers claim. The size and fuel type of an engine can have a major impact on a car’s maximum towing capacity, but so too can the type of gearbox it uses.

Coming top of the list for best new small cars for towing is the Volkswagen Golf, which regardless of towing capacity is a fantastic car. Coming in behind the Golf are a range of small SUVs and crossovers, which are available as petrols, diesels, automatics and manuals.

The best new small cars for towing

1) Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf front

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,800kg
Length 4,258mm

Used Volkswagen Golf deals from £7,600
Finance from £123 per month

The Volkswagen Golf has been one of the go-to cars for those who want a reliable well-built vehicle to get them from A to B in comfort with minimal fuss. It also happens to be a cracking small car for towing.

The scope of towing capacities VW quotes ranges goes up to 1,800kg, so it is important to make sure you are looking at the right model. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the engine the more hauling capacity, with diesel models being especially suited to the task of towing.

If you don’t want a diesel, the 2.0-litre petrol GTI models will cope with 1,800kg, while you can expect the smaller TSI petrol engines to be able to tow between 1,300kg and 1,500kg.
Volkswagen Golf buying guide


2) Jeep Renegade

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,500kg
Length 4,236mm

Used Jeep Renegade deals from £8,990
Finance from £148 per month

The Renegade is smaller, more affordable and more desirable to UK motorists than any Jeep before it. That is not to say the Renegade has lost touch with its heritage though, as it still offers the kind of capabilities people have come to expect from a Jeep.

Part of which is the impressive 1,500kg maximum towing capacity, which, when combined with its equally impressive off-road abilities makes a car perfect for those who like taking their caravan off the beaten track. If you want the maximum dragging ability, you will have to go for a diesel in either front or four-wheel drive with a manual or automatic gearbox.
Jeep Renegade buying guide

3) Honda HR-V

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,500kg
Length 4,294mm

Used Honda HR-V deals from £9,995
Finance from £165 per month

Honda doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. It makes a healthy mixture of reliable everyday cars and bonkers performance cars, yet many motorists don’t even know the names of the models it currently manufactures. If you have heard of the HR-V, great. If not, it is a practical, economical and comfy way of getting around, plus it offers a decent towing capacity.

Making sure you get the right model for your desired towing capacity is relatively easy as there are only two possibilities: 1,000kg or 1,400kg. The latter of the two is only available on the turbo petrol and diesel models. The lower limit comes with the non-turbo petrols.
Honda HR-V buying guide

4) Suzuki Jimny

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,300kg
Length 3,675mm

Even though all the cars on this list are small, the Suzuki Jimny is by far the smallest, yet it still manages to offer one of the best towing capacities – 1,300kg to be precise. There is only one engine – a 1.5-litre petrol – but you do get the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox.

An impressive towing capacity isn’t the only thing that helps the Jimny stand out, as its styling is like no other new car on sale, albeit with the aerodynamic properties of a brick. Inside there are only four seats and boot space is on the small side, but if you can cope with those, the Jimny is a great option.
Suzuki Jimny buying guide

5) Peugeot 2008

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,270kg
Length 4,159mm

Used Peugeot 2008 deals from £5,699
Finance from £106 per month

The 2008 is part of Peugeot’s impressive SUV and crossover lineup. As with most new Peugeots, the driving position isn’t to everyone’s taste (it is something you will need to try before you buy) but the rest of the interior is brilliant.

For maximum towing ability you are going to want the automatic 1.5-litre diesel, as it boasts a braked towing capacity of 1,270kg. If you are wanting to steer clear of diesel though, the 1.2-litre PureTech petrol units can offer up to 1,250kg of towing capacity, providing you opt for the 110hp or 130hp variants rather than the lower powered 82hp engine.
Peugeot 2008 buying guide

6) Hyundai Kona

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,270kg
Length 4,180mm

Used Hyundai Kona deals from £11,995
Finance from £170 per month

The battery-powered Hyundai Kona (aptly named the Kona Electric) somewhat overshadows the internal combustion Kona models thanks to its impressive electric range and relatively affordable price tag. However, one area the petrol versions surpass their electrified counterparts is in towing capacity.

Opt for the more powerful 1.6-litre petrol (and mandatory automatic gearbox) and you’ll be able to tow 1,250kgs. If you want a manual, your only option is the smaller 1.0-litre petrol, but even then you get a towing capacity of 1,200kg.
Hyundai Kona buying guide


7) Nissan Juke

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,250kg
Length 4,135mm

Used Nissan Juke deals from £6,699
Finance from £113 per month

The Nissan Juke is one of the original modern-day mini crossovers. The Juke’s success is partly due to the fact it offers a great all-round package, including an impressive towing capacity of 1,250kg.

There is no option of four-wheel drive with new Nissan Jukes, but you can choose between petrol or diesel engines as well as a manual or CVT automatic transmission.
Nissan Juke buying guide

8) Seat Arona

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,200kg
Length 4,138mm

Used Seat Arona deals from £13,690
Finance from £195 per month

The Seat Arona kicks off the 1,200kg towing capacity club which finishes off our list. While the two cars below offer similar towing capabilities, they are very much different positions for motorists.

The Arona uses the same mechanicals as the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza, which is good news as it means it offers the same composed driving experience as its stablemates.

Out of the engines on offer, it is only the lowest powered petrol (known as the 1.0 TSI 95) which falls short of the maximum towing capacity. The rest of the range offers the full 1,200kg. There are diesel and petrol options as well as manual and automatic gearboxes.
Seat Arona buying guide


9) Mazda CX-3

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,200kg
Length 4,275mm

Used Mazda CX-3 deals from £10,000
Finance from £147 per month

The next new small car ideally suited to towing is the Mazda CX-3. It differs from the Seat above because on top of the strong pulling performance and good build quality, it is good fun to drive as well.

Mazda keeps things simple with its range as all derivatives of the CX-3 come with the same braked towing capacity. That is not to say there isn’t any choice of engines and gearboxes, oh no. Not only are there automatic and manual gearboxes on offer, but there is the option of petrol or diesel and two or four-wheel drive. Consider the fact the CX-3 comes with good-levels of kit as standard and you can see why they are a popular choice.
Mazda CX-3 buying guide

10) DS 3 Crossback

Maximum braked towing capacity 1,200kg
Length 4,118mm

The DS 3 Crossback finishes off our 1,200kg towing capacity club and it does so in style. The outside may not be too much to write home about, but the interior is like nothing else on the market, save for the DS 7 Crossback. All models are front wheel drive, but there is the option of diesel or petrol engines as well as an automatic or manual gearbox.

Perhaps the biggest negative for the DS is whether or not you see it as a premium brand, as that is what they are pitched and priced as. They share much of their underpinnings with other Peugeot/Citroen cars but wrapped in a much more upmarket package. On this list though, its classy cabin does enough to help it stand out.
DS 3 Crossback buying guide



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