Best small tow cars

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
Jun 10, 2022

Do you enjoy the odd caravan holiday? Or are you regularly taking trailer-loads of waste to the tip? You might think your only option is to buy a huge four-wheel-drive SUV. Well, if you hate the idea of driving a big car, there are plenty of smaller cars around that are easier to drive and still very capable of towing heavy loads.

With the most advanced modern-day engines, even relatively compact hatchbacks pack enough punch to tow small caravans and loaded trailers. It's always worth making sure the car you're looking at is strong enough to handle the weight of whatever you're planning to tow, but you'll likely be able to find something of a reasonable size that's up to the task.

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, a car's 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's unbraked, your car’s limit will be significantly lower.

An important thing to note is a car’s towing capacity can change depending on the variant of a particular model. Not all versions of a Volkswagen Golf, for example, come with the headline figure manufacturers claim, so again, it's worth double-checking the exact car you're looking at is up to the job. 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. Generally speaking, a diesel is going to prove the most effective for towing as it offers much more low-end power to get the additional weight moving.

Best small cars for towing

1. Volkswagen Golf

Used deals from £7,990
Monthly finance from £252*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,258mm

The Volkswagen Golf is perhaps the definitive practical hatchback to buy if you're looking for minimal fuss and upmarket quality. It also happens to be a cracking small car for towing.

With a braked towing capacity of up to 1,800kg, it is important to make sure you are looking at the right model, as not every Golf will be able to achieve that. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the engine the more hauling capacity, but diesel models will be especially well-suited to the task of towing thanks to their increased torque and therefore more potent power delivery.

If you don’t want a diesel, though, 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.


2. Jeep Renegade

Used deals from £9,490
Monthly finance from £0*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,236mm

The Jeep Renegade is smaller and more affordable than any other Jeep we've seen before in the UK, that's also helped to make it one of the most popular. 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.


3. Honda HR-V

Used deals from £10,600
Monthly finance from £0*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,294mm

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.


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.


5. Peugeot 2008

Used deals from £6,000
Monthly finance from £182*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,159mm

The Peugeot 2008 is part of the French company's impressive SUV and crossover lineup. As with most of the more recent Peugeot models on the market, the driving position isn’t to everyone’s taste thanks to that small steering wheel you look over rather than through to check your speed, etc. - 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 want 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.


6. Hyundai Kona

Used deals from £13,849
Monthly finance from £231*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,180mm

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.


7. Nissan Juke

Used deals from £6,500
Monthly finance from £182*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,135mm

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, but you can choose between petrol or diesel engines as well as a manual or CVT automatic transmission.


8. Seat Arona

Used deals from £10,800
Monthly finance from £317*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,138mm

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.

Of the engines on offer, only the lowest powered petrol (known as the 1.0 TSI 95) 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.


9. Mazda CX-3

Used deals from £10,239
Monthly finance from £0*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,275mm

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.


10. DS 3 Crossback

Used deals from £15,239
Monthly finance from £0*
Maximum braked towing capacity
Length 4,118mm

The DS 3 Crossback finishes off our small cars with a 1,200kg towing capacity club and it does so in style. While its exterior styling is nothing extraordinary, the interior is like nothing else on the market, save for its sibling, 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 an upmarket brand, as that is what they are pitched and priced as. They share much of their underpinnings with other Peugeot/Citroen cars but are wrapped in a much more luxurious package. On this list though, its classy cabin does enough to help it stand out.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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