Five unexpected tow cars (that aren't massive double-cab utes)
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Towing stuff is part of New Zealand motoring culture. It's part of our do-anything, go anywhere motoring ethos.
But partly due to our other related obsession, double-cab utes, it's natural to think that you need a light-commercial vehicle that can haul upwards of three tonnes, or a hard-core ladder-chassis SUV, to even think about using that towbar.
Not true, of course. Enjoying the (hopefully) long hot summer ahead could just as easily involve towing a light watercraft, a trailer full of kayaks or a small caravan.
You might be surprised at what many "normal" cars can tow. Here are five of our favourites.
We're fans of the Ford Focus: it's the reigning AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year, after all.
It's a small family hatchback, but you'll notice it's tow-modelling a Sea Doo in the pictures above. That's the $23,199 Sea Doo GTX by the way, part of the "touring" range with Bluetooth audio, extra cargo space and a large swim platform. That's some holiday fun right there.
The Focus is the SUV-style Active model, but actually any Focus hatch will tow 1200kg braked, which puts it in the frame for all kinds of hauling duties. It's surprising what an ordinary family hatchback can and will do.
A small sedan is about as far away from the traditional image of a Kiwi summer tow car as you can get. But the 3 is another one of those compact, mainstream models that becomes surprisingly useful when you fit a towbar.
All Mazda3 sedan models from the 2.0l GSX to the higher-powered 2.5 models can tow 1200kg braked.
We've chosen the sedan just to make a point (call it "surprise value" if you like), but of course that tow rating applies equally to the hatchback - not to mention the closely rated but more SUV-style CX-30.
Suzuki S-Cross SX4
The Suzuki S-Cross is a low-key station-wagon-cum-crossover with front-drive and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) in its entry-level versions (although an AWD model is also available).
The platform is shared with the Vitara, which might help explain a pretty decent towing capacity of 1200kg for the little five-door. Not bad for a car that starts at under $30k.
Toyota Yaris Cross
We love the all-new Yaris hatchback: it's a beaut blend of small-car smarts with high technology, especially the teeny tiny three-cylinder powerplant.
Toyota has also catered to 2021 tastes with the new model and launched an SUV-style model called Yaris Cross, with unique styling and some extra ride height. Same tech underneath, though. Definitely still just a baby SUV.
But the company has taken the time to bulk up the pint-sized Yaris and give it some useful towing capacity. While the hatch model remains unrated for towing, the Cross can haul 1250kg. Just note that applies only to the conventional petrol versions: as is often the case with hybrids, the petrol-electric versions are limited to 400kg.
That lack of towing ability from electrified vehicles has long been a thing - especially pure-electric, or Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). But that's changing.
Audi has made much of the e-tron's ability to tow 1800kg. Indeed, prior to launch a disguised prototype even did the rounds towing a concept car on a trailer.
Other BEV makers are also making great strides. Tesla's Model X SUV can tow an impressive 2250kg and while the Model 3 sedan isn't currently rated in NZ (it's the country's best-selling BEV), in Europe Tesla has just made a tow pack available that allows it to haul 910kg. So it's coming.
It's true that towing will severely deplete a BEV's range, but that's no different to the increased fuel consumption of an internal combustion car (albeit something you have to be more mindful of, given charging locations and times).