Q. I want to buy a 14/15-plate automatic Vauxhall Astra to pull a caravan with a maximum laden weight of 1,172kg. At 115bhp, does the 1.6-litre petrol engine have enough pulling power? MB, London
A. Engine torque is a much better indicator of pulling power than bhp. A diesel engine — or turbocharged petrol engine — has lots of torque, which is what you need for towing, as all the power is available low in the rev range and it pulls strongly at low engine speed.
The 1.6-litre petrol Astra produces 114 lb ft of torque and the maximum towing weight is 1,250kg. It will cope with your caravan but will be working hard. The 1.4-litre petrol turbo would be better, with 147 lb ft of torque, but there’s no auto. The 2.0-litre diesel costs more but manages a massive 258 lb ft and tows up to 1,400kg.
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