Skoda Octavia 2.0TDI CR vRS Estate 5d - Tickin' that towing box

  • We tick the tow bar preparation box when ordering our Octavia
  • Removable tow bar proves perfect for those only towing occasionally
  • Not cheap, but perfectly integrated into the car and an option worth adding

Tow bar preparation; a box you tick on the order form and forget all about. It’s easy to think that means you’re on your way to enjoying a life of camping in caravans, sailing in speedboats and gliding, errr, gliders behind you. Basically it’s a box to give you the lifestyle the brochure tries so hard to sell you. 

But that’s, literally, only half the story. In Skoda’s case a mark in that £170 box simply adds the necessary wiring and hardware to allow you to mount a towbar and follow your outdoor dreams. Which means another £527 including fitting.

Octavia vRS towbar

Not a cheap exercise, but still one that makes sense for a diesel estate – even a hot vRS edition like ours. Now I wasn’t planning on touring with a caravan, cavorting with a canoe or even skiing with a snowboard, but I did want to drive to, and around Sweden, with a pair of mountain bikes on board.

With a boot full of camping equipment and booze (trust me if you’ve ever paid for wine in a Stockholm restaurant before you’d do the same) bike carrying options were limited. Roof bars and up-turned frames on the roof would have worked, but the height of this setup imposes so many restrictions – the tunnel crossing, underground car parks and just unknown EU roads with low bridges and structures – it wasn’t the most suitable solution for our trip.

Octavia vRS towbar

And as I already owned an excellent Thule tow-bar mounted carrier it was obvious which route we were going to take. So a removable ball was fitted.

Installing literally takes seconds.

Removing the plastic cover for the main mechanical socket, you simply slip the towbar into place and lock it in with a twist of the key, push of a lever and pop of a pin on the side. Conveniently the electrical connection cantilevers out of the bumper and into place right next to it. Like the best Haynes manual, removal is simply the reverse of fitting.

Octavia tow bar removed

And that’s half the beauty of the setup; removing it restores the car’s clean lines and unless you’ve got your face under the bumper you wouldn’t know the Octavia was even set-up for towing anything. Gone are the ugly bumper cutouts and dangling electrical sockets that plagued previous generations of towcars.

When it’s not in use it even has a dedicated storage area in the spare wheel well, so there’s no need to find somewhere at home to keep it or to have it rattling round the boot on every corner.

Octavia vRS with no tow bar

That’s not the end of the Octavia’s towing tricks either, as the vRS knows when it has something attached to its towball and adapts accordingly. The rear parking sensors, which would go beserk if it didn’t know something was attached permanently to the car’s tail, switch themselves off and instead the display screen pictures a trailer and requests you check surroundings properly.

A gentle nudge of the indicator stalk, normally resulting in three-flashes of the amber bulbs, now means they flash for longer – allowing for your trailer or whatever else is coming along behind you to complete their manoeuvre before finishing your signalling.

removable tow bar on Octavia vRS

All this vehicle integration is incredibly clever, as the firm’s Simply Clever tagline might suggest, and we can’t help but feel impressed with the complete package. There are other aftermarket options out there, which are cheaper, but they’re not going to work as well as this Skoda kit.

So while it’s a lot of cash, after exercising the setup over 3,500 miles across Europe, in a spread of conditions and at various speeds, we reckon it’s money well spent. If you’re ordering your Octavia now, we’d urge you to tick that box.

 

Mileage: 7,841 miles                         Economy: 44.3mpg