Top 10 best and worst cars in the snow


Dan Trent writes:

Getting accustomed to the apparent return to ‘proper’ winters? Well, if snow like we’ve been having once again becomes a regular occurrence it might be worth considering winter-worthiness in your next purchase. Based on nothing more than arbitrary observation here are 10 cars you might want on your shortlist. And 10 to avoid.

Top 10 best cars for the snow:

1. Panda 4×4
As capable, if not more so, in the snow as any monster truck SUV but without any of the smug pretentiousness.
2. Subaru Forester (previous version)
Defiantly style-free Subaru smacks of the dependable, tough as old boots usefulness you really need when all around you are slithering into the gutter. Cheap to buy, sensibly sized and brilliant.

3. Mitsubishi Evo (any type)

Just about gets the nod over the Impreza thanks to ability to choose a more hoon-worthy setting on the Super All Wheel Control 4WD system. Confusingly this turns out to be ‘Tarmac’ rather than the ‘Snow’ setting you might assume.

4. Porsche 911 C4
The older the better – a 964-era Carrera 4 probably the best on relatively skinny tyres. Though having said that, old school two-wheel drive 911s have been rallied to great success in the snow, the rear-engined configuration good for traction. And testing reflexes if you get too cocky.
5. Land Rover Discovery, Toyota Land Cruiser, etc
A ‘proper’ 4×4. Enough said. Expect to be kept busy by people begging to be towed out though.

6. Smart ForTwo
Surprisingly able, thanks to the engine, gearbox and other heavy components being between the driven rear wheels. Surprisingly fun, also, if you disable the ESP…
7. Skoda Octavia Scout
Like the old Forester: unpretentious, usefully 4WD but still just a normal car the rest of the time.
8. Mini
Pictures of old-school Mini Coopers sideways between 6ft banks of snow on the Monte Carlo rally back in the day tell you all you need to know about the Mini’s ability in the snow. Modern ones aren’t bad either.

9. Old Saabs

Well, they’re Swedish and used to go well in rallies. They must be good in the snow, right?
10. Toyota iQ
Apparently really good in the snow, thanks in no small part to the skinny tyres. Possibly easy to lose in a drift if you chose a trendy white one though.

Top 10 worst cars for the snow:

1. BMW 1 Series
2. BMW 3 Series
3. BMW 5 Series

4. BMW 7 Series

Getting the idea yet? Same goes for Mercs, Jags and other powerful rear-driven saloons on fat tyres. Forget. It.
5. Audi Q7
Four-wheel drive useless when it comes to slowing down over two-tonnes of Audi fuelled on a heady mix of inertia and denial. Using the car in front as your crumple zone because you’re in a rush to get to Waitrose just isn’t on. See also, BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover Sport, etc…

6. Hot hatches
Big wheels with fat tyres on? Hair-trigger throttle? Prone to encouraging over excitement? Propensity to exit stage left, backwards through a hedge, only exacerbated by snow and owners’ misplaced belief in ability to use handbrake to change direction.

7. Mazda MX-5
Skiddy, rear-driven chassis huge fun most of the time. Hopeless in the snow though. You WILL spin.
8. Your pride and joy
Whatever it might be, given the potential for crunched bodywork, self inflicted or at the hands of another skidding motorist, you’re not going to want to drive it in this weather.
9. Tesla Roadster
Never mind the instant torque will overwhelm what little traction you might have had – have you seen how long the battery on your mobile lasts in the cold?

10. Faux-by-fauxs
Certain cheaper versions of the Honda CR-V, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai and others look like 4x4s but only have front-wheel drive. A sensible compromise most of the time. But in the snow everyone will point and laugh as you get stuck in your ‘4×4’.

So, are we right? Let us know your own experiences via the comment link below!

Dan

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21 Responses to Top 10 best and worst cars in the snow

  1. Ben says:

    every car i saw abandonned the other day was a BMW, with one jag, merc\’s arent TOO bad, but when you get into S class\’s they are. mine got stuck up the shop in relatively light snow.

  2. Amit says:

    Fully agree with you! Surprised about the EVO beating the Scooby. Mercedes CLK 220CDi Sport (i.e. with AMG wheels) – Wide tyres and RWD are really crap in the snow (fully agree with you there!)…nearly got stuck trying to get over a small 1/2 width speed bump on a not too steep hill before X-mas – took a v. gentle right foot, auto in \’C\’ and a very long 3-4 mins later I was over!! Friend has the new E Coupe and it\’s the same. However, he is happly getting around in a borrowed Smart now!

  3. Aaron says:

    My mates Vauxhall Corsa is rubbish in the snow. Not surprising being a FWD supermini…but I was in this Corsa only today as we were going to college. Going up a hill the car just stopped dead. He then tried selecting second gear and not using too much throttle but in the end the car just slid backwards down the hill. In the end he gave up, turned round and went home and got a train instead.

  4. sean says:

    i have a bmw e46 3 series. it is by far the most sexy car i,ve ever had. however it is the worst car by far i,ve ever drivin in snow it is useless even when i hit the traction button it is dreadfull its no fun walkin to work when the snow comes and seeing all the other cars on the car park even in a light covering of snow hills seem like mountains !!!!!!!

  5. ian says:

    All cars are perfectly ok in snow, all they need are the correct tyres. I\’m working in Finland where the roads are covered in snow for about three months of the year. The cars the Finns drive are as varied as they are in the UK with one exception, hardly anyone has a 4×4. Compulsory winter tyres keeps the traffic flowing at the same rate as in summer. And this does not mean too much extra expense, they buy are spare set of steel wheels and fit snow tyres to them and then swap the wheels over in winter. Most people should be able to change all four wheels by themselves in under an hour.It is also law to have winter tyres in Germany, Belgium, France etc, etc. If we had the same law we would be spared the chaos everytime we get a cold snap, with the rest of Europe laughing their socks off at us.

  6. alan says:

    i drive a c r v honda and have had no problems with the snow, i just get in and start the engine, drive it sensibly and it will go anywhere i want it to

  7. James says:

    My Nissan Navara Loves the snow. I haven\’t had any problems with it and can also be a bit fun when no cars are around and put my foot down just a little more going round a corner. I could of made a fortune with all the taxi\’s and cars I had to toe to the top of the street lol. It should definitely be in the top 10

  8. cara says:

    Rubish, i live in Bulgaria, but am English, the only problem in England is that ppl think because the have perelli or some othe top brand of tyre, they ar ok, well i have a tranny van, jeep grand cherohee, a little trabant and they all have winter tyres on, if you dont know, i\’m going to tell u, normal tyres below certain temps wont work the same high millage tyres are rubbish in winter, you need soft compond tyres which are designed to be soft in freezing temps, i was out in-26 2 days ago in my tranny van, snow and ice on roads, we dont get our roads salted here, stop being so soft and blamming the government, they are idiots we know this blame yourself, and go n buy winter tyres, in bulgaria from november to march its the law to have lights on and winter tyres.

  9. tony says:

    Doesn\’t matter what vehicle, old ford escort van or top 4×4 if you drive according to the vehicles potential & are sensible then snow, ice, torrential rain etc. should not be a real problem. Trouble is most people have little driving experience & are not capable to be behind the wheel under normal conditions let alone bad weather. You can tell the bad drivers, wing mirrors out of adjustment, lots of crap dangling in front of their noses distracting from driving, music so loud they can\’t hear whats around them, women in particular who sit so close to the steering wheel they can\’t turn the wheel, fog lights on blinding behind when only needed when visi is below 100 yds, Just watch for the signs & you know if you have an idiot in front or beside you so you can be prepared. The other annoying thing is auto drivers with foot resting on brake pedal so you have no warning if they are stopping…lets have refresher tests every 5 years, that would reduce congestion and car use.

  10. James says:

    hey Tony if you had to do your test, every 5 years does that include the every changing theory test as well? tests are getting more expensive every year. and how many more illegal driver will that see on our road? making it even more dangerous? by Auto do you mean automatic cars? If they are driving they use the same foot to break and go. so if there foot is on the break you would know with the red light on the back of the, that means they intend to slow down or stop, maybe if you werent tailgating behind them you wouldnt have a problem, ? lol

  11. Andy says:

    I lived in Germany for 10 years and drove an old style Corsa (Nova in UK) It had front wheel drive and skinny tyres. 2 feet of snow didnt stop me going to work at 6 am and that at any speed I wanted to

  12. Martyn says:

    I had a mid 70\’s Saab 96 V4 which I fiited with town and country tyres and it was excellent. I even did the 20 miles home through woodland and up over the Chilterns in 1 foot, sorry 300mm, of proper 1980\’s snow in better time than normal. Heated seats front wheel drive and perfect front to back weight distribution to name a few great features of the swedish bomb shell. Mind you when it was new it cost more than a Rover P6 ? Worst car to drive in snow, even in drizzle for that matter, was the Ford Capri 3 litre, wot a beast.

  13. David says:

    How about trying snow chains? Modern ones are easy to fit, , easy to carry/store, don\’t cost much more than a tank-full of petrol and will get you most places when there is snow on the ground.

  14. jonathan says:

    cant bet a vauxhall combo van. drove it all winter and never got stuck

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