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.
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?
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!
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