It’s winter, it’s snowed, and the UK’s 4×4 owners are all feeling smug and congratulating themselves on their wise choice of car — after all, they’ve been able to keep going, haven’t they?
What obviously hasn’t occurred to them is that in parts of Europe where snow and ice are a matter of routine for many months of the year, the majority of drivers don’t have 4x4s and don’t get stuck in the snow. What’s more, plenty of British 4×4 drivers do get stuck in snow and ice.
So what’s the secret?
Winter tyres are the near-magical solution that allow regular cars to enjoy decent levels of grip on roads covered with ice and snow. In many European countries they are a legal requirement and in others, like Norway, they are standard practice, because the alternative would be sheer recklessness. Four-wheel drive isn’t an alternative, because while it might help under acceleration, it doesn’t make any difference under braking or cornering — when many accidents happen.
This Autocar video makes the case far more conclusively than I could — just check out the braking test:
A set of winter tyres is far cheaper than the extra purchase and running costs of a 4×4. What are you waiting for?
If you don’t fancy switching tyres twice a year, then consider a set of all-season tyres — I use them, and I have no complaints in summer or winter — a great compromise unless you are driving a high-performance car.