When choosing a car for the winter months, the last thing you might consider is a sports car.
But with many performance cars now coming with all-wheel-drive systems to help provide greater traction, these models could be more useful in bad weather than you expect.
Granted, they’re not going to be getting you through snowdrifts – but they can be quite capable in icy or wet conditions, making them well-suited to the UK’s winter.
So if you fancy a winter car that’s a bit more fun, here are 5 great choices.
Audi has always been the leader when it comes to capable sports cars thanks to the firm’s renowned ‘Quattro’ all-wheel-drive system, which was used in sports cars long before it featured in the brand’s SUVs.
But we think the best all-wheel-drive sports car is the firm’s compact TT, and it’s also one of the most affordable. The Quattro system provides impressive traction and is exceptionally sure-footed in bad weather. Just be aware that about a third of TTs you’ll see for sale will be all-wheel-drive, the rest will be front-wheel-drive – so make sure it’s definitely a Quattro before buying it for this reason.
Jaguar is renowned for its sports cars, and this British manufacturer wowed the world when it launched its glamorous F-Type in 2014 – available as both a coupe and convertible.
A year later Jaguar would expand the model’s appeal by introducing a new all-wheel-drive version (badged AWD at the rear). You can choose AWD on both the 375bhp 3.0-litre V6S (discontinued as part of the 2020 update) or the monstrous 542bhp 5.0-litre V8 model, the latter being able to accelerate from 0-60mph in just four seconds. Just be aware that only around a quarter of F-Types for sale will be all-wheel-drive models, and will be a better option then the rear-wheel-drive model over winter.
Nissan’s flagship GT-R takes things up another level compared to many on this list as it’s really more of a supercar than it is a sports car. With its 3.8-litre V6 under its bonnet, the GT-R produces a mighty 473bhp – allowing it to sprint to 60mph (where permitting) in just 3.5 seconds. Today, a new GT-R, with the same engine but tuned, will add another 100bhp to that.
And thanks to a brilliant all-wheel-drive system, the GT-R could be a surprisingly capable winter option, offering everyday fun with added security if the conditions aren’t ideal. Just be aware that even a used GT-R is still quite a pricey thing (models typically start from around £40,000 for a tidy early 2009 car) and you really want to get a car of this magnitude mechanically inspected before buying, as it could prove pricey if something goes wrong.
Mercedes was quite slow to utilise all-wheel-drive in its performance cars, but joined the action in 2016 with its AMG C43. Sitting between standard models and the incredibly powerful C63 variants, the C43 comes equipped with the brand’s ‘4Matic’ traction system. While it still has a bias to the rear wheels, it’s able to provide traction to the front axle as well to maximise grip in poor conditions.
Powering the C43 is a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, which serves up 362 bhp and can sprint to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds. You’re also treated to a high-quality interior and a surprising amount of space, regardless of which bodystyle you choose – this sporty Mercedes being available as a coupe, convertible, saloon or estate car. With used 3-year-old examples from around £27,000, they’re available at less than half the price of the new car, too.
Porsche is another manufacturer that was early to introduce all-wheel-drive to its sports cars, and again, long before it started producing SUVs. It was in 1988 when Porsche introduced the 911 Carrera 4, which was able to deliver power to all 4 wheels to help with traction – not least in bad weather conditions.
In fact, there are 6 generations of Porsche 911 that you can choose from with all-wheel-drive. If you’re looking for a used example and want to know it’s got this extra ability, make sure it’s got a ‘4’ in its name or is a ‘Turbo’. A 996-generation can be picked up from less than £15,000 for a high-mileage example, or around £23,000 if you fancy a more modern 997-generation. As with any car of this performance, make sure it’s always been serviced regularly, and get it inspected before buying.