Winter is a beautiful, scenic time of the year to get out of the house and go for a drive – if you have the right car. Some are more suited to adverse weather conditions than others. But you also need to make sure your vehicle is prepared for the cold conditions. Whatever vehicle you have, one of the best things you can do to improve your safety at this time of year is to fit winter tyres.
It’s not only something to think about when you’re planning an adventure. Getting behind the wheel of a car in the face of wind, snow and ice isn’t always a choice. There are unavoidable commitments, such as commuting or visiting family to consider.
So if you’re looking to upgrade your car with winter driving or comfort in mind, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a guide for winter driving and activities and the cars best suited to the task – especially when fitted with the right tyres for the conditions.
Winding wintery roads
Scotland’s Applecross Pass is one of the many wonderful, winding roads in the UK that look even more picturesque when covered in a layer of snow. But while nice to look at, winding rural roads can be dangerous in wintry conditions. This means you need a car capable of matching performance and safety, while also being versatile enough to cope with any sudden changes in the weather when out on the road. This is where the Land Rover Discovery Sport excels.
The Discovery Sport is a tough off-roader that will appeal to winter adventurers. With its Terrain Response system, you can adjust the engine, gearbox and chassis settings to suit the conditions. This system even has a dedicated Grass/Gravel/Snow setting that will give you the traction you need when negotiating snow-covered winding roads. This is complemented by All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) in 2015 models onwards, which aims to make off-road driving easier for drivers of any skill level and allows you to make steady progress in the most difficult conditions.
Motorway driving doesn’t have to be a chore – even in the winter. Extended trips up and down the country to visit family or for work can be laborious. If you find a car that combines comfort and fuel economy, however, it can make things a lot more convenient.
The Vauxhall Astra is one of the safest bets you can make – especially in the used car market. It’s a reliable, well-sized and light option, with more than enough power under the bonnet. If you’re racking up the miles, the ecoFLEX line provides excellent fuel efficiency. Its 1.6-litre 16V diesel engine offers 85.6mpg, and low CO2 emissions of just 82g/km. Saving you money in both tax and fuel, the Astra is a sound investment for solo drivers and small families.
Why not burn off any festive overindulgence with a brisk winter walk in the hills? The Dacia Duster is an excellent budget SUV that doesn’t compromise either quality or equipment.
Dacia makes both front and 4-wheel drive cars, so you can find the used model to suit your needs at a relatively low cost. The Duster is full of safety features especially important in poor weather, including anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC).
There’s more than enough room in the back for all of your hiking gear, dogs and children too – in whichever order! You get an outstanding amount of versatility and performance from the Duster at an extremely affordable price.
Snow and ice are the biggest hazards for most drivers in winter. But the right car can significantly reduce the effect of adverse weather on your ability to travel. The Volvo V90 Cross Country features all-wheel drive and raised suspension designed to deal with wet and icy roads. Meanwhile, the heated windscreen makes de-icing much less of a chore and helps provide clear sight of the road from behind the wheel.
A highly adaptable car, the Cross Country model is a hybrid between an SUV and an estate. Volvo are renowned for their attention to safety, and the V90 is no different. It’s a popular choice for families. With features such as standard-fit electronic safety systems, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance, this Volvo SUV truly comes into its own when dealing with difficult driving conditions.
Setting off to the slopes in Europe with your car boot packed full of warm clothes and skis is an exciting winter activity. But climbing mountain roads to reach your resort and chalet can be hard. There’s a good reason why you see so many 4x4s, Jeeps and SUVs on the mountains. However capable your car, bear in mind that in many countries you may still have to fit winter tyres and carry snow chains.
One of the most popular 4-wheel-drive cars on the market is the Grand Cherokee. This SUV boasts complete off-road capability, with its 11.3in of clearance providing a ride height that’s both comfortable and practical. With extras in top of the line models such as heated seats and steering wheel, there are few cars that match luxury with raw power like the Grand Cherokee.
It’s not the most affordable choice but AA Car Finance may be able to help. With fast and easy-to-use online tools to check your eligibility and calculate the level of finance you could receive, it’s easier than ever before to upgrade to an SUV or find a monthly price that works for you.
Wherever your winter driving adventures take you, one of these models should make it a safe, warm and fun experience.
Images courtesy of iStock.