Don’t be deceived. Until March is safely behind us in the rear-view mirror, we are not out of the winter’s cold grasp. When the snow comes down and the slush then freezes overnight, whole traffic systems can slow down and that’s with the support urban gritters. If you live in the country then conditions are often doubly treacherous, making motoring a potential nail biting scenario, if you could only release your cast iron grip on the steering wheel.
Of course, certain cars measure up better in cold weather than others and can add a whole new dimension to motoring in the winter. However, no-one wants to break the bank, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the best seasonal runners that can be found on the second-hand market for less than £5K.
You only need look at this vehicle to know that it loves all kinds of tough terrain, and its going to eat up the snow like a mechanical monster. One of the most cost-effective SUVs on the road, the Dacia Duster gives you a whole host of comfort features behind the wheel, where you’ll find yourself relaxing into its easy handling. One of the key elements of the traction is the 4×4 system, which holds onto the road like no one’s business. With 408 litres of space in the back and smaller diesel engines available it has a great balance of carry power and economy.
The Audi A4 wins the prize for style and solid handling in a single package. Available as a rather tasty Quattro version, giving a cursory nod back to the past days of class B rally glory. As the name suggests a computer-controlled engine delivers torque to each wheel with the modern addition of anti-slip regulation systems and ABS to the original set up. These new features ensure that this darling of the Audi range has exactly what you need for premium motoring in the cold. Like all its makes and models, you get a great in car experience. The only question you need to ask is what’s not to love…?
Looking for a bigger car for the cold but don’t want the hefty size and weight of an SUV? Subaru definitely has something to add to the argument in the form of the Outback. This car has the space offered by an estate, giving you the carry-power you need in the cold, together with the standard 4×4 drive system to make easy going over everything winter in the UK can throw under your wheels. With a range of different engines available, including a 2.0 litre diesel that gives you a very respectable 50 mpg, you not only save money on the purchase price, but running costs are also kept that little bit lower.
You’d be surprised at the value you can extract from a second-hand Qashqai. With used models changing hands for surprisingly low amounts of cash this is a popular vehicle that’s available at a loveable price. The 4×4 mode available at the push of a button is great in the ice and snow, ensuring you claw into the road surface and get the bite you need for solid traction. There are plenty of cool features to keep you connected in the car, but the most noteworthy standard feature is the hill start assist, giving you that little extra boost when you need to gain momentum on an icy incline.
Smaller cars can only dream of the gripping power offered by the big, chunky tyres on the Sport. Couple this with an awesome selectable 4×4 mode and you have the recipe for winter driving without the hassle. Passengers will be comfortable with a very refined in cabin experience on offer with great stability and very little roll in corners. And if all these great features are not enough, we saved the best till last. The terrain response system puts the power at the driver’s fingertips to instantly adjust the traction, braking and stability control systems to handle any type of road surface. Just what you need in winter for a very easy life.
Further proof that winter motoring isn’t only about being the biggest and baddest vehicle out there on the ice, is offered in the Fiat Panda 4×4. This aggressive little box of motoring has secured the glance of more than one or two admirers based on its looks alone. Of course, it’s the under the bonnet antics that has nailed its place on our list with great handling and enough traction to hold onto icy surfaces. Expert opinion suggests that the 1.3l diesel engine is the better choice for fuel economy than the 1.2l petrol, helping you balance every aspect of this car’s budget.
Nothing says safety quite like a Volvo, and the XC90 is without question one of the most robust vehicle’s they have on the market. The Euro NCAP 5-star rating should be evidence enough. With a tough and rugged looking exterior hiding several features designed to minimise the impact of treacherous conditions, you can’t fault a buying decision that finishes with the purchase of one of these SUVs. The winter mode puts the ice on the back foot with just a touch of a button, and the safe positioning system tightens the seatbelts if the car senses that something dangerous might be coming your way.
Another smaller car with a heart big enough to conquer the cold is the Suzuki Swift. This diminutive powerhouse is one of the only superminis available in the UK with four-wheel drive and autonomous emergency braking to help ensure that you can stay on track in even the iciest conditions. Throw in the clever ALLGRIP system and you have the recipe for easy winter motoring, when all about you are losing their heads and spinning wheels on the slush. As you would expect, there’s also the whole fuel economy angle to consider. At 62.8mpg this is a very attractive option and a great addition to the list.
If safety with style is the main issue on your agenda, then settle your desires with a BMW 3 Series. This vehicle has a whole host of features that not only give you the ride of your life, but also ensure that the cold won’t impact your enjoyment. With the X-Drive system regulating the engine performance and braking systems, adapting the handling to contend with even the most slippery surfaces, this is one car that can manage the cold. And we are not the only people that think this, as the EuroNCAP rating is a full 5 stars.
Want roomy motoring with the space to think in the cabin? The high-topped sides of the Subaru Forester could be your perfect option. This vehicle gives you spacious room, great reliability and a ton of torque in the form of the turbocharged 2.0 litre petrol engine that delivers the power directly to all four wheels. Expect a quality performance in the snow that will keep you going for years, with those design experts at Subaru putting together one tough runner that’s rated as one of the least likely to breakdown on the road.
That’s it. Our ten great buys to see you through the winter months. And if you are thinking of purchasing a second-hand car then be sure to check out our articles listing some of the checks that you should definitely go through before you part with your hard-earned cash.