It’s never that much of a surprise, sadly, when you see the British driving public hit the ‘mass panic’ button once the snow starts to fall. From cars vainly attempting to climb up steep hills to vehicles abandoned in the local supermarket car park, it always seems as if the UK is hopelessly unprepared for an inevitable wintry blizzard or 2. So to ensure you don’t get stranded in the snow, here’s our round-up of the best new cars which are more than capable of tackling the coldest and deepest of winters.
Fiat Panda 4x4
Who would have thought a Fiat Panda would make the list of top cars for snow?! But this little low-cost machine can handle any terrain or weather conditions, thanks to the fact it's a surprisingly tough 4x4. It may be small and you may be tight on interior space, but if you’re looking for an affordable city and cross-country vehicle, you may have found it right here. Design-wise, although the cabin is a bit cramped, Fiat has added extra storage pockets in useful places, and the interior also features tech including start/stop and Bluetooth.
BMW 3 Series xDrive Touring
This 3 Series Touring has all of the practicalities of an estate car with a sporty drive, but it may come as a surprise that this is also a great car for winter driving. That’s because the xDrive models have 4-wheel drive, not BMW’s traditional (and largely useless in the snow) rear-wheel-drive set-up. Furthermore, the 3 Series xDrive Touring is packed with extra safety features that can detect cyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles while you’re on the frozen roads, and this tech can even help to apply the brakes to avoid any accidents. It also has speed-limit recognition, so if you’re on unfamiliar roads you can concentrate on the weather conditions, rather than whether you’re breaking the local speed limit or not.
SEAT Tarraco 4Drive
If a big 7-seater is what you’re after, to fit in everyone and everything from the kids and the dogs to the big Christmas shop, then the SEAT Tarraco may be the one for you. So you’ve got the space, but how does it deal with unexpected icy blasts? Well, you have the option of 4-wheel drive coupled to an easy-shifting DSG twin-clutch gearbox with the 2.0-litre TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel versions, for a start. If that’s not enough, you even have an option to select ‘Snow’ or ‘Off-Road’ modes from the driving selector in the cabin, AND if you opt for the FR Sport trim then you get a Winter Pack as standard – which includes heated front and rear seats to keep you and your passengers warm, as well as heated washer jets to prevent your washer fluid from freezing in the nozzles!
Suzuki Swift 4x4
If you’re looking for a supermini that can handle anything, take a look at the Suzuki Swift. This great little city car can tackle even the iciest of conditions, thanks to certain models being available with the company’s AllGrip 4-wheel-drive system – making the Swift a rare AWD beast in its market sector. Not only that, but you also get automatic emergency braking, so if you feel like you’re losing control you have extra protection to help prevent or mitigate collisions.
MINI Countryman ALL4
Another surprising one to add to the list, but the MINI Countryman crossover is packed with safety features and driver-assist technology to help you while you're out and about driving during icy conditions. These advanced braking features include Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), which varies the amount of force applied to the wheels based on road conditions and speed, as well as Cornering Brake Control (CBC) that assists the driver during manoeuvring a curve at a high speed. Naturally, it also comes with brake-assist technology and ABS, too. Not only that, but the Countryman ALL4 is fun to drive, cheap to run and it's safe too, having achieved a 5-star EuroNCAP rating in 2017.
You want a car that’s imperious in snow, you want one that’s built to the safest possible standards by the Swedes, a nation that knows how to deal with frosty conditions. Step forward the mighty Volvo XC90 7-seat SUV. This has a nifty ‘Winter’ mode, which you can turn on once the cold weather sets in. It means your XC90 will take off in 3rd gear to help with low-grip, icy conditions. Not only that, this Volvo has a 5-star safety rating with some of the highest individual section scores possible, and it also boasts a safety-positioning system which tightens the front seatbelts – so if the worst comes to the worst and a collision was inevitable, the Volvo automatically makes sure you've got extra protection.
If you’re interested in going electric but unsure on how these sorts of vehicles perform during winter months, why not take a look at the Polestar 2? This 4-wheel-drive electric car, which shares so much with Volvo (and, as we’ve already seen, Volvo knows what it is doing in snow), will have you covered in winter months. Polestar recommends that drivers change the setting for 1-pedal driving to Off or Low, to contribute to more stable driving in icy conditions. If driving in colder temperatures will be the norm for you, Polestar offers the ‘Plus Pack’, which features a heated steering wheel and energy saving heat pump, which uses thermal energy in the air and waste heat from the powertrain and battery to control the temperature, and increase the car’s driving range.
Range Rover Sport
If you’re looking for something a little upmarket for all seasons, give the Range Rover Sport due consideration. The Sport is a 4x4, so you’re safe in the knowledge that it can tackle any terrain and it also has an intelligent system called ‘Terrain Response’ that controls safety features including traction control, electronic stability control and ABS. If you opt for the most expensive trim, the SVR, then you can simply switch on the cosy heated steering wheel and passenger seats after a lovely, wintry walk.
The Peugeot 3008 is a super addition if you’re looking for any crossover/SUV, what with its impressive amount of interior space, smooth driving ability and the great-looking styling too. But how is it in wintry conditions? Well, the good news is that Peugeot has fitted the 3008 with Advanced Grip Control, which means at the first sight of snow, you can rest easy knowing that the 3008 can handle it. The Grip Control adjusts the amount of power going to the front wheels, which helps the car handle the icy and snowy conditions, plus this little feature is also brilliant for when you’ve got to tackle steep hills.
If you’re looking for a no-frills car which is suitable for all weathers, the Dacia Duster is for you. Affordable, comfortable and spacious, it seems this little SUV has it all. As soon as the winter months come along, this car comes into its own, with features including an automatic 4x4 mode, which lets the car decide what setting it needs to be in. You also get a lot more as standard with the Duster, all of which makes winter driving less intimidating, including traction control and power-assisted steering, electronic stability control (ESC) and anti-lock brakes (ABS).