What's the best car for snowy conditions? That question - or a variant thereof - will have been tapped into Google a million times this week. And in response, you'll normally get something from a site such as that of our sister mag, What Car?, telling you that what you really need is a diesel 4x4 with lots of space, good fuel economy and a smart interior. Worthy and sensible, yes, but ultimately rather dull.
What if you want something that can take monster snowy conditions while also throwing some entertainment into the mix? Happily, the PH classifieds have the answer. But before we delve into them, of course, a spot of disclaimer-age: it's been pretty hairy out there this week and in some parts of the country it still is, so if you are planning to head out on the roads, do take extra care, make sure you're fully prepared, and heed any local weather warnings.
Right. Now that's done, let's look at some old cars, shall we? And what better place to start with Audi, the first company to marry four-wheel drive with going fast on snow. The Quattro project is one which arguably reached its culmination, on the road at least, with the R8, a car which delivers not only the all-weather ability of all-wheel-drive, but a rear-biased set up which means it's able to offer more than simply safe understeer in low-grip conditions. The V10 is the one you want, but it's hard to resist the draw of a V8 manual at current prices. This one
looks just the ticket with a full history, low mileage, magnetic ride and a silver-over-black colour scheme for easy resale.
Don't worry if you haven't got forty grand to spend on a quick Audi coupe, though; at the other end of the scale, the Mk1 TT is now available at prices worth getting excited about. You'll probably be tired of the phrase 'surefire classic' being misused by now, but this is one that's bound to go up in value one day; certainly, you won't lose money on it, and in the meantime you'll get a smart, stylish little motor with a cracking interior, enough punch to entertain, and of course, four-wheel drive. This one's finished in the super-rare Kingfisher Blue, and comes with reasonable miles, heated leather and a full book. All yours for less than three grand.
Need more space? Don't fancy an Audi? Then why not that other snow go-to, a Subaru? The obvious choice is an Impreza, but my favourite Scooby's always been the Legacy; indeed, I currently own a BH 2.5 wagon. But were money no object, as a snow-beater I'd go for a later BP model, ideally in JDM-only GT-B Spec B form. This one
isn't cheap, but it looks like one of the best around, with low miles, the optional aero kit and, a tonne of work having just been carried out. Of course, as an import, you might want to get a bit of rust protection slopped onto the underside before you take it out in the snow for the first time, but other than that there's little to be concerned about - and a lot to like. Such as the sub-six-second 0-62 time, the vast, robustly-built interior, and the plethora of toys. This one would be pretty high on my list.
Or would a Volvo be more your cup of tea? Let's face it: no list of snowmobiles would be complete without something Swedish - and while elsewhere you'd find a nice, steady XC60 representing, we'd rather a V70 R
. This example is, let's be honest, not cheap - but it could be one of the best around, with reasonable mileage, plenty of stamps in the book and an absolutely smashing colour scheme. And if you need more convincing, just look at those seats. Like our Subaru, it's a Japanese import, so the point about rust-proofing stands - but otherwise, this one's a deeply tempting winter wagon.
All of these machines will get you out of a sticky spot on a road that's had a light dusting of snow. But what if you live in the sticks? What if you need something to crawl over drifts and plough through clumps; something that you know will get you back to civilisation come what may? The answer in such situations, as anyone who has experience of such things knows, is always 'Land Cruiser'. And as this is PH, we'll take our Land Cruiser with a side helping of petrol V8 - just like this one
. It's loaded with toys including nav, cruise, climate and heated leather, and it's done a distinctly reasonable 90,000 miles. The full history suggests it's a well-kept example, which means it should never let you down; the only minor flaw you'll have to put up with is the fuel economy: reckon on 15mpg on a good day. Thirteen large isn't cheap, but then Land Cruisers aren't - and why would they be with so much metal and capability in them?
There we have it - those are my suggestions. What are yours? Or have you already got the perfect car for the snow? If so, share it with us.