Winter Tyres Or 4×4: Which Is Best? – Auto Express


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Winter tyres are going to be on a lot of minds this year – Britain could face a particularly harsh winter this year, with snow falling from as early as November. If you’ve got a four-wheel drive car, you probably think you’re properly prepared – but are you?

We went up to Tamworth Snowdome to find out if a front-wheel drive car with winter tyres has more traction in the snow than a 4×4 with summer tyres fitted. We used two Ford Kugas, both with 2.0-litre diesel engines and manual gearboxes – but one is front-wheel drive, and the other all-wheel drive. The 4×4 Ford Kuga costs £1500 more than the normal model.

In snowy conditions the rubber in summer tyres gets harder and less grippy. Winter tyres use a softer compound, and a tread pattern that’s designed to pick up snow – improving grip in these harsh conditions.

In our first test we saw that the front-wheel drive car on summer tyres was hopeless in the snow – but when fitted with winter tyres, it obviously did much better. However we also tested the 4×4 on summer tyres – and the results might surprise you.

With winter tyres, the normal Kuga went 110 metres up the slope, while the 4×4 car only made it 13 metres up, before sliding back down 9 metres. in the end, it ended up no further than the standard did with summer tyres.

We also tested the four-wheel drive Ford Kuga with winter tyres – and the difference was astonishing. There was plenty of grip and the car drove all the way to the top of the steep ski slope without a problem.

Obviously, the best solution for driving on snow is to have a 4×4 on winter tyres – without the right rubber, a 4×4 is just as useless as a two wheel drive car.

Having four-wheel drive won’t help with braking, though – and that’s much more important.
Winter Tyres Or 4×4: Which Is Best? – Auto Express

14 Comments on “Winter Tyres Or 4×4: Which Is Best? – Auto Express”

  1. Really wish we could see a comparison of AWD with all season tires vs RWD/FWD on snow tires. That is the argument I always hear. Everyone knows that equal cars setup on snow tires will obviously favor the winter snow tires. I mean, what sort of moron cannot figure that conclusion out? I want to see if spending the money on the AWD and saving it on the tire sets and changing each season is better than saving the money on the AWD option, and spending it on 2 sets of wheels and tires is better.

  2. Lost me at Summer Tires. Why? They don’t even come from the factory with summer tires. How about All Season or All Weather vs Winter Tires. Oh right, winter tire propaganda. Downvote

  3. Should have been against an AWD with ALL SEASON TIRES!!!! Of course the summer tires are garbage. All that effort for a video that shows us nothing. People want to see if swapping out all seasons for winter tires are worth it.

  4. I know this is an old video and probably been commented on many times but, why summer tires? Should have been standard all seasons vs winter.

  5. Meanwhile, I go up the hill on a snowmobile ? Joking. I do want to see an All Season tire comparison too.

  6. FWD possibly could have made it if you turned traction control off when you got stuck. You should *always* try that at low speeds stuck in snow. Or use snow mode if your car has it.

  7. For most drivers, the considerable extra expense (purchase and maintenance) of a 4×4 or AWD car is a total waste of money. You’re much better off buying a set of wheels shod with winter tyres and storing them in the garage. If you’ve ever driven a FWD or RWD car in the snow with winter tyres you’ll know how amazingly well they grip on the snow.

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