Should I buy a four-wheel-drive car for snow or will winter tyres do the job?

I want to buy a car to drive down to the Alps for the winter ski season. I'm thinking that an AWD or 4WD would be best, or will an ordinary car fitted with winter tyres be as good? I do appreciate that I will need to take snow chains. I don't want it to be too big as it will be parked in an underground car park with fairly tight spaces. I currently have a Honda Jazz so, ideally, not much bigger than that. A newish second-hand car would be best but I would also consider a new car. My budget is £30k. Any advice, particularly a list of models that I should consider, would be really appreciated. Thank you.

Asked on 5 July 2021 by Jeanne Hale

Answered by Russell Campbell
A two-wheel drive car with snow tyres is much better than a four-wheel drive without, although a four-wheel drive with snow tyres is the best option of the lot! The Mazda CX-30 is worth considering because it should be as reliable as your Honda and your budget is plenty to get you a brand new car. It looks stylish and feels nicely built inside. It has a 2.0-litre petrol engine so you can expect it to get around 40mpg if driven carefully, about 50% less than your Honda. For parking, it's about 3 cm longer than the Honda.

The Skoda Karoq is about the same size as the Mazda. It's not got quite as good a reputation for reliability as the Mazda (it's still pretty good) and it's not quite as stylish looking, however, it is more practical and has better infotainment. Four-wheel drive versions of the Karoq only come with a diesel engine, although I wouldn't let that put you off – it means they have plenty of power and will get better fuel economy than the Mazda. Your budget is enough to get you a new car.

Both the Fiat Panda 4x4 and the Suzuki Jimny have lots of grip in snow and are actually slightly smaller than your Jazz, although they both lack power and can feel a little wearing on a long drive. You'll get them brand new under budget.
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