Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Hi,

I am currently costing out moving to the country and need to look at the running costs of a car to get me into work.

I will be 33 away from work so its a total of about 330 a week. About 18 are dual carriageway, but my problem is the 12 miles each way that are on twisty country roads, up near to the moors in Northumberland. During the winter these are bad roads.This area gets snowed in about 10 days every year.

What would people recommend. I need the following in order

Needs to be good in snow and ice
Good running costs
Easy availablity to spares
Can I drive it comfortably - I am 6 foot 2

I havenot got a budget but I am looking at at under 12 months old.

Thanks In advance

Baz

Best 4x4 for my needs? - Nickdm
- Fiat Panda 4x4, with the 1.3 diesel engine, must be one of the cheapest 4x4 options? Might have to buy new; I'm not sure there's loads of them around second-hand?
Best 4x4 for my needs? - AndyT
Most 'proper' 4x4s seem to be quite thirsty for the go juice, so how about something like a Skoda Octavia 4x4 estate for around £16.5k, or VW Golf/Passat 4-Motion (a fair bit more pricey!).
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Bagpuss
VW Golf fitted with winter tyres.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Aprilia
A Subaru.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Sofa Spud
>>The area gets snowed in for 10 days a year.<<

Chances are that when the snowing-in gets bad, the roads will be impassable in a 4x4 as well.
So you might buy a 4x4 only to find that you're still cut off for 5 days per year!
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Aprilia
4x4's aren't actually quite as good on snow and ice as many think. I live in a rural area with lots of twist lanes and its not unusual to see the odd 4x4 stuck in snow. Indeed, during snow last winter I had the pleasure of driving past a stuck Pajero at the bottom of the hill up to my house. People have too much confidence in 4x4. They work well when a couple of wheels have good grip. If all four are on slippery stuff then they can be no better than a 2WD vehicle.
If it snows really bad then its probably better to stay at home...
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Citroënian {P}
>>...probably better to stay at home...

and buy a nice 2WD car. With the money saved, get some nice wine, service the central heating and a decent TV with which to pass those cold, snowbound days!

If you're serious about getting anywhere in horrid conditions, a proper Land Rover 90/110 is about as good a balance of ability/money as you'll get.
-- You know, it\'s not like changing toothpaste
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Dynamic Dave
Or just stick with your current car and for the 10 or so days that the white stuff comes down purchase some snow chains.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Pugugly {P}
Subaru Forester or Legacy. Or buy a Landie with a set of winter tyres. Make some money towing the shiny 4x4 clowns out of ditches. (ooh an BMWs !)
Best 4x4 for my needs? - nick
Subaru Legacy Outback or Forester. Why do you think you see so many out in the sticks?
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Baskerville
It's been a while now but I used to spend a lot of time in th Cheviots and I'd say 4x4 isn't your highest priority. Sure the roads get bad, but they don't get impassable often and when they do they are likely to be impassable for everyone. What does happen though is they break up a lot. There are lots of holes and there's a lot of debris. If you're really talking about using the back lanes daily I'd say steel wheels and runflat tyres will be more useful on a day to day basis than 4x4. A puncture up on the moors on a dark, rainy, November night is no fun.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - M.M
The overall thread of replies here is about right. A well chosen front wheel drive with decent ground clearence plus winter tyres and/or chains will do you about as much good as a modern 4x4.

4x4s these days are built for the market they sell to. They are often too big, too heavy, too powerful, wear oversize slick road tyres... and to cap it all many run in 2wd by default and drivers do not fully understand the extra 4wd levers. They also insulate you far too much from what the wheels are doing.

Funny some folks have mentioned the Fiat Panda... the original Panda 4x4 from perhaps 20yrs ago was regarded as a bit of a joke but that was a brilliant snow car.

As said above an old 90 Series LR diesel with proper mud/snow tyres will probably get you the furthest with a modest amount of comfort. Of course there is always a John Deere for the really bad days!

Cheers,

M.M(D.W)
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Nsar
A friend of mine lives above Alston - England's highest town and only reachable from roads which come down from the moors so it's amongst the first to get cut off and stay thay way. He drives a Subaru and he has a spare set of wheels with snow tyres if it gets really bad.

Another friend who has a place in the Alps takes great pleasure in scoffing at the Brits on skiiing holidays in their big 4x4s as they struggle while he whizzs around in his old Golf with snow tyres.

Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Hi,

Thanks everyone...

Its up beside Alston except higher up. I have a company car at the minute, and its the worst vehicle I have even driven on ice and snow.

I have always fancied a Skoda Fabia VRS Diesel. What do people think that would be like with Snow tyres on. Would it be okay on ice within reason as well?

I know I will get snowed in, but I need to be seen as attempting to go to work. I think I have got a room in town when I need it so it wont be too bad... I hope!

I have considered the Panda, but didnot fancy another car with the 1200 Fiat engine if its the same as whats in a 1996 Punto!

Does anyone know where I can find info about how well cars drive in the snow?

regards

Barry
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Nsar
Bazza,

My friend Bob owns High Windy Hall above Garrigill on the Barnard Castle Road - finest food and wines for miles around and the George and Dragon in Garrigill is a pub of outstanding natural beauty.

I think the Fabia in that guise would give great pleasure on those roads
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Sofa Spud
When I did Land Rover trialling someone got a Land Rover stuck in a muddy gateway that someone else had just driven through in a Fiesta!
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Sofa Spud
Also remember that a 4x4 might be able to keep going in slippery conditions where a normal car comes to a stop, but 4x4s are no better at braking on a slippery road, since all cars have 4 wheel brakes! Of course, braking is to be avoided as far as possible in such conditions but sometimes you have to!
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Aprilia
One of the best cars I ever saw for driving on snow was a Citroen 2CV fitted with skinny tyres - seemed to pull through it effortlessly.

Go to Sweden, Austria etc and you'll see a lot of folks driving ordinary FWD hatchbacks with snow tyres/chains on. They seem to manage OK. Steer clear of BMW's and Mercs though - RWD makes them a bit of handful on ice and snow.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Gromit {P}
"- Fiat Panda 4x4, with the 1.3 diesel engine, must be one of the cheapest 4x4 options?"

Fiat only offer the 4x4 with the 1.2 petrol. Bizzare - you'd think the extra torque of the diesel would be ideal for it.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - defender
tyres are the most important bit of rural winter driving ,it pays to get proper snow tyres on a spare set of wheels and you might even consider having them fitted with tungsten studs ,they are very good on icy conditions.
ground clearance is obviously important for driving in deep snow ,subaru is very good but not too cheap to run ,volvo awd is very good .,the biggest consideration is how you drive it as long as your tyres are up to the job
Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Hi,

Thanks for the last post. I didnot consider snow tyres and the Tungsten studs pointed me towards:-

something like a Skoda Diesel and fit the sport system of these www.spikesspider.com/how.htm

Do people think this is a better option? Will diesel due to its weight be better than petrol?

regards

Baz
Best 4x4 for my needs? - bradgate
I would suggest a Subaru Forester or Outback, fitted with a set of winter tyres.

Subaru do not produce diesels, but the non-turbo models aren't horrendously thirsty.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Pugugly {P}
When I did Land Rover trialling someone got a Land Rover stuck in a muddy gateway that someone else had just driven through in a Fiesta!

Probably more of reflection on their respective drivers.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Westpig
correct tyres and keep moving.... (in almost anything)....... versus.... someone who doesn't know what they're doing... and you'll be better off

although my old duck had a Ford Sierra once that was truly gifted at getting stuck anywhere... no matter how you tried it.

Someone did tell me once, that on a rear wheel drive (and presumably 4) that if you pull the hand brake up by half, you will get traction evenly on both wheels and not leave one spinning........ tried it once on a Mercedes Sprinter van that i'd got stuck on a grass verge and had one wheel on tarmac, the other on wet grass...worked perfectly.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Aprilia
Someone did tell me once, that on a rear wheel drive
(and presumably 4) that if you pull the hand brake up
by half, you will get traction evenly on both wheels and
not leave one spinning........


This is very true - done it many a time in the past when RWD was more common. It gives a 'limited slip diff' effect.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Xileno {P}
Freelander? Best 4x4xfar.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - deepwith
How about an x-trail? I have one in the far south for boat and field/track duties but sister has one in the Borders for getting to her business whatever the weather. She found it is great whatever the conditions - particularly good to keep in auto for the gearing so you are in 2 wheel drive but clicks into 4 wheel if you hit mud etc and need the extra drive.
My passengers are mainly over 6 footers and all find plenty of room.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Hi,

What are people thoughts on the Suzuki ignis with 4 Grip? I am now looking at driving to the nearest station which is 12 miles each way.

My in laws ran a Frontera 3 Door sport which got stuck all the time. Where the Fronteras just bad, or am I wasting my time trying to battle the elements?

Baz





Best 4x4 for my needs? - Aprilia
Hi,
What are people thoughts on the Suzuki ignis with 4 Grip?
I am now looking at driving to the nearest station which
is 12 miles each way.


You can get these very cheaply now. Likely to be reliable and do the basics OK.
My in laws ran a Frontera 3 Door sport which got
stuck all the time. Where the Fronteras just bad, or am
I wasting my time trying to battle the elements?


You can't beat the laws of physics.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Baskerville
>am I wasting my time trying to battle the elements?

I think you're making a meal of it. This is Britain, not Alaska. Mostly it rains, sometimes it sleets, and occasionally it snows. 99.99% of the time any car currently available will get through. Rural drivers get better at dealing with it anyway. Just go with the flow and stop letting your imagination run away with you.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - local yokel
Agree with baskerville - I've lived and worked most of my life in rural areas from Cornwall to North Yorkshire, and most people drive 2WD cars, and survive. Ice is your biggest issue, and 4wd does not help that much on ice, IME. Had a Shogun for a while and it was no better at coping than a Jetta that we had at the same time.

4WD will get you and your horse trailer out of a wet field, perhaps, but that's about it.

The other problem on rural roads in winter is that you'll go round a corner and find it blocked by a lorry etc. - no 4wd will get you round that!
Best 4x4 for my needs? - boxsterboy
A spare set of steel rims that you won't mind the salt attacking, and a set of snow tyres, coupled with traction control. I put these on my Merc E320, and on a drive to Swiss Alps earlier this year had just as much traction as the in-laws did in their Subaru Forester.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Bagpuss
A spare set of steel rims that you won't mind the
salt attacking, and a set of snow tyres, coupled with traction
control. I put these on my Merc E320, and on a
drive to Swiss Alps earlier this year had just as much
traction as the in-laws did in their Subaru Forester.

Yes, it's all in the tyres. I once drove from Munich to Ischgl in Austria for a skiing holiday. The roads were covered in snow and just south of Garmisch Patenkirchen it started to snow really heavily. I had something of an air of smugness about me as I drove my winter tyre equipped 2wd Golf past the X5s, Range Rovers and similar (inevitably with british and dutch number plates) which were skidding along the side of the road due to their super low profile tyres not getting any grip despite 4wd. I also didn't need the snow chains once.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Hi,

Its nice to get feedback about 2wd with snow tyres. I will try and manage for the short term with my wifes Mark 2 Focus Diesel with decent snow tyres on and then look at it again if I get problems. Will invest in some spiderspikes as well.....

Just need to get planning permission to convert the barn now and we are away!

Barry
Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Forgot the link!

www.needamobile.co.uk/snow.jpg

Baz
Best 4x4 for my needs? - bazza1603
Hi,

Sorry this computer is driving me bonkers.....

The above link is a picture of me getting stuck on Christmas day 2004. The bank is steep and I need a tow to reach the top from my father in law.

The property we are after is at the bottom of the lane.

Regards

Baz
Best 4x4 for my needs? - barchettaman
Hi Barry,
To echo what´s been said, anything with FWD and a set of winter tyres on steel wheels. Really capable on winter roads.
I got mine for the Astra for ?50 on eBay here in Germany. But I wa really lucky - nice Contis, loads of tread, and the guy set the auction to finish on a Tuesday so noone spotted it.
As regards the Fabia I would recommend it anyway, my folks have one and it´s a Porsche eater. Plus 65% of the weight is on the front axle so traction should be OK in snow with winter tyres.
Best of luck with the house purchase anyway.
cheers,
barchettaman
Best 4x4 for my needs? - defender
I wouldnt dismiss a rear wheel drive ,with proper weight distribution and a bit of driver ability it will be as good as a front wheel drive especially if it has a limited slip diff
Best 4x4 for my needs? - nick
I think 4wd with snow tyres is going to be better than fwd with snow tyres. In your situation I would prefer 4wd and a Subaru is the no-brainer answer. Plus they're a hoot to drive when it isn't snowy which is most of the time.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - Harmattan
As a committed buyer of winter tyres (wife and family actually use the vehicles thus equipped) I agree that winter tyres fitted to a 2WD car can be a good solution if the 2WD does everything else you need. From the photo, grip does seem to be your problem as it is for my wife who travels to work up a one in 3.5 hill that spends many winter days in shade and therefore frozen. Our solution for the half-mile or so of tarmac and farm track that causes a problem has been to use permanent 4WD cars that serve our needs in other ways. Now practically extinct, our Citroen BX 4x4 estate was ideal for the job and as a doggy wagon. It was replaced by a Daihatsu YRV 4x4 (also fairly rare and out of production in rhd for the UK). It is not as good for the dog and lacks the locking differential of the BX but also fitted with winter Goodyear tyres does the job very securely. A Subaru would be ideal but I am going to look at the new Daihatsu Terios which is cheaper and has the locking diff useful if you get stopped, say by avoiding a speeding Range Rover sliding into the scenery.

Having driven and owned various semi-permanent 4WD vehicles, I feel happier with a permanent system. Having the extra two wheels suddenly come into play when you lose grip on a narrow country lane with walls on either side can be a bit disconcerting in a VW synchro, for example. Lack of a centre diff, let alone locking, limits their usefulness too. As someone said, the old Fiat Panda 4x4 with selectable all-wheel drive was good in snow but the one we bought new in 1986 had poor standard Pirellis unsuited to cold weather use and a Renault 4 with Michelin ZXs was nearly as good in snow thanks to its lightness.

For winter tyres, the UK supply is often limited so I buy through MyTyres from Germany where they have a good selection, and they have some all-seasons tyres from Nokian of Finland who claim good winter performance. Bear in mind that choice may be limited if you buy something like a Prado with 17in wheels.
Best 4x4 for my needs? - local yokel
Mildly left field, but what about a Series 2 Land Rover? You'd need to spend about £4k, and leave it on a trickle charger in winter, and keep it under cover. No RFL to pay, classic insurance of about £100 pa, and great for trips to the tip etc. It would hold its price, and do the job when needed. That way you could have something fun for the days that the sun shines.
 

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