‘Snow joke out there

Andrew Elphick

The Pirelli Sottos (quiet noisy, but great turn in)
The Pirelli Sottos: quite noisy, but great turn in

It’s snowing outside right now in most places in Britain, even in our soft southern corner… the same corner in which normally rational people (which excludes Nissan Note and Vauxhall Corsa owners) lose the ability to drive when the snow arrives.

Me? Well, in all honesty, I’m no better behind the wheel but I was returning from work this morning so had fair reason to help the queues escalate. Visit France, Italy or Switzerland during winter and everyone’s prepared – right tyres, proper winter concentrate screen wash, wipers in the air (so they don’t glue to the windscreen) and properly de-misted cars.

Here in Britain? Let’s see:

No lights – tick; every window obscured with snow – tick; 8000 revs sideways – tick; Exhaust hanging off – tick (see below)

Peugeot driver struggles with poor conditions
Peugeot driver struggles with poor conditions

People in the south are far more useless it seems purely because snow never happens down here (but that excludes the last two winters when it did). However, shelling out on some previously enjoyed winter tyres (£130) was a shrewd investment on a RWD barge, especially up this incline (may have used uncompacted snowy wrong side of the road, T&C’s apply).

Click this link to see the hill.

My advice? Well, if you were contemplating some winter tyres, get them – if they work on an old RWD automatic barge, they should be fantastic on a FWD hatch. I think, in hindsight, I should have purchased new tyres because, in the month since I’ve had them fitted, they have behaved impeccably in the wet. Hell, I even stuck them on the alloys! Sniffing about, try the car enthusiasts’ enemy Kwik Fit, because they have some rather good online prices on Continentals among others.

One word of warning: you still can’t avoid that steamed-up Renault Scenic driven by the nice lady wearing mittens on four bald Chinese tyres…

The Continental winter contacts (quite, er quiet)
The Continental winter contacts: quite, er quiet
Keith Adams


  1. As a Northerner in these parts (coming from anywhere north of Luton is classed as eeyup country), I fully agree with the aspersions which you cast upon namby pamby idiots who couldn’t drive in snow if it slapped them across the face.

    I’ve had several ranting sessions with supposedly professional drivers (taxis, posties) in the past when they’ve been furiously spinning wheels at 8,000rpm bouncing off the limiter and laying down a nice sheet of ice for me to drive over. The amount of crashed MGFs this time last year was somewhat amusing too.

    I reckon there should be a new rule: if you get stuck driving a car in snow that’s less than 5 inches deep and are not on a serious incline, then you should instantly lose your driving licence!

  2. Interestingly, one of my colleagues at work lives in Billericay and claimed this morning that he was unable to get to our workplace in West Thurrock due to his Lexus IS200 being unable to get out of his cul-de-sac, which is built on a very slight incline…

    Myself, I got to and from work with nary a problem (even though I live in Southend), as my daily driver is a 1997 Volvo V70 fitted with traction control and good tyres AND I know how to drive in snow :).

  3. I dug out a woman in a Volvo S60 yesterday.

    She was driving in the snow in an automatic, chav wheels with near slick track-style tyres painted on, 7000 rpm, spinning wheels – with a ‘phone at her ear and a baby in the back – and she wondered why nobody wanted to push her up the hill!

  4. Front wheel drive cars are generally better in snow, due to the weight of the engine over the driving wheels providing for better traction.

    This was illustrated to me as a child when it snowed – my dad’s (rear wheel drive) Vauxhall Carlton was unable to drive up the hill out of our close, whereas my mum’s (front wheel drive) Vauxhall Astra could…

  5. “One word of warning: you still can’t avoid that steamed-up Renault Scenic driven by the nice lady wearing mittens on four bald Chinese tyres…”

    That’s so true – you can be as prepared as humanly possible, but we still share the roads with complete idiots who seem to have the right to drive and breed…

  6. @Adrian
    You see quite a lot of BMWs at the side of the road when the real snow hits.

    I remember my dad had a RWD Granada Mk2 – that seemed to perform well in the snow.

  7. I couldn’t have put any of these comments better myself.

    I’ve just driven back from Germany in my 1981 Austin Maxi which is currently fitted with winter tyres. These have just become law in Germany. The car was buried in 12 inches plus of snow earlier in the week but dug itself out without any problem.

    My friend has an AMG Mercedes but he doesn’t trust himself or the car in the snow and so has flown home.

    Oh, and as regards to BMWs, one snowflake = hopeless!

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