Winter tyres: 4x4 grip test video

Are winter tyres needed on a 4x4 car? We find out in this exclusive video

Winter tyres are going to be on a lot of minds this year - Britain could face a particularly harsh winter, 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 4x4 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 4x4 Ford Kuga costs £1500 more than the normal model.

Winter tyres test 2013

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 4x4 on summer tyres - and the results might surprise you.

With winter tyres, the normal Kuga went 110 metres up the slope, while the 4x4 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 4x4 on winter tyres - without the right rubber, a 4x4 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. Make sure you catch up on our winter tyres vs summer tyres video for more information, and read out full 2013 Winter Tyre Test to find out which tyres to go for.

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