Baby, it’s cold outside: Top three cars for winter

Summer, schmummer. Who needs those sweaty, languid days when the sun gets in your eyes and your hay fever is working overtime?

Even if your friends might look at you like the biggest contrarian on the planet, a true winter lover will know and appreciate just why the cold season is the best season.

Look at it this way, which other time of the year lends itself better to cosying up on the sofa by a log fire and large amounts of mulled wine? Winter is also the time for comfy jackets, presents, LOTS of turkey with all the trimmings and snowballing (weather permitting, of course).

Unfortunately, winter is also the most deadly of seasons for drivers, with snowy and icy roads accountable for dozens of road-related injuries and deaths every year.

The combination of plummeting temperatures and late nights makes navigating the roads uniquely troublesome for drivers, particularly in the UK where we’re more prone to wetter weather anyway.

As a result, it can be a good idea to get a car that’s prepared for the worst weather that can be thrown at it, particularly for drivers who live in areas more susceptible to freezing over than other parts of the country.

Mountainous regions and rural areas can all fall victim to the worst of the winter weather, with many smaller roads not receiving the gritting and attention that urban roads and motorways get, so it’s handy to be prepared .

Luckily, plenty of car manufacturers offer models that are perfect for tackling the worse weather, with lots of equipment, kit and features to get you through the thickest of snow drifts. Here’s a quick list of some of what we think are the best of them.

SEAT Leon X-PERIENCE

SEAT’s the four-wheel drive crossover Leon X-PERIENCE model is the latest in the Spanish marque’s highly popular Leon range, was first unveiled back in late June.

Based on the standard Leon, the X-PERIENCE comes with extra body cladding and new trim options, plus a ride height that’s 15mm taller than the original Leon for an off-road advantage.

This is matched with a new 4×4 drivetrain with permanent four-wheel drive, giving the X-PERIENCE some serious credibility as a genuine off-roader. As a result, it’ll stay controlled in even the slipperiest of low-traction environments, lending you a little extra ability on ice, snow, mud or any other surface where grip is an issue.

Exterior features include twin chrome tailpipes, large front air intakes and all-road suspension, while it also comes with integrated fog lamps as standard, which is perfect for making you a little more visible on dark nights.

Two trim levels are available: SE and SE Technology, and standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels and dark tinted rear windows, plus rear parking sensors.

Looking more like an elevated estate than a 4×4 crossover, the X-PERIENCE is a stylish option for those less interested in the typically rugged appearance of off-roaders. It’s still plenty practical, however, with a massive 587-litre boot, which can expand to 1,470 litres with the rear seats folded.

As a result, you’ll have room for you, your kids and all the sleds, boots and other winter equipment that you can throw at it, and then some.

A hit with critics, the Leon X-PERIENCE is also pretty easy on the pocket, with a range of frugal diesel engines that can deliver up to 57.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 129g/km.

Priced from a more than reasonable £24,385, the Leon X-PERIENCE has been available to order from September, with first deliveries expected later this month – just in time for Christmas!

Jaguar all-wheel drive F-TYPE

“Powerful, agile and distinctive”, that’s how the F-TYPE is described by Jaguar , and we wholeheartedly agree. Potent, but also poised and elegant, the F-TYPE matches sleek styling with plenty of muscle on the road.

Just last month, Jaguar announced an extensive expansion of the F-TYPE range, swelling the number of models on offer from eight to a total of 14. The most eye-catching of those new announcements was the addition of a four-wheel drive powertrain.

Matching the signature style and performance that the F-TYPE range has become renowned for, the AWD models take things one step further, but combining that with all-out 4×4 capability.

The introduction of four-wheel drive on certain German-manufactured rally cars in the early 1980s saw the dawn of a new era in performance motoring.

Manufacturers realised that by pairing the four-wheel drive system common on SUVs with high-powered sports cars, they had a recipe for a car that could outperform any other in low-grip surfaces like snow, regardless of how powerful the competition was.

As a result, if straight up all-weather performance is your bag, the AWD F-TYPE makes possibly the finest choice available on the market now. With the F-TYPE’s head-turning looks and a powertrain that won’t slow down for hell nor high water, it’s easily one of our favourite new cars of the year.

The all-wheel drive powertrain is available on F-TYPE S models equipped with the V6 engine, as well as R-badged models with V8 engines. It’s also available in both coupe and convertible formats, and with a choice of either manual or automatic transmissions on the V6-powered models.

Output ranges between 335bhp for the entry-level V6 S and an insane 543bhp on the V8-powered R models, with the same 186mph top speed as the regular F-TYPE but with around 0.2 seconds shaved off the 0-62 sprint time.

Virtually identical on the exterior to the regular F-TYPE, the AWD version features a slight bulging in the bonnet to house the extra four-wheel drive equipment, along with the exclusive AWD badging.

A generous 407-litre boot means that there’s plenty of room for shopping or luggage bags, though we reckon any driver who buys one of these will be more concerned with caning it round hairpins than taking it down to the local Asda.

Other features includes a new traction-monitoring system and alloy wheels in a choice of 19- or 20-inch diameter, depending on the model. Though it won’t be available to buy until the Spring next year, we reckon it would make a welcome addition to a driver’s garage in any season.

Pricing for the all-wheel drive F-TYPE starts at £66,900 for the entry-level V6 S AWD Coupe.

Dacia Duster

The one thing about winter which people don’t like that we can understand is that, at times, it’s just a bit of a messy season.

Rain, sleet and snow can make your clothes soggy and no matter how waterproof your boots and gloves are, they always seem to end up getting soaked anyway. Not to mention that all that standing water and mud seems to practically scream for kids and pets to jump into it!

With all that in mind, we can totally understand that you mightn’t want to spend a load of money on a brand-new car for the winter, just to have Fido jump in and plaster it all in one swift wag of his soggy tail.

For parents of large families for whom time is precious, or for drivers who perhaps could use a cheap seasonal run-around, but the Dacia Duster is an attractive offer. For a start, Dacia’s ethos of inexpensive cars which don’t feel cheap means that you can drive away a brand-new car for less than the price of a used one.

Particularly in the SUV market, where the price of a decent SUV can quickly rocket skywards, the Duster offers all the size and practicality of a much more expensive car, with a price that starts from only £9,495.

In spite of its low-cost appeal, the Duster has also won widespread critical acclaim, with a wide array of awards under its belt, the most recent of which was the CarBuyer award for Best Small SUV. It has also become one of Dacia’s most popular models, with more than a million built as of April.

The Duster comes with three trim levels and the option of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive available on each, though we’d recommend the four-wheel drive option, particularly for the winter or other low-grip environments.

Obviously it won’t have the same amount of luxury you could expect from a top of the range Land Rover or similar model, but the Duster nonetheless comes with a surprisingly comprehensive amount of kit for its price point.

Along with four-wheel drive, it also comes with remote locking and 16-inch wheels, plus electric windows, plus electronic stability and traction controls for extra reassurance on those slippery roads.

Depending on trim levels, the Dacia SUV can also be specified with satin chrome detailing, cruise control and a leather-trimmed steering wheel, plus a radio and CD player with integrated USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

Its low price means that you won’t be afraid to get it a little dirty, and its interior is also trimmed with wipe-down plastic surfaces.

These mightn’t tick all the boxes when it comes to luxury, but one plus is that they’re easy to wipe clean, particularly if you have pets, children or anything else that’s liable to trod snow, mud or water into your car on a regular basis.

Add that with a class-beating 1,636-litre boot and you have the recipe for a real winner that won’t break your bank, and can work brilliantly for a household that needs a second car, or just a little extra practicality when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Two engines are available; a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with outputs of either 106bhp or 108bhp depending on which powertrain option you choose that can deliver up to 56.5mpg on the combined cycle.

Available to buy now, the Dacia Duster is available from Perrys dealerships and priced from £9,495.