You might have noticed it snowed last week. Quite a lot; certainly enough to have the country sliding to an ungracious halt, while councils struggled to clear and grit roads - their task not made any easier by people abandoning cars everywhere.
Here it gave us a very unscientific opportunity to really test the merits of winter tyres. Our control sample wasn't matched - not by a long shot - as the list of vehicles at our disposal included a Ferrari FF, the Range Rover Evoque and the Fortune family Ford Grand C-Max. Interestingly, two of these cars are on winter tyres, the Ferrari on some Pirellis, our Ford Grand C-Max on some Falkens, while the Range Rover made do with non-winter rubber.
I'll not say what brand the Evoque is on as it's not fair, nor relevant, though the Evoque tested had four-wheel drive. So too has the Ferrari, while the Ford makes do with just its front wheels driven. That four-wheel drive does help with traction, as obviously four wheels working are better than just two, but to think it's a cover-all is naive at best, and downright stupid at worst. The Evoque was lost in the snow. Sure it got around a bit better than it might had if it only had front-wheel drive, but stopping remained an issue, it taking forever on the packed snow to come to a standstill, from even the lowest of speeds.
The C-Max got everywhere the Evoque did without any trouble at all, the additional sipes on its Falken winter tyres giving it traction, and crucially braking performance that made the summer-tyred Evoque look a little bit silly. For that reason, and despite being desperate to drive the baby Rangie, Mrs Fortune drove her own car in the horrible conditions, and I used the Ferrari. Seriously, I've been massively sceptical of Ferrari's approach in pushing the FF as some sort of winter special, but on the correct tyres the 660hp machine was unstoppable, getting up the hill to my house on which the bus had stopped on, fearful of driving down it. So a Ferrari is now my unlikely winter car of choice - the only stumbling block being its £240,000 list price - or you could just put winter tyres on anything else...
Kyle Fortune - 31 Jan 2013