How to get a grip this winter: is an SUV the answer?

 

Due to coronavirus, many of us will be driving less than usual this winter. However, maintaining a good grip on the road is as important as ever, so it's natural to look for ways to improve traction.

 

Perhaps one of the most attractive options is buying a SUV or 4x4. These all-wheel-drive machines have been purpose-built for off-road conditions, so they must be ideal for when the road gets covered in ice and slush, right?

 

While SUVs are great for off-road conditions, they are a rather expensive option when compared to, say, winter tyres - and might not be the best option in terms of good grip.

 

What are winter tyres?

Winter tyres are specially developed to cope with temperatures below 7 degrees. They are made of special compounds and feature extra-grippy treads - helping to keep you on the road even in the iciest of situations. Their grooves are deeper, their cuts are narrower - and their compound is softer, all of which results in considerably better traction than summer tyres.

 

How much are winter tyres?

Generally speaking, winter tyres cost about the same as regular/summer tyres. However, tyres from big brands like Michelin and Continental will cost more than a budget alternative. Independent research points to big-brand winter tyres offering more traction than cheaper options.

 

Justifying the cost

Winter tyres represent a significant outlay, but in the long term you'll be paying about the same for your tyres; swapping out summer tyres for winter tyres simply means both sets of tyres will last twice as long.

 

Is an SUV safer?

There's no denying spending a few hundred pounds on winter tyres is vastly cheaper than buying an SUV. However, SUV safety features are a considerable draw. Studies suggest that you're 50% more likely to survive a collision without injuries in an SUV compared to saloon. However, it is accepted that a regular car with winter tyres is far safer in icy conditions than an SUV fitted with summer tyres.

 

Perhaps the ideal solution, if funds are available, is to fit winter tyres on an SUV. But if budgets are too tight for this, a set of winter tyres could prove invaluable in staying on the road as the cold season descends.