Winter is here, and with it all the joys of some serious scenic mountain road trips. To make the most of the fresh air up there, you’ll need a metal pack mule that has the stamina, carrying space and comfort to get you up the mountain – with enough steam to bring you safely back down again.
There are all manner of vehicles that can handle tough weather conditions and steep, winding roads; however, a 4×4 is your best bet. So, if you’re not sure what to look for in a 4×4, we’ve outlined our top three picks that will help you start your search for that perfect winter mountaineering companion.
Audi Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro
When you’re taking on a mountain range, you need reliability and exhilarating performance to make the most of those twisting, turning tracks and roads. The Audi Q5 offers both in spades, guaranteeing a smooth but fun drive, hugging the road while turning with ease. It’s got plenty of poke in the engine to see you through steep sections too.
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Volkswagen Touareg 3.0 V6
Volkswagen’s premier 4×4 line includes the all-round star, the Touareg. With a hefty 3 litre V6 engine and automatic transmission to see you through the tricky steep bits without breaking a sweat, you can relax and enjoy the drive.
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Range Rover Sport 4.4 SDV8 Autobiography Dynamic 5 door Auto
If your budget stretches closer to £100k, then Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport 4.4 will not disappoint, as it blends top-notch performance and safety levels with complete comfort. The SDV8 is loaded with luxuries, plus it comes with active anti-roll bars, which means it handles better than most other Sports.
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We hope that this short roundup will start you off on the right track to find the best 4×4 for the mountains. Even with the right car, however, it’s best to bear in mind some other safety tips before making your way up there:
Snow chains: If you’re headed for snowy conditions, take a set of good-quality snow chains from a reputable dealer. They’re easy to apply and will make all the difference in adverse conditions.
Appropriate clothing: Don’t rely on your car’s heating system to keep you warm. Ensure that you have the appropriate clothing to keep out the chill once you’ve left the car.
Torch: Always keep a spare torch in the car if you’re headed for remote locations where the roads are unlikely to have overhead lighting. In a breakdown scenario they can prove invaluable.
Keep a cool head: Always remember to go down a mountain no faster than you can go up it. Resist the temptation to zoom down it and always maintain proper control of the vehicle. If your momentum is building up too quickly, shift down to lower gears rather than relying solely on the brakes.