Survive winter like an arctic fox with the Changing Lanes winter blog series!

Winter Blog #3: The Cars

I’ve picked some cars with 4×4 that will inspire confidence once the weather turns nasty and the roads turn to mush. They are a mix of budget buys, bourgeois estates, full-on four wheel drive brutes and a few for fun. Just remember that four wheel drive cars are more expensive to buy and more thirsty than their front wheel drive counterparts.

Budget Busting Mud Slayers

Fiat Panda 4×4

Model: 1.3 litre 75bhp diesel

Price: €20,145

If size is not a big concern, then you can’t beat the Panda 4×4. I can’t think of a smaller off-roader except maybe a quad bike but this will still seat four – though legroom is tight in the back and the boot is small. The interior is more durable than plush but it’s still a nice place to sit.  On the road, the Panda is comfortable but the 1.3 diesel lacks a bit of refinement and is a bit noisy  – but it will return a healthy 60mpg. The critics love this car and it has won awards for its off-road ability.

Read my review of the Fiat Panda 4×4

Fiat Panda 4x4

Dacia Duster 4×4

Model: 1.5 dCi 110bhp Signature diesel

Price: €20,190

The budget buster from Romania is the Aldi of cars. You get space, practicality and 4×4 but it is much cheaper to buy than rivals. The trade off is pretty basic, boxy looks, a bland and plasticky cabin and a less than dynamically dazzling drive – but not a bad one. On the top level Signature trim level you get a good deal of equipment. The engine is borrowed from Renault and returns 53mpg to please the economists. It’s rough but ready and the Duster has been a surprising hit in Ireland to date proving that we just love a bargain.

Dacia Duster 4x4

Rough with the Smooth Operators

SKODA Octavia Scout

Model: 2.0 litre TDI 4×4 150bhp diesel

Price: €33,795

Estate cars are cool. Ones with 4×4 ability are even cooler. The new Scout is based on the Octavia Combi (Estate) so it merges it’s smooth and elegant car-like origins with a bit of the rough. The visual clues, like the plastic cladding and the raised ride height, give the Scout a can-do attitude while inside it’s a versatile beast as any with a spacious, well finished cabin and 610 litres of boot space.

SKODA Octavia Scout

Audi A6 Allroad

Model: 3.0TDI 272bhp quattro S-Tronic SE diesel

Price: €69,700

The Audi A6 Allroad is the ultimate status symbol for the wannabe country set. Proving that money can indeed buy you class, the Audi A6 Allroad is a huge, stylish, prestige estate that comes with Audi’s famous quattro four wheel drive, perfect for the odd sojourn down to Wicklow. Tally-ho, off to Avoca we go.

Audi A6 allroad

Snow Queen

Volkswagen Golf R

Model: 2.0TSI 300bhp 4MOTION

Price: €43,465

Ok, so the obvious signs of hardiness are not there; there is no raised ride height, no plastic cladding (thankfully!) but it’s on my list because it’s got four wheel drive and it’s awesome. It’s sexy, it’s super fast and the four wheel drive is not for off-road adventures, but for keeping it grippy and glued to the road as you pound it around a track. It’s pricey but look what you get – a practical, refined, luxurious and super sporty hatch.

winter car care tips

Bog Snorkelling Brute

Land Rover Discovery 4

Model: 3.0 litre TDV6 diesel HSE

Price: €87,685

The Land Rover Discovery is the Bear Grylls of 4x4s, it’s no wonder it’s a favourite with search and rescue teams and TV production crews. Sometimes it’s just you against the elements and you need an off-roader that can take you anywhere – across water, up hills, down hills, through mud, snow and everything in between. This is the real thing. It’s super luxurious to boot, there’s seven seats, loads of space and Land Rover’s Terrain Response is a gizmo that will make you look seriously hot at off-roading.

Land Rover Discovery


Caroline Kidd