Autocar loves nothing more than a good rear-drive motor. But when the weather turns, there’s an unseemly dash for the keys of anything with front-wheel drive.
What looked like heavy snow earlier on Wednesday afternoon hadn’t materialized, but what had fallen was fast turning to ice.
In those conditions, rear-drive cars can become extremely tricky. The night before I drove home in Autocar’s long-term Mercedes E-Class.
A smattering of overnight snow was of no consequence, until I tried to leave a petrol station on the A3 at Roehampton hill.
Although the roads were clear, the pavement wasn’t. It was thick with slushy snow. Unfortunately, I had to sit square on the slush as I attempted to pull out into the fast-moving traffic.
When I thought I had enough space, and tried to accelerate onto the A3, I found I was just sliding slowly and uncontrollably into the road.
This evening I came home in the new (and front-drive) Peugeot 5008 MPV. Getting close to home, I was following a (rear-drive) London Black Cab down a narrow, downhill, street.
I could see the ice was forming on the clear parts of the road surface. Suddenly the cab slipped sideways and smacked into an Astra – a door-to-door impact – leaving a nasty gouge in the Vauxhall.
Its unexpected moments like those – on what seems like ignorable dustings of snow – that render rear-drive cars so tricky.
So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by last night’s winter scene at the Autocar offices.
I was the last to leave and was greeted by the well stocked Autocar and What Car? parking bays.
Thanks to the weather, two Mercedes E-classes, a BMW 5 GT, a Jaguar XFR and even a Mercedes C63 estate had all been left snow-covered and idle.
Autocar’s Matt Saunders had braved the weather and headed home in an Audi R8. Mind you, that does have four-wheel drive.