Chances are that by the time you read this, you’ll be up to your armpits in snow - a snowmaggedon.
Welcome to the annual scare story courtesy of the Met Office. Who knows? They could be right this year. So far, it has been winter tyre marketing departments that have been the busiest. As we all know, a set of winter tyres is all you need to transform a rear-wheel-drive skideroomobile into something that sticks to the ice.
If you’re after a 4x4, you may well be too late, according to auction firm Manheim, which says prices have surged by an average of more than £1200 (17.6%) since August.
Compared with September last year, the average price of used 4x4s sold by Manheim was up by more than £2400 (41.7%), further indicating that values are rising earlier than in 2014. But we don’t all need the sort of blingy 4x4s that car dealers are bidding for. There are alternatives.
What could be more alternative than a small, light, front-wheel-drive hatch? In the midst of an icy car park, I’ve seen them thrive as Volvos slip and slide. If all you want to do is get to the station and do local shopping, a teeny Daihatsu Cuore will do for a few hundred pounds. There aren’t many around now, though. As an alternative, a Kia Picanto - specifically, a 1.0-litre 2004 example with a fair few miles on the clock for around £800 - is light and simple enough to thrive in slippery conditions.
Or you just get a soft-roader. It will deliver the extra traction when you need it, and if you drive sensibly, your chances of falling off the road are seriously reduced. I’d be more than happy with an old Toyota RAV4, which is almost a 1990s classic. But it might be a bit tired, so better to go for a Honda CR-V. It is the most popular school-run soft-roader, and it’s easy to see why. They are practical and remarkably reliable. A solid £8000 would buy a well-equipped 2008 2.2 i-CDTi ES with a full history. This model also delivers decent 40mpg economy.
Instead of an Audi Quattro, the Subaru Legacy is a stylish estate car. An SE Sports has a long list of standard equipment, and it manages 35mpg overall with the 2.0-litre diesel engine. Eight grand buys a 2011 example with 70,000 miles on the clock - great value.
Finally, there are the old-school 4x4s that will hold their value, be easy to maintain and do a job if you are stuck in the sticks. Yes, I’m talking Series III Land Rovers, of course. They’re noisy, slow and uncomfortable and will probably be rusty, but at least this is an interesting way to tackle the impending snowmaggedon.