Top five cars for all seasons
The British weather is notoriously fickle. All you have do is cast your mind back a couple of days to see first-hand just how extreme it can be, as we went from scorching sun to dreadful downpours in mere hours.
When it comes to choosing a car, this extreme variety of weather can make a hard choice even harder. While you may want a nice soft-top, say the new Fiat Spider 124, you’re quickly faced with the reality that you’ll probably only get to feel the air flowing through your hair 14 days out of 365 (if you’re lucky).
Similarly, you may think that a legit off-roader such as a Toyota Hilux would be perfect for harsh, snow-bitten winters where the roads turn treacherously icy, but then when it comes to summer you’re left driving a tank around town.
This is why we’ve picked five vehicles which, in our opinion, can handle any variety of weather thrown at them. Starting with…
2.0 TDI Ultra 190 Sport 4dr
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Range Rover Evoque Convertible
Looks, drive, handling. When you think of an all-season vehicle this is probably what you’d picture, after all what other vehicle comes primed for summer (soft-top) and winter (4x4) in one complete package? Only Land Rover have had the gall to design and build something so divisive.
The roof is a five-layer fabric fitting, and it leaves the Evoque gloriously refined once it’s up. What’s more, there’s no discernible difference in noise levels between a regular roof and the convertible roof, with raindrops being barely audible, wind noise low and no vibration from the fabric when cruising along.
If that cruise just so happens to take you off-road, then Land Rover’s four-wheel drive history comes to the fore. Despite the road tyres fitted to the test car, it made mincemeat of a forest track and grassy hill when we reviewed it. What’s more, the 4x4 system is standard. Rain or shine, this car is ready for both.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
If you’re economically minded but need something that can take the rough with the smooth all year round then look no further.
PHEV stands for ‘Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle’ and depending on which derivative of the Outlander you lease it can be driven in a variety of modes - Pure EV, Series Hybrid and Parallel Hybrid.
Pure EV mode powers the wheels directly from the electric motor and the vehicle can be driven at speeds of up to 74mph. Series Hybrid mode activates when the battery charge is low or when more power is required for accelerating quickly - in this mode the engine runs to charge the battery, which provides power to the wheels. In Parallel Hybrid mode the engine drives the wheels directly, which activates when the battery is empty or the car is driven above 74mph.
If all this has confused you, then you’ll be happy to know the PHEV will automatically select the optimum drive mode for you, ensuring that you not only get superior fuel efficiency but optimal comfort on the road.
Aside from all that, around town the suspension set-up ensures a comfortable ride no matter what the roads throw at it. As you’d expect then, the PHEV is more than competent off-road and in low-grip situations – this is thanks to the four-wheel drive electric motors which provide maximum torque throughout the rev range. Add to that the fact there’s nearly 2m of ground clearance and 4m of wading depth and no matter what weather-system is thrown at it this hybrid will get you where you need to go.
Practical, stylish, a little overwhelming, the Volvo XC60 is all these things and more. Though those looking for a mid-size SUV are more liable to look towards a Nissan Qashqai or a Kia Sportage, opting for something a bit more premium can offer a bit more comfort – whether that means air-con blasting in summer or a heated steering wheel in winter.
Although the XC60 professes to be a high-riding SUV, it has the road manners of a normal-sized family car meaning its suitable for anyone to drive - the body roll is kept well in check and there’s lots of grip, so the XC60 will hang on in there after most normal hatchbacks have started to get jumpy.
And by choosing a model with four-wheel drive, you get 2.3m of ground clearance and hill descent control. This makes it better equipped for any form of nasty weather no matter what type of land you have to cross.
Skoda Octavia vRS 4x4
If an SUV or crossover-style body is resolutely not for you, then these next two choices are great all-weather cars with none of the bulk.
Now, chances are the Octavia vRS would be low down on your list when you think of an all-weather car. But having shown the world that speed, practicality and diesel power can all be mixed into one package, with the addition of 4x4 to the model it arguably became the total package all-weather vehicle.
Some might argue that four-wheel-drive is pointless in the vRS, but you’ll be thankful that the power does go to all four corners when you need it. Fair enough, most of the time you won’t notice the difference, but the added security makes the vRS 4x4 the most versatile model in its class and a sensible choice for any all-weather car.
Audi A4 Allroad
Like its stablemate above, the Audi A4 Allroad is a great choice for people who don’t necessarily want the size and bulk of an SUV but do want to retain the advantages of a higher ride height and handling. As such it bridges the gap perfectly between estate and crossover.
As you’d expect, the A4 Allroad feels very much like your standard A4, meaning quality and refinement come in bucket loads. The Quattro four-wheel drive system also means that none of the power is wasted in the dry and makes for confident handling in the wet, what’s more the softer springs and higher-profile tyres mean that comfort is prioritised over agility.
Comfort, quality, Quattro. What more could you want?