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« Upholders do climate sensitivity. Badly. | Main | Efficiency gains in the Marcellus »
Monday
May132013

The word spreads

In the current edition of The Field (not online), motoring correspondent (and occasional BH commenter) Charlie Flindt is reviewing the latest Chelsea tractor from Mazda:

It’s funny how the world goes round. Not many years ago, four-wheel-drives were the most evil machines on the road, the spawn of the devil. The once-powerful Global Warming fraternity made it clear that such machines were redundant. Snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”, Dr David Viner, of the  University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, told the Independent. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is.” So to own a four-wheel-drive was to invite scorn, ridicule or worse from Prius-owning, yoghurt-wearing, muesli-knitters. How things have changed. Snow is regular, as well as crisp and even. The supplements bulge with adverts for fourwheel-drive cars – a well-known German car maker, famous for its obsession with rear-wheeldrive, ran a series of ads over the winter pointing out that many of its models had four-wheel-drive. Small comfort for those who may have spent 60 grand on a machine that spins impotently at the bottom of a snowy slope – a sign of the meteorological times.

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Reader Comments (51)

They would be even more popular if the doubling of the road tax due to environmental concerns was removed. How about kick starting the economy and increasing landy sales.

May 13, 2013 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Perhaps Viner now spends his time visiting infant schools, describing to young children what a hot, dry summer is like.

May 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

OT: It appears that our own Department of Education uses even more flaky statistical survey methodology than the Lew and Cook brigade.

Details of surveys underpinning Michael Gove's assertion in Mail on Sunday re teenagers' lack of historical knowledge.

May 13, 2013 at 5:20 PM | Registered Commentersteveta

How splendid- the Department of Education can't do apostrophes- or should I write that as apostrophe's.

May 13, 2013 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

I am not sure that there is a need for 4 wheel drive vehicles in England, and even in Scotland and Wales the case is moot. Having lived in Scandinavia for several years, I should point out that most drivers make do with 2 wheel drive, without any significant problems, although, of course, they do fit studded tires.

About 15 years ago, I was living in Norway and had an Audi Quattro (like the 1980s rally car). In the winter I used to fit studded tyres on it. Always behaved faultlessly; the ability to brake in a straight line was very impressive. Some years later, studded tyres in cities were banned since they do serious damage to the road when there is insufficient snow or ice.

No need for expensive 4 wheel drive, one can save a lot of money by simply investing in a set of winter tyres.

May 13, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

I'd love to fit winter tyres, but failed to notice when we bought the current German rear wheel drive sports car that it had runflats, and they're rather wide too. Useless in the snow, and a set of winter tyres would beggar us. We make do with entertaining the neighbours by trying to reverse it up the slight incline to the cleared road, or warming up by clearing the road for it.

May 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Thanks for posting this, AM.

A quick bit of info about The Field, for those who (unforgivably) haven't heard of us. We've been covering politically incorrect country matters (hunting/shooting/fishing) for 160 years now - although we do write about other stuff: a very early issue featured reports on the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Having one foot thoroughly stuck in the last century (or is it the one before?) explains why we're not comprehensively online - most of our readers haven't heard of the Internet. Or computers. Or electricity.

And trust me, Richard Verney: our lifestyles mean 4wd is essential.

May 13, 2013 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

"that spins impotently at the bottom of a snowy slope"

Or a muddy one. Our village school car park used to be a small field, conspicuous for its lack of grip in the winter, and mostly avoided by 2WD's when wet. We had several Chelsea tractor owners, who thought that 4WD rendered them immune and discovered the truth too late - the only ones who never got stuck were the owners of a Suzuki jeep, which had the necessary lightness, traction and ground clearance. The CT owner's children would also bring mud into the vehicle, for which they were also not designed.

In fact, it's hard to know what they're for, really - the original Range Rover, for instance, was quite practical, but the current ones are just silly.

May 13, 2013 at 6:39 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

@richard verney

Thought all Audi Quattros were 4wd - hence the name. Mine is anyway. Am I missing the point?

May 13, 2013 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeA

keep it up, Cgarlie Flindt, keep it up!

May 13, 2013 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Castle

I fear I cannot join in the universal approbation for Chelsea Tractors.

Here, in leafy Surrey, there seems to be a golden rule..the shorter the journey, the more need for large lumbering big cars to clog our narrow and congested roads.

And I imagine there is little need for all the fancy drive train gubbins on the half mile trek to drop junior at his prep school - or to do the shopping in Waitrose.

That such things are being actovely advertised may well be another welcome sign of the death of the CAGW myth among the populace, but not every bit of news is universally good. More CTs on our roads would definitely be a backward step IMO.

May 13, 2013 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Richard Verney - I live in the Highlands and just about everyone who has to get somewhere when they need to has a 4 wheel drive - with winter tyres. The chances are the public roads (well the A and some of the B roads) will be gritted, but many people live in houses beside C roads or farm tracks and a 4WD is essential for them. I use an old permanent 4 wheel drive Subaru Legacy with winter tyres (which stay on from early Nov to late May). e.g. came back from Ardnamurchan last night, passed three different gritters in action (in Highland, Argyll and Stirling) between there and Perthshire. New snow on mountains also, down to 2000 feet. I like cold winters but I have had enough of this one.

May 13, 2013 at 7:05 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

We had a nice cheap Suzuki Samurai. We did a roaring trade hauling the jeeps, landrovers and the various incarnations of Chelsea Tractors out of the soft sand in Rock. Tow hitch and winch front and back. Can't beat cheap and cheerful.

May 13, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

To be fair, the Mazda CX-5 isn't really a Chelsea tractor - it a big estate with 4wd. Very nice it was too.

I was on the launch on the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid - bonkers concept, bonkers car. The day trip to show us hacks how 'environmentally friendly' it was involved a rush hour slog along the M27 from the bijou hotel in the New Forest to Goodwood, where we spent the rest of the day racing round the track! I had a Bateman moment at dinner the night before. At my table were assorted Porsche Magazine fanatics, who spent the bulk of the evening debating the significance of the size of the fuel tank in the nineteen fifty-something Le Mans winnerzzzzzzz. Sorry - where was I? Oh yes. Anyway, at one stage, Mr Porsche GB was telling us that buyers of the Cayenne would have access to a training ground where they could use their massive off-roaders in thier 'natural environment'. "That's a clever idea" I said. "Have you built a mock-up of a narrow lane outside a primary school?" Deathly silence.


I haven't been asked to any Porsche launches since.......

May 13, 2013 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

@Charlie Flindt

Re Porsche launch

Classic, absolute classic :-)

May 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSunderlandSteve

@Charlie Flindt 6:34.

Because I don't accept the AGW meme it doesn't mean I enjoy aligning myself with people who torture animals for fun. I suppose this battle is so important that we have to operate as a "broad church" sad though it is.

May 13, 2013 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Moran

OT Bish, sorry but couldn't resist. Betts on the efficacy of his model.

Predictable after the event. Ask him to do as challenged and make a forecast for 10 yrs ahead and put his job where his mouth is.


Richard Betts ‏@richardabetts 4 h
‏MT @ed_hawkins Recent global temperature hiatus was partially predictable due to additional ocean heat uptake

May 13, 2013 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

So to own a four-wheel-drive was to invite scorn, ridicule or worse from Prius-owning, yoghurt-wearing, muesli-knitters.

The demonization of the Prius owners is just as bad as the 4x4 drivers. I'm a skeptic by heart and own a Prius, because of the huge tax break, the quiet ride, the mileage, space and quality, not because it's "green" as I think it's not that green at all. So the writer should stop doing himself what he's accusing the other side.

May 13, 2013 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

PS: FWIW my former cars included 4x4's such as Merc ML, BMW X5, Range Rover (a quality disaster) and VW Touareg. Unfortunately my retirement forced me to look for a more modest car.

May 13, 2013 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoi Polloi

Ed Moran,
It's not all fun and games in the country. I try to get my kids out in the fresh air to learn city skills like ram raiding and happy slapping.

May 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

@Charlie Flindt

'"Have you built a mock-up of a narrow lane outside a primary school?"

... a man after my own heart.

Wish I'd thought of that :-)

May 13, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"Recent global temperature hiatus was partially predictable due to additional ocean heat uptake"

A prediction can be before or after the event. Since MO can only predict after the event, this is considered "partially predictable".

QED

May 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Have they finally found Travesty Trenbeths missing heat?

Mailman

May 13, 2013 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

@Alan Reed 8:16.

Good one! Made me laugh.

BTW I am also qualified in aggressive jay-walking and tyre burning of speed cameras. If you need any urban-living-tuition for the kids please don't hesitate to get in touch.

May 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Moran

Nice one Charlie, it's always good to start the day with a laugh.

lapogus: ditto. A Subaru Legacy with winter tyres gets me where I want to go and we've had more than 16 metres of snow each of the past two winters. That's at the heavy-snow end for Tohoku, but not exceptional. All the mainstream models in Japan (Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic etc.) come with an AWD option which most people choose. Winter tyres are used universally. No need for anything big, thirsty or cumbersome.

May 13, 2013 at 9:43 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

I am not sure that there is a need for 4 wheel drive vehicles in England, and even in Scotland and Wales the case is moot.

Really, I'll take the country lanes, dirt tracks, mud, gravel, dodgy verges, fresh air, miles of peace and solitude in the middle of rolling countryside, and that's just taking young un to school in a safe reliable vehicle that can respond to all conditions summer floods and winter drifts. See me smile, cityboy....

May 13, 2013 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

The key point with 4WDs, as several posters have mentioned, is that they are only as good as the tyres. Big alloys with low profile rubber may add to the bling factor but are about as useful as a chocolate teapot on anything remotely challenging.
A few months back Autocar compared 2WD and 4WD variants of the same vehicle - Skoda Yeti - with the 4WD on normal tyres and the 2WD on winters. In a brake test from 30 mph the 4WD took roughly 2 car lengths more to stop. Other such comparisons have shown the same results.
Buying winter tyres for a 2WD costs less than the premium for a 4WD version and it is cheaper to run.
Lastly winter tyres perform better as soon as the temp drops below 7 degC (a good part of the year, even in the south) and resist aquaplaning better.
In leafy Surrey I use winter tyres from December to April (ish).
But when were car buyers ever logical?
OK, rant over!

May 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

No need for C roads or country lanes - I went 4x4 after the severe winter 3 years ago; I live on a housing estate and the Council simply announced that they didn't have the resources to plough and grit anything but main roads for two weeks.
When challenged they claimed that increasing the resources would mean inevitable cuts to elderly services etc. rather than the million pounds they had spent on public art in the preceding year.

May 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Aha!
Street cred and lane cred!

May 13, 2013 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

While we are talking about motoring, the DFT released its Quarterly Road Traffic Estimates on the 9th May and things are not following the script. According to the 1989 traffic forecasts, vehicle miles should have hit 370bn by 2011 and be soaring away to 402bn by 2016. These forecasts were revised downwards in 1997 to 350bn for 2011 and 378bn for 2016.

You wont be terribly surprised to discover that the actual vehicle mileage for 2011 was 303bn with the current 12 month moving average standing at 301bn and dropping

Here is the graph showing those forecasts vs the actuals

So how did the DFT choose to present this fall in traffic? They chose this graph

At first glance it shows a truly cataclysmic increase in traffic and I must say that thats what prompted me to dig into the stats above. Finally I twigged that the huge red line increase was actually representing the percentage growth in light van traffic. Notice the remarkably similar colour used for the cars and the light vans. Given that there are only four different lines to plot here, I'd say that this was an extremely unwise choice of colours.Some might say that a hockey stick was demanded and a hockey stick was produced!

The DFT clearly does not want to believe that the UK's falling traffic is ongoing and has penned a press release blaming the falling traffic on the weather

Going back to the flawed forecast from 1997 (see here ), that was the year when 'The Road Traffic Reduction Bill - drafted and promoted by Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru' - became law


And one more thing....the traffic forecasts are the result of sophisticated computer models

[wording altered to "downwards" as requested below. BH]

May 13, 2013 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered Commentersmallbiz

Please change upwards to downwards - thanks [Done at 8.10am, 13.5.13. BH]

May 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered Commentersmallbiz

Charlie Flindt, with your sense of humour, your farming backgroundand general nous, you would be an excellent fit here in parts of NZ. The more opulent 4WDs are known here as 'Remuera tractors' as Remuera in suburban Auckland is the Kiwi equivalent of Chelsea. While I have spent large chunks of my time driving off-road in the UK and here in NZ, an elderly and very second-hand Subaru Legacy in each country kept/keeps me mobile. I have, on occasion, enjoyed the admittedly very juvenile pleasure of driving past much more expensive £WDs waiting to be towed from snow and/or mud.
The car parks for fee-paying parents at the more up-market schools here in NZ usually contain a high proportion of high-spec 4WDs which rarely get driven off all-weather roads and make the school run times very frustrating indeed.
As a long-time petrol-head, I have to admit a fondness for the more up-market versions of the Toyota Landcruiser, descended from the fairly primitive WWII Chevrolet 4X4; the Toyota 4WDs tolerate huge abuse and seem to last far better than the trendier and more exotic European and American 4WDs.

May 13, 2013 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

There's no need to spend a fortune on a decent 4WD.

My wife's Ford Ranger is easily the best vehicle we've owned. Cheap as chips, comfortable, a true offroader, but pretty economical and taxed as a commercial vehicle. The only issue was finding an insurance company that knew what a Ranger was. :-)

Now we've moved out to the middle of nowhere (A roads? What are those?) I'm considering trading in my Focus ST - bought when I was doing a lot of motorway driving - for a classic Land Rover. Ex Army surplus ones go for less than £10K.

May 13, 2013 at 11:06 PM | Registered Commenterthrog

Richard V.- I appreciate and admire most of your contributions but, I suggest, your inclusion of Wales in your comment suggests a lack of familiarity with our topography!
In Rhondda, for example, terraced houses are either steeply above or below the gritted main road.
Even a minor fall of snow plus ice cancelled a day's surgery.
Very few can afford 4WD and of course the roads are too narrow.-:)

May 14, 2013 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

The key point with 4WDs, as several posters have mentioned, is that they are only as good as the tyres.

Seconding MikeH.

For those who have never used them, winter tyres are a revelation. Not just in snow but all winter conditions. Most sane drivers never get anywhere near the limits of perfomance of tyres. Yet on ice or even light snow you may be at or around the limit for extended periods. Anecdotally, I'd say you get double the grip. That was confirmed to me when the Torygraph reported about a 50% improvement in grip using Porche's winter simulator. It's not just about about getting going either. Cornering and braking, especially braking benefit just as much. The cost of an extra set of wheels and tyres is trivial compared to the safety benefit, particularly if you keep your car long enough to replace the tyres 2-3 times.

May 14, 2013 at 12:24 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

I just love the humour Mr Flindt pours into every post and admire the dogged determination displayed as he keeps chipping away at the manufactured Grotesquery called CAGW.
PS Is it true, Charlie, that you rarely sleep but employ knapping instead?
PPS I'll get me coat!

May 14, 2013 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Oh noooo... "denier" stereotype... another Subaru driver here.

I bought it because the extra ride height will come in useful for when the ice caps melt...

May 14, 2013 at 6:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Alexander K - thanks for those kind words. Funny thing: I found I did fit in in New Zealand - three months spent hitchhiking back in 1981. In fact, I think I left my soul out there. Keep an eye open for it, would you?

May 14, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

9:30 PM | Ed Moran
Priceless SOH! One man's meat is another man's poisson.

7:28 AM | Charlie Flindt
About the same time I was fishing the magical Tongariro river and Lake Taupo.

A 4WD is also essential at times in the Southern Uplands, especially when it snows, sleets and hails as it did here yesterday.

May 14, 2013 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Err.......?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/20/uk-snow-global-warming

May 14, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Jiminy

"denier stereotype", maybe. Perhaps it is that some of us prefer to make our own decisions and take responsibility, while others need nanny and the taxpayer to pull them out of the shit.

May 14, 2013 at 10:33 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

Sorry Hector I was just commenting that with three Subaru drivers on the thread, it must mean that the car of choice for a "denier" is a Subaru.

Maybe Subaru is the antithesis of "Prius/2CV/VW running on cooking fat"?

May 14, 2013 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

The key point with 4WDs, as several posters have mentioned, is that they are only as good as the tyres. Big alloys with low profile rubber may add to the bling factor but are about as useful as a chocolate teapot on anything remotely challenging.
A few months back Autocar compared 2WD and 4WD variants of the same vehicle - Skoda Yeti - with the 4WD on normal tyres and the 2WD on winters. In a brake test from 30 mph the 4WD took roughly 2 car lengths more to stop. Other such comparisons have shown the same results.
Buying winter tyres for a 2WD costs less than the premium for a 4WD version and it is cheaper to run.
Lastly winter tyres perform better as soon as the temp drops below 7 degC (a good part of the year, even in the south) and resist aquaplaning better.
In leafy Surrey I use winter tyres from December to April (ish).
But when were car buyers ever logical?
OK, rant over!
May 13, 2013 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered Commenter MikeH

Mike you are right that winter tyres perform better than standard tyres at low temps, but in braking tests whether it's a 4wd or 2wd is immaterial.

In fact my Land Rover is trickier to stop in the snow than my wife's Golf, even wearing the same tyres, simply because it is heavier. Both have ABS and 4WD doesn't come into play in braking.

But if you are trying to drive forward on an icy surface, especially if it is uphill, there is absolutely no competition. The LR wins hands down, whatever tyres they have on. Slip / open diff kills the 2wd.

May 14, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

Sorry Jiminy. That wasn't meant as a criticism, rather a pass. Being cryptic is a failure of mine.

I maintain a house, two shops and a factory. We also need to service food fairs all over Japan I need a vehicle which carry a full load of tools or food and can take a long load on the roof rack. It needs to be able to cruise at high speed for long distances, as well as deal with 16 metres winter snowfall.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) night, the memsahib and I are off to tropical Thailand for a holiday to escape the Globull Worming. It's six hours drive to Narita and an early flight, so we'll be kipping overnight in the back of the car.

Our Subaru Legacy Wagon is a normal sized car which meets all of these needs with a minimal footprint. It's also a hoot to drive on an open mountain road when the force is with me. Oh Yes.

May 14, 2013 at 11:50 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

Yes Hector, mine's a Forester (the Turbo version :) )

12 years old, and touching wood, basically indestructible. The kids love it and do not want me to sell it.

Served every purpose on Central European roads in every season in every weather and at every speed - a true environmentally friendly car.

And as you say, when you are in the mood a true drivers car...

May 14, 2013 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Jiminy, I've got a brand new Forester arriving tomorrow for testing....

Out here in t'countryside, if we hear the distinctive thrum of a flat four going past the farmhouse any time after about nine pm, we ring the police first to get back-up, then set off with a heavy heart - and a certain amount of trepidation - to try and persuade the burly gentlemen of the travelling community to stop driving across our crops, and ask if they wouldn't mind leaving our tools/batteries/welding kit/diesel/dogs behind, although we are fully aware that they have special Yuman Rights to help themselves to them. Or so it seems..

These gentlemen also love their (untaxed and uninsured) Legacys and Foresters.

May 14, 2013 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

Charlie, nice to see things have moved on from a Mark II Cortina.

Maybe Subaru are missing a marketing trick? Rather than some middle-class nuclear couple pretending to escape from it all, have a car endorsed by Traveller's. Is there an equivalent Traveller publication to The Field? Perhaps called Our Field (and I have two Doberman's to prove it). They could review it.

Subaru are actually their own worse enemy. They give you little reason to change every 4 years. This new version is the only version that has had me tempted. As to some degree they have solved the economy issue.

So I am tempted.

May 14, 2013 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Charlie, if I come across your soul out on the Central Plateau or somewhere similar, I shall wrap it carefully and post it to you care of your august farming publication.
On the matter of Subarus, since returning from the UK, my wife and I now reside in West Auckland where the make is incredibly popular; I can now claim the social status of being a 'Proper Westie' since purchasing a fairly tatty but essentially sound 2.5 litre Legacy as our essential second car. The chap who services it for me is very switched on and showed me how to switch off the permanent 4WD (in the interests of fuel economy) by inserting a fuse in the appropriate place - this has made no difference to how it feels on the road and the fuel bill is now considerably less!.
In the early morning we can hear the throb of Subarus (plus a few big-inch American and Australian V8s and the odd Ducati and Harley) queuing for access to the nearby Western Motorway. Our morning symphony, with a couple of nearby Tuis adding their solos, is a lovely sound that reminds us how nice it is to be of a pensionable age.

May 15, 2013 at 12:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

May 13, 2013 at 6:45 PM | MikeA
///////////////////////

You are right, it is a 4 wheel drive car (turbo charged 2.2 litre, first generation turbo with plenty of lag).

My point is that having lived in Norway and Sweden, which are very snowy and icy countries in the winter, most of the population make do with 2 wheel drive. 2 wheel drive cars are perfectly OK in snow if fitted with winter tyres. Winter tyres are usually smaller width, softer rubber and wider and deeper block patterns.

I have driven in Norway with a front wheel wheel drive car in the middle of June in places where the snow at the side of major roads is still about 10 feet thick (if not more since I recall taking a photo of a cottage, a couple of hundred metres from the road, where one could only just see the very top pitch of the roof and chimney emerging out of the snow - that cottage could only have been snow free in July and August). Sometimes (not normally in June) those roads are closed and you have to wait for snow ploughs and one has to follow those, or otherwise wait for the road to re-open.

The first time I lived in Norway, studded tyres (metal spiked) were allowed. Later when I once more lived in Norway, studded tyres were not allowed in major cities because of the damage they inflict on roads. I think that they were still allowed in rural areas. Most people (and this applies to Sweden where I have also lived) however, simply use winter tyres without significant problems.

The major tyre manufacturers make specific winter tyres, or M&S tyres (Mud and Snow) tyres. I have an old Lancia that has 3 sets of tyres (P Zero slicks, M&S, and ordinary road tyres). Unfortunately, it is not road legal to use the P Zeros even on dry sunny days, although the grip these give is far superior than the normal road tyres. The M&S tyres are a compromise size/compound not quite matching the performance of specialized winter snow tyres, but not too short of these. They are far superior to normal road tyres in wintery conditions.

The point I was making is that the Chelsea tractor is not really necessary in England, even in the more snowy winters of late. It may be that in more mountainess remote areas in Scotland and Wales, there is a need for such vehicles but even there I am sceptical. A good set of winter tyres is all that is needed, and these cost a damn sight less than 4 wheel drive Chelsea tractor.

I am not one of those who consider that Chelsea tractors should be banned. I am a libertarian and believe in freedom of choice. It is just that I do not accept that in England there is a need for such a vehicle. They may be a convenience else where, after all it takes about 1/2 hour to change from summer to winter tyres. One would not wish to do that every day, but it is not much of a chore once, or twice, a season

If the winters in England are going to get more snowy and if Councils do not get on top of gritting, then investing in a set of winter tyres could be sensible.

May 15, 2013 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

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