There is not one single thing that is more important for safe winter driving than the shoes on your vehicles feet. Prove it, you say. Okay, we will.
We've already seen today what can happen to a Mazda Miata wearing summer shoes in the middle of winter. This is perhaps one of the greatest reasons why many people with high performance vehicles put their baby away each Fall, and then leave it incubating in their garage until the kiss of Spring brings her back to life.
In the meantime, all the people with 4WD and AWD vehicles are drinking hot cocoa and basking in their supremacy, right? Well, not necessarily. According to the video you are about to witness, the prowess of certain AWD vehicles may be somewhat of a myth.
The luxury of an AWD vehicle may make its acceleration quicker and more predictable. However, did you ever stop to wonder how much the shoes on your automobile's feet matter? Say for instance, if you pitted an AWD Subaru Forester against a E46 generation BMW M3. Which should be able to handle a snowy road better? Let me rephrase that. How about a BMW M3 in winter shoes, and an AWD Subaru Forester in Summer tread?
To recap what we have just seen, summer tires use a tougher rubber compound which unfortunately freezes in the winter, becoming less stable on snow and ice. Winter tires also have a particular tread pattern that is designed to pickup snow and offer better traction. Regardless of whether you have AWD or not, if you are running on summer tread, you are not going to have any control over any snowy terrain.
What is even more interesting is the value a set of tires can have on a vehicle. The typical BMW M3 would be completely handicapped in winter with summer performance tires. However, as this video demonstrates, the softer, grippy winter tires provide excellent traction. So, even with just a set of winter tires alone, a RWD BMW M3 can be made into a completely manageable animal in the snow.
You might be wondering if the same would be true for any vehicle? Well, Auto Express asked this question a few months ago with a pair of Ford Kuga's, and came up with the same conclusion: