With the cold weather fast approaching, the advantages of owning a four-wheel-drive car are even clearer than ever. However, the segment is larger than ever, too with offerings coming from across the price spectrum. To make choosing one a little easier, we’ve picked three of our favourites, taking into account price and included equipment, among other factors.
The smart choice for saving money – Dacia Duster
The first thing that has to be mentioned about the Duster is the price. For £13,995 you can get a four-wheel-drive, five-seat and 110 horsepower off-road car. Put any other badge on the front and you’d be looking at well over £20,000. The Duster offers an affordable entry into the four-wheel-drive market, and few are as capable over the rough stuff. The diesel engine powers all four wheels through a manual gearbox, and has plenty of torque to take the Duster up even the steepest of inclines.
While the interior doesn’t feature as many toys as those from other manufacturers, the Duster has unashamed simplicity on its side. Since there’s less there, there’s less to go wrong. And at this price, it’s a pretty attractive idea.
The smart choice for value – Suzuki Jimny
In reality, farmers don’t use Land Rover Defenders – they use Suzuki Jimnys. Reliable and trustworthy on even the toughest ground, the Jimny has a short wheelbase and minute track that makes it mountain-goat-like on difficult terrain. A little 1.3-litre petrol engine may not sound like much, but given the Jimny’s low weight it’s more than enough to keep the little off-roader springing along. The low engine size means better fuel economy, too.
For £15,048, you can have a car that deals very well with difficult conditions, but also features alloy wheels, metallic paint and leather seats. You’ll also find air conditioning and tinted windows. The Jimny also benefits from a three-spoke leather steering wheel and electric mirrors. The Jimny is a well-respected off-road car, but with this specification it’s a comfortable place to be, too.
The smart choice for technophiles – Land Rover Discovery
We realise that this is quite the step up from the Duster and the Jimny, but for button pressing there are few better than the Discovery. One of the biggest names in the off-road business, the Discovery offers tremendous off-road capability in a stylish package, with excellent levels of interior equipment and comfort.
We’d go for the HSE model, as it offers the greatest amount equipment for the best price. On the exterior, the HSE features 20-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and a rear view camera to help with reversing – at just under five metres long the Discovery isn’t as easy to park as the other two options in this comparison.
Inside, both driver and passengers are treated to leather seats with heated front seats – these are electrically adjustable, too. Walnut trim finishes off the dashboard, and a timed climate control means that you can set the interior to warm up before you enter it – ideal for chilly mornings.
Powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, there’s more than enough oomph for tackling difficult roads – and a host of on-board safety technology will keep things in check, too.