In Britain, at the slightest hint of snow, roads grind to a halt and inexperienced drivers slither and slide all over the place. Of course, it's not all their fault - it's a combination of no real training in how to drive in snow, cars with fashionably wide but consequently useless tyres, and front-wheel-drive. Now, it turns out that the Insignia is very good in the snow, with the traction control working feverishly to keep things moving, but as I live on a hill, on an estate that's rarely gritted and is 12 miles from work it can be a journey fraught with danger and even the best TC system is usually defeated by our estate. With the arrival of a generous helping of the white stuff on Friday (as you can see in the video, it wasn't nice on the 483), and in the interests of self-preservation the Siggy was parked up, the used car pitch was raided and a Mokka 1.4Turbo 4x4 was purloined - this would ensure that a) I could actually get home and, b) we could get back to work to open up on Saturday morning.
Friday night, and 4wd kicks in just to get off the used car pitch and up the ramp to our car park. On the A483 there's no need, as the electronics sense that the road is ok for front wheel drive only. Hope, however, is a different story - as we queue to join the main road at the T-junction the two front drivers ahead of us are struggling for traction and taking an age to scrabble out... the Mokka pulls up to the line, I check the road's clear and we pull cleanly away, no fuss, no drama and nothing for the driver to do to make it so - the transition from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive is only recognisable by a very slight 'shimmy' from the back as the rear wheels bite and push us forward. When we're up & rolling the system reverts to 2wd as soon as it senses adequate grip - and again, it's imperceptible.
Now, the true test... Buckley. We live in an estate that's on a hill, and my drive slopes down to the road. To begin with, we're sitting at the bottom of the hill while the 2wd boys slither and skate their way up very slowly with a flurry of wheelspin and traction control... the air is heavy with the smell of burnt clutch and hot brakes (most TC systems use the ABS sensors and brakes to apply the traction control). When it's my turn, again, we pull smoothly away and set off up the hill... only to have to stop as a car appears at the top and rather rudely begins his descent - the prudent approach is to move over and let him creep down. So we're now halfway up the slope, in deep snow at the side of the road. A front-wheel drive car would not cope well but again the Mokka excels, admittedly using its 4wd but calmly moving forward. Now, to reverse up the drive - more of a struggle, but with a bit of all four wheels spinning we're up, handbrake on, sorted... until the car slides gracefully back down into the road with all wheels locked! Nothing 4wd could do to stop that so it's out with the shovel to expose 4 patches of bare tarmac for the wheels to sit on. Done.
Saturday morning. Another faultless display of electronics as the Mighty Mokka made short work of the icy drive to work and the treachourous side roads. And when the front drivers need a run up to tackle the slope into the dealership, the 4x4 system simply drove up, no fuss, no bother. Epic
Sunday. The call was made early - we didn't open for a few reasons: not only was it very unlikely that anyone would venture out to buy a car, if they did they wouldn't have been able to get to us, and our team wouldn't have been able to get there either! The Mokka sat on the drive, collecting snow as it came down all day, non-stop.
Monday. With a predicted thaw and the main roads clear, it was back to work after clearing a spectacular amount of snow off the car. Again, it was the side roads up to the dealership that posed problems, but the Mokka took it in its stride and smoothly, quietly drove in, even managing to defeat the steep slope up to our top car park.