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Grippy Saloons For The Winter

By raccars Published

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If you're concerned about remaining safely on the road over winter but don't want to drive a large SUV, there are a number of all wheel drive saloons which can give you stability at all four wheels, without the extra height or bulk - or budget! Prices for these start from £2,000 and, as the four wheel drive versions tend to come with the hotter engines in the range, all offer plenty of on road fun too.

Jaguar X-Type 3.0

The 2001-2009 X-Type isn't the most prestigious car to wear the big cat badge - it wasn't particularly spacious inside and was rather staid looking, but came with a 3.0 litre V6 and all wheel drive. Performance is discreet but pacey. The X-Type 3.0's understated appearance conceals a very willing 231bhp and helps to keep the price low. You can find a reasonable example from £2,000 but spend a bit more for a top class, low mileage model. Watch out for engine and gearbox faults.

Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec-B

The 2006-2010 Legacy won't turn any heads in the car park but is capable of 150mph and 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds - it's hiding 243bhp under the bonnet. Running costs are pretty high but the Legacy is otherwise a very comfortable car to live with, with plenty of standard kit and tenacious all wheel drive grip. Study the market carefully before laying down any cash - this is a cult favourite but its low profile means dealers can be stuck with them for a while and could be happy to offload for a discount. Expect to pay from £3,500 for a basic model but a full service history will cost more - it could be worth it though, as servicing and repairs are expensive on one of these.

Mazda 6 MPS

Another sleeper, the Mazda 6 is pedestrian looking on the outside, with 256bhp given away only by the beefy twin exhaust and discreet MPS badging. A short production run from 2005-2007 means you'll have to look carefully, but this is a genuine 150mph car with a sub seven second 0-60mph sprint. Watch out for warning lights on the dash and make sure the timing belt was serviced on schedule - that's an expensive job. Prices start below £3,000 but that would be a risky purchase - aim to spend at least £5,000 for peace of mind.

Volkswagen Passat 3.2 R36

Running from 2008-2010, upon launch this was said to be the fastest ever VW. Indeed it's a seriously hot version of the usually sensible Passat, with 296bhp kept just about under control by four wheel drive road holding. With a price tag over £30,000 when new, sales were slow as buyers could buy more badge prestige with an Audi for the same price, which makes the used Passat 3.2 R36 a bargain, full of equipment and still young in years. Prices start at an eminently reasonable £9,000.

Volvo S60 R

The 2003-2007 S60 R also boasts a seriously fast 296bhp from a five cylinder 2.5 litre turbo engine. Its sporty ride is a little harsh and uncultured but there's a lot of room inside and it'll shoot like a bullet down the motorway. Speedy Volvos lack cachet for some reason so there are bargains to be had - if you can find one. You'll be paying from £3,500 upwards but will need to beware of issues with the four wheel drive system and the engine can be a little temperamental. However, that Volvo badge is convincingly sensible and you can be sure you're combining speed with safety.

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