• Snow has recently fallen in some parts of South Africa again.
• We list five different vehicles good for snow driving.
• There's a vehicle available for all budgets.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
South Africa has seen a bout of unusually heavy snowfall in certain parts of the country.
Here is a selection of affordable and premium vehicles that are sure to get you through any snow terrain – and back home again.
Mahindra Thar soft-top
If you want to go snow driving in a South African mountain range on the cheap, there is nothing quite like the first-generation Thar.
Incredibly affordable, if crude, the soft-top Thar isn't comfortable or refined. It's best to bring along earphones or earplugs to drown out the noise when you are cruising along. But in an off-road environment, it is excellent.
A robust ladder-frame chassis and Borg Warner low-range transfer case mean you can scale the steepest inclines. The 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine is low on power, with only 78kW, but the crawler gear ratio of 2:48 makes the best of its 247Nm of torque.
The Thar also rolls high-volume 235/70/16 tyres, which allow for excellent flotation and traction properties, when driving in sand or snow.
Highly regarded for its off-road ability, the fourth-generation Jimny is another great compact snow driving vehicle. Unlike most light-duty SUV and crossover rivals, the Jimny has a proper centre-differential four-wheel drive system with low-range, instead of a clutch pack.
Relatively linear power delivery from its 1.5-litre petrol engine and low mass make the Jimny a very effective tool in the snowy terrain.
The fourth-generation Jimny also has traction control, which can be useful on iced roads.
Image: Wheels24/Warren Wilson
Subaru Forester 2.0
Have you ever wondered why Subaru is so popular in America and Canada? It's not because most American or Canadian car buyers are huge WRC fans. But on the upper eastern part of North America, severe winter snowstorms are a reality, making for potentially lethal driving conditions.
Subaru has developed a loyal North American customer following by proving itself on the worst possible roads during winter blizzards. The Japanese company's proven all-wheel drive systems and Forester's relatively low centre of gravity make it confidence-inspiring to drive in tricky snow conditions.
If you want a snow capable vehicle that isn't an overly high-riding SUV, the Forester is your answer.
Land Rover Discovery
R1 080 000
The new Defender might be garnering all the attention, but the Discovery remains a compelling luxury SUV with true 4x4 ability. You get an overengineered platform, which is good enough for Land Rover to also build its premium Range Rover models on.
Although most modern 4x4s are exhaustively tested in all terrain types and weather conditions, there is an inherent advantage to having staff who are experienced in snow as your engineers. And the United Kingdom has its fair allocation of awful winter weather.
British conditions inspired Land Rover to develop the Terrain Response system, which makes snow driving desperately easy by calibrating the vehicle's engine, gearbox, differentials and throttle response to the specific slip angles and challenges associated with snow.
Navigating snow-covered terrain is as simple as turning the Terrain Response dial to its snowflake graphic setting and then driving as you usually would.
Land Cruiser 76 4.5 D
No South African snow vehicle driving list would be complete without a Toyota off-roader. If you are going to venture into the country's Lesotho border areas or the wild Maluti backcountry to discover some snow solitude, reliability and capability must be balanced in equal measure.
The Land Cruiser 76 station wagon might be an old-fashioned and unrefined design, but its mechanical simplicity makes for a tremendously durability off-road vehicle. It also features no less than three lockable differentials, which means you can literally crawl your way up a snowy incline with all four wheels turning at the same speed, for optimal traction.
Another benefit the Land Cruiser 76 has for snow driving, is its diesel engine. In extreme cold conditions, diesel engines start and idle more reliably. Without very sophisticated piezo injectors, the Land Cruiser 76's 4.5-litre turbodiesel V8 will run in the harshest conditions, at high throttle inputs, for hours on end.