There’s an almost constant argument among car enthusiasts about which is more important in winter weather: four-wheel drive or winter tires. The answer is both, honestly, as the combination of the two is the most ideal setup for winter driving. However, if you have to choose just one, which is more important? We’ve long argued that winter tires are more far more important, as an all-wheel drive car with summer tires in the winter is about as good as having four ice skates instead of tires. In this new video from Tyre Review, we get to see the difference.
In this test, Tyre Review takes two different BMW X1s, one xDrive all-wheel drive with summer tires and one sDrive front-wheel drive with winter tires and put both cars through a battery of tests in the snow in Finland. The snow on the ground isn’t very high, maybe about an inch, and it seems pretty packed, so it’s actually the easiest sort of snow to drive in. So the advantage of winter tires might not be that vast, right? Wrong.
The first test is a simple 0-50-0 km/h (31 mph), acceleration and braking test. The BMW X1 sDrive/Winter gets off the line far easier than the xDrive/Summer car and ends up finishing its run to 50 km/h and braking back to zero before the xDrive/Summer car even reaches 50 km/h. So a flat-out embarrassment for summer tires here.
Next is just a simple braking test, from 50-0 km/h, to determine how much faster the winter tires brake. This is where the winter tires have their biggest advantage, as the number of driven wheels has literally nothing to do with braking. As you can imagine, the BMW X1 sDrive with winter tires destroys the X1 xDrive here.
Following the braking test is an uphill climb test, where both cars start out at the same time trying to climb a rather easy hill. As predicted, the X1 with winter tires simply walks up the hill with no problem, while the X1 with summer tires takes forever to gain just a few feet and slides backwards while still accelerating.
There are quite a few tests after these, once of which shows the summer tire’d car decapitating a fake elk. All subsequent tests prove the same thing: winter tires are far more important in snow driving than all-wheel drive. So for this winter, get yourself a set of winter tires. They’re important.