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Whats the best 4x4 vehicle for the Alps for £5-7k

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
MPG pretty irrelevant. Only matters on the journey down and then back again in spring. Mooching about resort won't clock up enough serious mileage to make it all that important. With that in mind, for under £5k you can pick up mint Mitsubishi Shogun Sports on 2006 plates (3 litre 6 cyl petrols). They're based on pick ups so are a bit rough, very tough, roomy and, according to my pal who swears by his, they are bullet proof (I think the Taleban have some). Otherwise Fiat Panda with a roof box.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
LV for insurance, allowed up to 180 days.
I have a Subaru Legacy, great traction on winter tyres, not too heavy going downhill, fuel economy not great.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Libertine, try Staurt Collins http://www.stuartcollins.com/aboutus.php

We've been insured with them for years and I've recommended them to lots of other people as they offer unlimited European cover for Brit registered vehicles.
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When we lived in the alps we took a Mitsubishi Challenger ( now the shogun sport ) and it was excellent. Never took the chains out of the box the entire season although we did have snow tyres. It was more comfortable than a landrover, lots of space inside, high wheel clearance and extra low gearing. Ours was a 2.5d and i suspect you'd pick one up cheaply, well in budget
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Quote:

a friend of mine who lives in Warwickshire really suffered in the winter before last and was contemplating buying an old cherokee


Really? It's all flat and boring around here!!
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Your current car will be fine if you just fit some good winter tyres and keep a set of snow chains in the boot for occasional use. We ran a Vauxhall Cavalier SRI for 10 years with no problems whatsoever based in Val D'Isere. For all of those years we did not even use winter tyres, due to our budget. Depending on where you are, most main roads get cleared pretty quickly in ski resorts to allow traffic in and out. If you are going to drive a lot while based in a resort then I'd fit some winter tyres simply because they are much safer when conditions are cold for grip and stopping distances, below 8 degrees C I believe. They also provide more traction in snow but are not specifically snow tyres. Snow tyres are for roads with a more permanent snow cover. After our first Cav had clocked up a few hundred thousand miles, we bought another. Currently we run a Toyota Previa diesel in Tignes and apart from the occasional use of snow chains have had no real problems driving around. That said and for safety reasons we have just bought a new set of OEM wheels on which to fit winter tyres for next winter. We are also fans of the Skoda Octavia Scout diesel which has 4wd when needed and will be picking one up for next winter, sticking on winter tyres and it will be our main winter drive for dropping the kids off at gymnastics, shopping trips, airport commutes, day to day life etc. where we have to travel regardless of the conditions.
In winter, before you ascend to the resort, fill up on winter diesel which has a lower freezing temp due to the additives.
Most of the locals in our part of the French Alps just use winter tyres on front wheel drive cars as the standard set up. It's often the peeps coming out for a ski holiday that are driving the big 4wds, which then spend all week in a car park. Most of them don't have winter tyres and it's occasionally quite funny passing them on the switch backs as we trundle by with chains on Laughing

For full annual cover in Europe on a British registered car, with a proper green card, we found that these guys are very difficult to beat: http://www.stuartcollins.com
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Forgot to mention, we also use ADAC for our full annual European breakdown cover which includes the UK.
It's a German company and very efficient wink Approx 97 Euros for my wife and me in any car.

We also found that when we had to renew our car battery a while back that a calcium one and one with a high CCA was worth getting for very cold starts when the car might have been sat for a while. Worth a thought in case you might need to renew it.

When we service the cars, I use a high quality fully synthetic oil for easier cold starts, for the occasional -25C winter morning.
Other bits and bobs worth considering might be heated washer jets, heated seats are nice and roof racks for inter resort trips.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
slowboarder, ADAC is the German equivalent to the AA and RAC.

I've got their "Plus" membership which includes repatriation of me and my car from wherever I am. I've had to use it twice now and found it was amazingly efficient - first time a driver was sent to collect me an my car from St Anton after my shoulder dislocated during race training. The second time they sent a driver and an ambulance after I did my knee in while teaching in the Wildschonau. If I am out of Europe they will also repatriate me from wherever I am.

I had not realised it was open to non-residents, I think I'll get my sister to sign up as she has to take out travel coverage for her and her car each time she comes out here.


Toofy Grin
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Libertine,

Food for thought:

I plumped for a cloth seat Toyota Rav4 5 door version. A 2 seater when skiing is a pain as are leather seats as they will be ruined quickly and you will need a big boot. Likewise, buy something you are happy to lean your skis on and perhaps carve your name into. Carry a good shovel, broom/brush for sweeping snow off the car, and get a good wide rack for your skis/boards and make sure it has locks –not just to prevent opportunistic theft but to ensure that they don’t fly off the rack at speed! (Personal experience Embarassed )

The advice on good M+S tyres is very sound -not worth skimping as you're literally putting your life onto the 4 pads of tyre that touch the ground. I leave mine down there all year as the costs of returning to the UK with fuel, tolls, ferries and wear and tear would total far more than parking and flights, at least in my case. Don't be tempted by the 2WD options, especially if you are not experienced in driving in deep snow, and if the snow is as good as you hope it is, then driving won’t be a picnic. If the roads are clear, dry etc a 2WD would be fine, then you might as well plan to stay in the UK and drive to the snow dome = You can’t have it both ways!

You may wish to consider buying a LHD 4x4 in the UK ASAP (see links http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201033365961812/sort/priceasc/usedcars/price-from/2000/fuel-type/diesel/price-to/8000/radius/200/postcode/rh163ej/page/1/keywords/lhd%2C%204x4?logcode=p

This link above is for dept #73, so if you are skiing around Les Arcs/Tignes region you probably wouldn’t need to import it or re-register it, so no admin hassle.

For importing/driving foreign (UK) vehicles in France see below:
http://france.angloinfo.com/driving/frenchdriving.asp and http://france.angloinfo.com/countries/france/motoregister.asp

My French insurer provides full EU , Swiss and UK breakdown cover for 43€ pa. Used occasionally for flat battery.

When you leave, sell and fly home. Alternatively if you are determined to drive back, a RHD would be your best bet and the cabin height presents no problems driving in France. You get a lot more for your money in RHD here in the UK at the moment. Bear in mind French second hand values are much higher than the UK.

BTW -you haven't mentioned your age? If you are of a certain age SAGA do excellent policies and virtually unlimited EU cover, none of this 90 day rubbish. If you have French plates, then insurance will be a doddle and the NCB system is up to 13 years, but you will need to prove it!

PM and I’ll happily provide more detail on my own experiences.
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Libertine, Forgot to mention; avoid any 4x4 with large wheels/low profile tyres as they lack grip, are costly to replace and tyres will be uber expensive too.

Just seen this on Fleabay http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/56-LHD-RENAULT-KANGOO-1-9-DCI-4X4-DIESEL-45MPG-/280697090083?pt=Automobiles_UK&hash=item415ad9b023 which would be perfect for your needs and would comfortably allow passengers to keep their boots on!
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I have had 4x4s for years , and driven them all in snow.

As others have said the right tyres really matter ; also the 4WD system itself.

Avoid any old fashioned 4x4 that does not have diff locks or some sort of traction control system - such as the Isuzu Trooper - which whilst incredibly well built and reliable only had a limited slip diff which got me stuck in mud and spinning hopelessly in snow.

I agree with allSpyderman, says as to the old Discovery over a Defender. I would go for the Discovery due to it's all round ability , size and resale values. Also keen owners clubs and easy to get spares and independant garages will fix it.

John
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
DB wrote:
Renault also did a Kangoo 4x4 but as others have said you rarely get the chance to really use 4x4.


The local police and fire units have the Kangoo 4x4 but they are really used when they go off road as they have to be able to get anywhere. The new Panda seems ok in 4wd

In 20 years in the Alps I've never had need for a 4x4 although I've seen plenty in ditches. Out of all the mountain folk I know it is only really the people who need a vehicle for work that have 4wd (not the commute but people who drive a car for work).

If it is so bad I can't get somewhere in my car I wouldn't set out in the first place. It is not the uphill but the downhill that is important.

Ground clearance and skinny tires are what you want.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
ADAC Plus breakdown cover is open to UK residents and I believe to any other European residents. Far cheaper than the UK based equivalents.
http://www.adac.de/mitgliedschaft/adac_membership/default.aspx
The web links are set up for German residents though so you have to either email or call them to take out membership and pay by card.

Most seasonaires that we know (in Tignes and Val D'Isere) that have a car usually just make do with their Summer tyres and snow chains for their occasional road trip outside of the resort. The chains come off not too far down the mountain road. We're only picking up a switchable 4wd because we have to drive regularly and are also down a minor road. You don't need an off road type vehicle for most ski resorts. Deep snow on the main mtn roads is only there until the dozer clears it, which is very frequently. If the snow is so deep that cars don't have enough clearance then the road is closed for a short while until it is cleared.
If your accommodation is going to be up some icy mountain track then a 4x4 will be essential.

We looked at loads of options for our next car and decided on the Octavia Scout.
The Panda Cross is quite nice but rare and pricey in the UK. Good resale value though.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
clarky999, he's a bit further south than you I think and there's a gurt big hill between him and work...

to add to earlier comments I am quite dubious about French cars, they're quite fragile and the pot-holed roads in resort really seem to take a toll on them. My family in resort have a 52 VW golf with winter tyres and that seems to survive well- the only time I've struggled in it 4wd wouldn't have helped. we also run two VW minibuses, again with winter tyres (2WD) and not had problems (not that there was snow lying on the roads much last season!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
diff-locks etc should not be needed in snow, in fact can be a bad thing as modern 4x4 can combine the diff-lock with a simultaneous shift to low range, making things too torquey instantly and making the wheels break quicker and start spinning. (my grand cherry gives you 3xtorque when you lock the diffs/set low range - no good in snow)
Traction control switch off on modern cars also a great advantage. So again in the jeep, i can get out of most any spot with traction control off, select manual into 2nd or even 3rd which really keeps your revs in check so not sending too much to the wheels making them break away - that combined with proper tryes, a bit of clearence and terrific-in-the-first-place perm 4wd, then its got me out of and through a few snowy spots (along with the aforementioned gentlemen of the fuzz from a ditch Laughing )

tyres and revs, in that order Cool
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'd rather push a Land Rover than drive a Jeep. Toofy Grin
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Spyderman, and you'd frequently have to Laughing
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
barry, Nope, that's what the RAC is for Toofy Grin
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barry, I beg to differ. Diff locks are essential in that any 2 or 4 WD system without can result in one wheel loosing traction eg on bare ice and then all power goes to that now spinning uselessly wheel and no power to the wheel with grip.

Many vehicles have some sort of hydraulic or oil central diff eg the old Audi Quattro that you do not have to manually engage.. You never know it is there until it comes into use. Now I think very few cars have pure manual locking diffs , I think it is automated in the main eg Discovery 3 , Landcruiser etc.

What you describe ie link diff lock with shifting into low range box seems to me to be taking control away from the driver , and I quite agree re revs down and proper tyres.

John
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
how do landy lovers like the newer traction management or whatever it's called (you know the settings for driving over sand, snow, polo grounds, pedestrians etc.?) .Seems like diff-lock with auto rev control/adjusrtment would be sweet - though it didnt seem to help them two plod I had to tow out Cool

I did a landy day about a year ago (won it after having just sent off for a brouchure!). Chose the range rover for the offroad course, was fantastic (the traction managementt things seemed great if actually not that necessary for what we did, hence my wonderings about thim in snow) - the dude from landrover experience told me that the disco (then the disco3) was by far the most capable off-road of their full range
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alltnaha, exactly what i'm saying really - but maybe it only counts in cars like mine where the diff-lock also equals low range (as in "can be a bad thing"), and yes seems like more modern stuff (in the landies in particular, have a more refined management for the gearing ranges, see my question above re same. FWIW too, I always found audi quattros a tad torquey for the snow too
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Some fun!


http://youtube.com/v/fAg4DdXAp7Y
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
would quite like either of these two as my next bum-around-the-alps car Shocked :


http://www.unicat.net/en/pics/TC52comfort-2.html


http://www.earthroamer.com/tab_xpedition_vehicles/xvlt1_overview.html
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alltnaha, Defender still has fully manual centre diff lock, usable in both high and low range. Traction control is optional, as is front and rear locking diffs. The axle diff lockers are aftermarket, either Detroit type, air or electronic. On Discovery, Freelander and Range Rover, Terrain Response is used which adjusts electronically throttle response, gearbox response, suspension settings, ride height, braking, traction control and diff locks. Basically it turns any driver into an off road expert, the system does it all for you.
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Quote:

Insurance - I found it tricky to get cover for over 90 days on the continent with English plates. It's not worth the hassle of changing the plates unless you stay a couple of years. In the end I joined the Camping and Caravan Club (!) as I could get a year's cover through them.


Just called the C & C club. Inc membership, works out £950 for the year on the focus with 240 days EU cover. That is double what I pay now.

Any other ideas for insurance?
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
You are automatically insured in any EU country for any period of time at that country's minimum legal level of insurance (ie. third party or third party fire & theft in most cases). See http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/OwningAVehicle/Motorinsurance/DG_067630 or search for "first directive on motor insurance". So if you're fine with third party cover, your current policy is fine. Insurers don't want you to know this and call centre staff are specifically told to avoid the subject. If you're currently covered fully-comp it's possible to take your 90 day cover in one block and then drop down to third party level after that, just expect call centre staff to be very awkward when you arrange this, even when you get passed onto a supervisor and quote the first directive. Look at the back of your current insurance certificate also, it will state something like "This policy is valid in the UK, EU, Switzerland... etc" with no mention of dates.

As others have said, if you have a car you're already happy with just get a new set of wheels with snow tyres so you can easily swap between summer and snow tyres yourself, carry chains and any other items required by law in the country you're visiting.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Libertine, Insurance in France is like-for-like about 20% cheaper in France. The key seems to be to get your maximum no-claims on your French policy --- just huff-and-puff ,, it's what I originally did with a letter from my UK insurer.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
barry, I have the Terrain Response thingy in my Disco 3 . It is good , but personally I would like a little more control over settings . I have only used it for Mud/Ruts and Snow/Grass and the only things that has stopped it so far is deep snow and thick wet grass. The best off roader I have owned .

Spyderman, I didn't realise that the Defender still had all that manual stuff. Also I don't think the Terrain Response adjusts ride height except - which is very annoying - it threatens to lower suspension if you drive more that 30 kph in off road height. A Landrover for the Granny state .

altis, great video. Reminds me of the Suzuki LJ80 ( forerunner to the so-called Suzuki " Jeep " ) I once had - virtually unstoppable off road with large thin chunky tyres , light weight , despite only 800 cc and and very basic.

John
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
alltnaha, Mud & Ruts and Rock Crawl settings automatically put the suspension into maximum ride height.
Wet grass is very like driving on sheet ice.

A Defender is full of gadgets compared to what I drive off-road, my newest is a 30 year old Series 3. There isn't a modern production 4x4 that 'll stay with me off-road. I've got 5 inches more ground clearance and better approach, departure and breakover angles, deeper wading depth than any modern car.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 17-06-11 15:35; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Libertine, try Stuart Collins for insurance. We've had competitive priced policies with them for unlimited European cover on a UK registered car. Web link is in my post above.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Spyderman, do you do your own builds/mods? Would love to give the jeep a bit of a lift & some padding, high intake etc once its a bit older/retired from the daily driver(clearence is the only thing i've had a bit of trouble with, and steering / diff / etc protection seems pretty hard to come by in this country at least)
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
barry, I do all of my own work, apart from welding.

It'll be expensive to mod your Jeep in the UK, plus expensive to fix when you break it off-road, which you will of course. better to sell it and buy a Landy. Cheaper to mod, cheaper to fix. Having said that there are a few around that have been modified. Internet and get the stuff mail order from the States.

I take it your Jeep is a diseasel? Don't even think about taking a petrol through deep water, raised intake or not.

Lifting the body is pretty easy, but I'd only do it in order to fit bigger tyres if there's clearance issues. All you do by lifting the body is raise the COG, so it falls over earlier.
Taller tyres are the only way to increase clearance under the diffs. Try and fit the tallest tyres go can get whilst trying not to go too wide.

Standard for my Landy was 6.50 x 16 or metric equivalent of 205/80R16, I've now got 9.00 x 16 or 255/100R16. 36.5" tall. Cool

Depending on where you are I'll be happy to take you out and show you the ropes.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
barry, I had a YJ with a 4" pro comp lift in the late 90s. Great fun. I hope you've got the 4L straight 6. Where landrovers are great is in the mud but where i always thought the Jeeps shone was rock crawling.

I found the best place to get Jeep bits was http://www.specialist-leisure.co.uk/acatalog/.

I always found this club very help full http://www.jeepclub.co.uk/community.cfm
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barry, Here's a slightly modified Jeep, looks good.


http://youtube.com/v/fQWyeTdNdLY&NR=1
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cheers for the tips guys, i'm in a 2006 wk, the 3L diesel. It's still the main family car but is used to some roughish riding round these parts with plenty of snow action in the winter. Has got me out of some difficult spots including through a 30 mile stretch of closed high pass road in deep winter on a dash to the maternity ward with mrs barry a couple of years ago - had a snow bow wave clearing the bonnet a couple of times that day Shocked . (I did follow a county plough who lost the road in a whiteout into a field in it too the same winter Laughing )

have promised myself she'll never leave me (the jeep that is Laughing ), so will likely change a few bits and bobs on it when the time is right (to persuade her-indoors we should buy a new family car without a trade-in!). Happy to do a fair chunk of the work myself actually (well, under the armchair guidance of my panel beater & mechanic old man) given reasonable access to the parts.

anyway, sorry for the thread hijack, hope the OP gets sorted with a good deal and setup
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Suzuki Jimny with decent tyres.

Unf*ckingstoppable, cheap and incredibly uncool.

Chuck a lift and some air lockers on it, and then it's even better.

Weighs nothing, if you put it in a ditch, three blokes can just pick it up and lift it out.

Loved mine, had it as a plaything, sold it, still regretting it, even with a new Mitsi Challenger and a new Nissan Pathfinder sitting in the garage.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Sat 18-06-11 6:56; edited 1 time in total
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
clarky999, a whole lot less expensive.

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hang11, I think you'll find that a Suzuki is stoppable. Laughing




I drove through both of those parts no problem.
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That's an SJ Very Happy

And the weight of that exo thing probly sunk it Very Happy
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