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driving R E T A W , R E WAT E R E H W Y R E EV but , r e t n i w s i h t e t ther u o s d fog u n o a r e s h d c o a o e l f h t i tI ’s tr ing w l a e d n o s e d i u read our g WINTER 2012

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WELCOME PLAY MISTY FOR ME Accident specialist Accident Exchange has revealed that the recent cold snap caused a 9% increase in accidents compared to normal winter conditions at this time of year. It blamed the rise on drivers losing control in icy conditions, mostly because they hadn’t left sufficient gap to the vehicle in front. Peter Pellegrini of Accident Exchange said: ‘Driving in harsh, wintry conditions can be an absolute minefield. Great care is needed to avoid losing control when it is icy, so drivers need to allow extra time for their journeys. Nobody wants to have an accident but especially not during the festive period.’ Fog can be one of the most treacherous hazards you’ll come across, so read Olivia Baldock’s article on p6.





BACK TO THE DRIVING BOARD A recent survey by the AA’s charitable trust revealed some of the tensions among drivers on UK roads – 92% of young drivers aged between 18 and 24 thought that older drivers would benefit from some form of retraining, while 78% of older drivers over the age of 70 thought that youngsters would benefit from the same retraining. AA president Edmund King said: ‘Rather than looking at a driver in terms of how old they are as an indicator of how safe they are, we would urge all drivers, irrespective of age, to think hard about whether they could benefit from refresher training. We all have a responsibility to look after ourselves and each other on the roads.’ DIAmond chief examiner Mike Frisby thinks the same – read his thoughts on p5.

SOME CARS WE’VE DRIVEN We’ve been out driving a fairly diverse selection of cars recently –as you’ll be able to see from p14. The Mercedes SLS AMG roadster is an impressive car whichever way you look at it (our favourite way is from the rear three-quarters), its six-point-somethinglitre engine belching, grumbling and spitting its way along the road. It’s a nice reminder that motoring can be outlandish and theatrical, even if it is the sole preserve of wealthy oil-types. Much closer to reality, we’ve also tried out the impressive new Santa Fe from Hyundai and Volvo’s new hatch/coupe/mini-estate, the V40. Both cars are quite different, but give good reason to be optimistic about the directions their makers are taking.



EDITOR Sam Burnett

DESIGNER Matt Russell



DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE The AA estimated last month that the recent flooding that hit the news across the country caused £14 million of insurance claims in the form of cars written off by water damage. AA Insurance director Simon Douglas warned that even those cars that survived the floods could pose problems in future. ‘Catalytic converter and exhaust system life can be seriously reduced, wheel bearings could seize, brakes can be affected and alternator and starter motors could fail,’ he said. He added that an AA Patrol was recently called to assist a car that had been immersed in flood water. Leaning in to the car, the airbag went off without warning, breaking the patrol’s arm. Read Howard Redwood’s guide to floods on p11.



IT’S AMAZING WHAT A BIT OF LIPSTICK CAN DO... Driving has been going for nearly 40 years in one guise or another, filled with the latest in thinking in the field of advanced driving (see the 1983 cover story on choke techniques, for instance [this isn’t real]) – it’s got history. We’ve gone for a bit of a new look with this edition of the magazine. Do send your feedback in, you can email me directly at This issue we’ve got our resident driving experts Howard Redwood and Olivia Baldock to look at dealing with flood and fog. Ice and snow are like the poster children of wintry conditions, taking all the news coverage and excitement while the others just quietly get on with their jobs. As we’ve seen recently, we’re far more likely to encounter floods during the winter than great amounts of snow. It’s important to be well equipped for any weather. We’re sure our next issue in spring will come around quickly enough, but inbetween then and now is Christmas, so there’s nothing left to do but wish you a wonderful holiday and all the best for the New Year.

Sam Burnett editor


Driving is published by Driving Magazine Ltd Copyright © DIA (Int.) Ltd 2012 Driving Magazine, Leon House, 233 High Street, Croydon CR0 9XT The views contained may not be the views of the publishers. Publication of an advertisement does not imply approval for the goods or services offered. Reproduction by any means, electronically or otherwise, in whole or part, of any material appearing in this magazine is forbidden without the express prior permission of the publishers.

winter 2012 | driving

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If everyone spent just an hour a year having their driving assessed the roads would be instantly safer

DIAmond is a driver’s best hope THERE ARE OTHER ADVANCED DRIVING PROGRAMMES, BUT ONE OF THEM IS BETTER FOR MOST THAN THE REST SAYS CHIEF EXAMINER MIKE FRISBY am often asked about the different advanced tests and which one is best, but I’ve got to be honest, if everyone spent even just an hour a year having their driving assessed and working on their weaknesses the roads would instantly become safer. Sadly most drivers think they don’t need to work on their driving. It’s odd in a world obsessed with health and safety that we can be so cavalier with lives like we are driving. There’s little else in life that gives you so much freedom to improve or get worse that has potentially fatal consequences. All advanced driving organisations are trying to achieve the same goal of improving road safety, so it’s not about which is best as they are all a far better option than doing


nothing. The question I am rarely asked is ‘Which one is the most suitable for most drivers and will meet their needs?’ That’s different: the DIAmond test is the only one based on a system that drivers are already familiar with, having used it to acquire their licence in the first place. They will develop skills they have already learned, becoming smoother, safer and more economical, rather than throwing their skills away to learn new ones, which are probably less appropriate for their needs and more than a little confusing. With a rising number of people attending speed awareness courses we should be putting more emphasis on sticking to speed limits and away from current thinking like it’s OK to go over the limit to complete an overtake on the grounds that you will spend less time on the other side of the road.

winter 2012 | driving


Meet the foggers IT’S NOT JUST ICE AND SNOW THAT DRIVERS FACE AT THIS TIME OF YEAR – OLIVIA BALDOCK LOOKS AT HOW TO DEAL WITH FOGGY CONDITIONS t seems to come round quicker every year, but here we are again – winter is here. Dark days coupled with long evenings sat in front of the fire and with Christmas just around the corner. Lots of extra journeys out in the car visiting relatives, friends and doing that allimportant Christmas shopping. Although if you’re lucky you’ll be Skyping the relatives and doing your shopping online. When it comes to winter hazards, snow and ice are the real showstopping figureheads of the season, the household names that everyone has heard of. But ultimately we don’t see them as often as we might think from looking at festive Christmas cards. The range of conditions we face on the roads at this time of year is quite diverse. So we are all aware of the dangers of ice and snow, which has admittedly become more commonplace in recent years: we know to increase our stopping distance, allow extra time for journeys, take extra equipment in case we get stuck and ultimately deciding whether we really need to make that journey at all. But how many of us give consideration to driving in fog? Perhaps we are not as well equipped to deal with the difficult conditions this weather presents as we like to think we are. Fog can be dangerous and even fatal, where visibility has been seriously reduced. Mix this with drivers who are lacking in fundamental knowledge and harbouring questionable attitudes towards not only towards their own safety, but also towards the safety of their fellow motorists, and you have a recipe for disaster. So what are the basics when driving in foggy conditions? Fog can be very disorientating. The very nature of fog means it travels and drifts around, so one minute you are driving along in nice clear conditions, the next your vision is severely compromised. Before you know it, it is clear again. Drivers frequently get


driving | winter 2012

it wrong when driving in fog; they get a false sense of security from driving too close to the vehicle in front. This is a bad idea for obvious reasons when the driving conditions are good, let alone when neither driver can see more than a few feet ahead. You have to consider the notion in fog that you might be too close to the vehicle in front if you can see it at all, so you have to be able to allow the suitable amount of space and time (give yourself extra journey time so you can drive at a more relaxed pace and not feel pressured) for the conditions. People often assume that you only need to be able to stop within the visible amount of road on a country lane, but the rule counts just as much on a nice straight road in foggy conditions. Another failing drivers often have is driving very close to, or sometimes right on top of, the centre line. They think that by being able to follow where the line is taking them, it gives them clear way to follow the road ahead. Obviously this is a very risky road position not just for them, but for any unsuspecting vehicle coming from the opposite direction that won’t

Geoffrey Robinson / Rex Features

FEATURE expect to see them there, or worse, be able to see them at all. We are advised to carry out a combination of daily and weekly checks on our vehicles that handily form the mnemonic Powdery: PETROL (OR DIESEL) Have you got enough fuel in the tank for your journey? Running out is inconvenient at the best of times, but pretty awful at the worst of times. OIL Your engine is under more stress in extreme weather conditions – it’s important to take care of your car. WATER This includes coolant and screenwash. Windscreens get grubby very quickly in wintry conditions. DAMAGE Say your car got swiped while it was parked, how long would it before you noticed the damage? Electrics This includes bulbs and warning lights on the dashboard. RUBBER Wiper blades need to be cleaned and checked frequently as they are exposed to the elements therefore eventually go brittle and crack, not helping vision. Tyres need to be checked regularly to ensure that they are road legal and that they haven’t sustained damage from things like nails or other debris. YOURSELF Are you fit to drive? Driving while tired or suffering from that cold that’s been going around is often likened to drink driving, but getting behind the wheel when your reactions are slowed and you’re not capable of concentrating on the road could be deadly.

Drivers need to leave much more space to the car in front in foggy conditions than they would do in normal driving

Getting behind the wheel when your reactions are slowed could be deadly winter 2012 | driving


It may sound obvious, but make sure you change your lights depending on the conditions Don’t forget to set the demister controls before you start your journey so you can avoid fiddling around with them on the move. As fog drifts around, you may find yourself alternating between dipped headlights and fog lights as needed. It may sound obvious, but make sure you change your lights depending on the conditions. Not only do you run the risk of dazzling other road users with your fog lights once the fog has cleared, but you would also be contravening the Highway Code. This also applies when you are sitting in traffic. Turn off fog lights temporarily once the following traffic has seen you to avoid dazzling them (this advice goes for brake lights in any weather conditions, but especially at night). Do avoid using main beam lights in remote areas when fog is really bad as it will not only dazzle oncoming traffic, but the fog will reflect back in the driver’s eyes and make vision worse despite what some may think. Junctions can be hazardous areas at the best of times, but in foggy conditions, even more so. Make good use of your other senses rather than just being reliant upon your sight. Open the windows, turn off the radio and turn down the fan so that you can hear approaching traffic. This is not to be relied upon completely as cyclists and electric cars are pretty much silent, but it does help you to some degree when emerging. Using the horn as you near the junction will alert traffic to your presence, and could possibly avoid a collision. Make good use of reflective studs where vision is restricted on major roads. These can help guide you to where you should be, providing you know what the colours mean, of course. The same goes for road markings and lines on the road as mentioned earlier, just be careful not to drive right on top of them. They may be all you can see just a few feet in front of you, so now may be the time to familiarise yourself with the Highway Code if you have any doubts.

driving | winter 2012

Alisdair Macdonald / Rex Features

London News Pictures / Rex Features

KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex Features

Not appreciating the consequences of your driving can have a deadly outcome – it’s always better to allow more time for your journey when you know conditions are going to be bad






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On stranger tides

FLOODS SEEM TO BE A REGULAR SEASONAL OCCURRENCE THESE DAYS. HOWARD REDWOOD LOOKS AT HOW DRIVERS CAN BEST APPROACH THEM he weather changes radically from week to week during a British winter. We’ve seen it already – rain, floods, fog, ice and snow in the space of a month. Indeed, most people associate winter with snowy conditions, but the proportionally the amount of snow that we deal with each year is not that great. By far the most likely conditions you’re going to encounter in a British winter are heavy rain, wind and treacherous night driving. We’ve all seen in recent weeks the damage that heavy rain can do – swathes of the country lying under water, and constant images on the 24-hour news channels of cars stranded in standing water, or even being carried off by heavy flows. Clearly those vehicles are beyond help, but just as often you see drivers approaching water at ridiculous speeds, completely unaware of the danger they are putting themselves and their vehicle in. Millions of pounds of needless damage is done to cars, trucks and bikes because very few of us know when it’s safe, and even how to get safely through floodwater. Tragically, that lack of judgment can cost drivers their life. It’s tragic because driving through floods isn’t particularly difficult, but rather a matter of common sense. Water getting into your engine will result in huge repair bills, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. Here we have come up with 12 top tips for dealing with floods.


2. If it’s deeper than the bottom of your

doors, think about turning round. The water may not look very deep, but an increase in depth of an inch or so may be enough to tip the balance and make the vehicle buoyant enough to float away.

3. If there are already a lot of abandoned vehicles up to their axles in water, take the hint. There’s a good chance you won’t make it either.

4. Even trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles, well known for the feeling of superiority and sense of security they

Very few of us know when it’s safe to go through floodwater

1. You really do need to know how

deep the water is. Six inches (15cm) of rapidly moving floodwater can knock a person down. And many vehicles will float in two feet (60cm) of water or less. So always stop before you get to the flood and assess how deep the water is. Look for clues ­– avoid any stretch of water with television aerials sticking out of it, for instance.

Wet conditions start out looking innocent enough, but can quickly turn into something more treacherous

winter 2012 | driving


London News Pictures / Rex Features

Here are some examples of how not to do it...

Geoffrey Robinson / Ref Features

give, can be swept away by moving water. In fact, that 4x4 hubris leaves many drivers more likely to get into trouble because they overestimate their vehicle’s capabilities.

5. Even relatively low levels of water

will damage some vehicles. If water is sucked into the engine air intake, which is often located at the front of the engine bay and can be especially low in some cars, it will cause serious damage. Catalytic converters, which work at high temperatures and are easily damaged by water (the cold water can cause cracks) are also expensive to replace. Electrical components, and especially engine fuel systems and management systems, are particularly vulnerable to being splashed by even small amounts of water.

6. If you decide to take the risk and drive

through a flood, provided it is completely safe to do so you should drive on the highest part of the road. If it is not possible to drive in the middle of the road, stay as far away as possible from the kerb, where the water is at its deepest.

7. Drive slowly and steadily; the bow

wave you create at the front of the vehicle should be as small as possible.

8. Do not drive through a flood if there is another vehicle travelling from the opposite direction.

9. Drive through in first gear and keep

the engine revs high. If necessary, slip the clutch slightly to increase engine speed. In a vehicle with an automatic gearbox, select the lowest gear and keep a steady pace. Do not back off the accelerator. Water in the exhaust can stall the engine.

driving | winter 2012

Even relatively low levels of water will damage some vehicles


London News Pictures / Rex Features

10. Test your brakes as soon as you

can after driving through any water. Make sure there’s no one behind you, then press gently on the pedal to check that the brakes work. If they don’t work properly, they can be dried by applying gentle pressure as you drive along. Left-foot braking is an acquired art, though, so be very cautious if you try this, or you could end up leaving nose prints on the back of the windscreen.

11. Speeding through standing water

can cause aquaplaning This is where your tyres lose contact with the road surface – unless you have a rudder fitted, this means you have lost steering ability. By forward planning, you can see standing water that might cause aquaplaning, giving you time to ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually. Phew.

12. If you drive too fast through water and soak pedestrians and cyclists, the police could prosecute you for driving without reasonable consideration to other road users. This can result in a fine of £2,500 and between three and nine penalty points on your licence. Also, it is not very nice.

You don’t have to be caught out by surprise conditions if you forearm yourself with the knowhow to approach conditions properly. ‘Your money or your life’, or so the cliche goes. Why not opt for both?

Geoff Moore / Rex Features

This driver could have read the tell-tale signs – the fact that these ones are semi-submerged is a warning not to continue driving

winter 2012 | driving


Rumble in the (urban) jungle

ou approach the SLS like a Swat team approaches a house it’s about to raid. You read about it in disbelief, gingerly circle it a couple of times and then jump onboard. Having no roof costs you an extra £8,500 over the standard coupe – an entire Dacia Sandero – but when you get to this kind of price bracket it doesn’t really matter. It’ll probably cost you that much to fill the tank. The car feels ridiculously wide once you’re ensconced in the clampy sports seats. Jump into an SL65 AMG straight afterwards (as you do) and the latter car feels like a supermini in comparison. The SLS loses much of its lustre when you’re trying to thread it through heavy traffic in south-west London. It certainly feels bulkier than its 1,500kg. Get it on to some empty roads and the performance is savage. The surge of torque begins low down and finishes somewhere around next week, your senses just about able to keep up. The steering is sharp and the ride flat at all times, but a car this big is more into monstering its way across corners rather than darting through them. The active seats pinch and grab at you through corners, keeping you firmly in place. It’s properly grin-inducing stuff, this. And great quality inside too. Not that you’d expect any different for nearly £200,000, but just sitting in


Get it on empty roads and performance is savage driving | winter 2012


the car is a real sense of occasion, forget turning the engine on. When you get round to pressing the start button the whumpf and instant growl takes your breath away. The SLS sounds amazing, and putting the roof down only adds more surround-sound excitement to proceedings. Come off the gas and the exhaust pops and burbles; it’s pure theatre. The loss of the gullwing doors from the coupe is noticed – they added distinctiveness that set the SLS apart in what is a surprisingly packed market when you’ve got bajillions to spend. And it’s a good job you’ll have bajillions to spend, because nothing about the SLS comes cheap. You’ll be lucky to see double figures in fuel consumption if you’re too heavy on the accelerator pedal. The real surprise of the SLS is how easy it is to live with. It’s quite astonishing that the higher you get up the grand scheme of automotive things the easier the cars get to drive. The flappy paddles on the SLS’s automatic gearbox are occasionally frustrating, but the car is a cinch to live with, where more track-focused sports cars much further down the price scale would kick you in the kidneys for being so impertinent as to touch the accelerator. The SLS is as much for posing as it is hustling – which is good, because that’s all you’d really get to do with it on the public highway.

PRICE £176,925

TOP SPEED 197mph

0-60MPH 3.8sec

ECONOMY 21.4mpg

CO2 308g/km

ENGINE TYPE, CC 6,208cc V8 petrol

POWER 563bhp

TORQUE 479lb-ft

GEARBOX Seven-speed automatic

Verdict 9/10



PRICE £25,495-34,395

TOP SPEED 118mph

0-60MPH 9.8sec

ECONOMY 46.3mpg

CO2 159g/km

ENGINE TYPE, CC 2,199cc four-cylinder turbodiesel

POWER 194bhp

TORQUE 311lb-ft

GEARBOX Six-speed manual

Verdict 8/10 t has become something of a cliche to marvel at how Hyundai has come along in the last few years, but annoyingly it is true. Take the new Santa Fe, the all-new 4x4 at the top of the manufacturer’s range. It’s a massive step up from the old one, a really grown-up sophisticated car. The last Santa Fe had this old-fashioned agricultural quality, as if someone at Hyundai was trying to trick you into thinking it was a capable off-roader. The pretence


is away now, though – no one buys an SUV these days pretending it’s for anything other than city work with a view. That said, there’s still some residual offroading ability on the 4x4 models (it comes in 2WD as well) that will help you out of a fix. Luckily the engine is decent because it’s the only one available, but the whole car has a loping, relaxed quality. It’s a pleasure to settle back and ooze down the motorway, heated seats on and the radio up. Good work, Hyundai.

Swedish top 40

PRICE £22,795 (D2 SE Nav)


TOP SPEED 118mph

0-60MPH 11.2sec

ECONOMY 78.5mpg

CO2 94g/km

ENGINE TYPE, CC 1,560cc four-cylinder turbodiesel

POWER 113bhp

TORQUE 199lb-ft

GEARBOX Six-speed manual olvo has had a bit of a PR job on its hands since being bought by the Chinese the other year. Times have been tough for small quasi-independent carmakers – Rover hit the wall, then Saab, but Volvo has managed to escape the worst of it. The V40 is the second car from the new outfit, benefiting from sharing its mechanicals with the Ford Focus but having been stylistically tweaked since Geely took over in 2010. A cover-all-bases entry model, the V40 is intended to replace both the C30 and S40. Given the former is a three-door hatch and the latter a four-door saloon/five-door estate, that


seems to be a tall order, but the new car defies pigeon-holing with its odd proportions. It feels surprisingly upmarket inside, and Volvo’s minimalistic Swedish chic thing works well. We particularly liked the illuminated gear knob, but at £350 it’s an expensive bit of whimsy. As ever, this Volvo is packed to the gunnels with safety tech – some of which you’ll use, most of which you’ll hope not to. The V40 is impressive on the road – stately enough but with some of the added sharpness of Focus underpinnings. It’s not – and this hideous word should be excised from all marketing material – sporty, but engaging enough to keep family drivers entertained.

Verdict 8/10

winter 2012 | driving




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Driving – winter 2012  

Winter driving conditions can get tricky – fortunately our driving experts are on hand with advice on dealing with fog and floods.

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