Four-wheel drive used to be something people would never encounter from one end of their motoring lives to the other. They knew it was useful for farmers and foresters but had no reason to believe they would ever experience it themselves. In the face of this lack of demand, manufacturers generally didn’t provide it.

Things have changed a lot since those days. With cars performing better than ever before and off-roading far more popular than it once was, public enthusiasm for four-wheel drive has risen enormously, to the point where it is now available to nearly everyone.

In the following pages we’ll look at what four-wheel drive is, why you might need it and why you might not.