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quattro vs. traction control

I think I saw some discussion about this in the archives, but I can't
find it now, so I'll ask anyway (sorry if I annoy!):

At the local auto show yesterday I got into an interesting discussion
with the BMW rep, who tried to tell me that their traction control was
just as effective in snow as any 4WD system (including quattro).
Specifically, she said that I wouldn't need tire chains when there are
chain requirements.  Not sure I believe her.  (Actually, I'm sure I

This is an important consideration because in the mountains of
California where I go in the winter, chains are usually required in
snowy conditions unless you have 4WD and snow tires.  For those of you
not familiar with California's mountains and who maybe don't have
highway departments with such policies,  I can tell you that this isn't
as conservative as it seems:  when storms come, the snow falls heavy,
wet, and fast, and the roads are steep (plus the drivers are from
California  - enough said).   Since putting on tire chains is a major
nuisance, I want very much to have a car that doesn't need them.

Actually, I'm sold on Audi anyway, but I'm curious if anybody knows how
well "traction control" would do in snow, and specifically, does anybody
have any knowledge of California's tire chain rules:  Does the
combination of traction control and snow tires allow you to escape
putting chains on?

(It's interesting to see manufacturers like BMW and Saab try to position
their 2WD cars as good snow cars.  You've probably all seen the BMW
penguin commercial (the penguin can't make it up the snowy hill, but the
BMW with traction control goes right up), and Saabs are heavily
advertised as snow machines.  I wonder how many people buy these cars
thinking they're getting AWD snow performance........)

Erik Bruce