Following two of the worst consecutive winters in living memory BMW's UK unit has revised its specialist winter tyre programme.

Changing tyres to suit different seasons is already part of mainstream motoring in most of Europe and now BMW are making this easier than ever to do in the UK too.  As well as offering a selection of winter wheel and tyre packages, for GBP30 it will store and insure the spare set of summer wheels and tyres until they need to be changed again in spring.

Summer tyres, fitted as standard equipment by all car manufacturers, operate best at temperatures above 7°C. Once the outside air temperature gets nearer to freezing the rubber in summer tyres hardens, which detracts from their performance. In true wintry conditions of snow and ice tyre performance is even worse.

The new winter wheel and tyre packages have been specially engineered to operate much better than summer tyres at temperatures below 7°C. The tyre is made from a different mix of silica/rubber compound which enables them to retain flexibility at much lower temperatures, generating heat and reaching their optimum operating temperature much more easily.

Even if the winter is mild, winter tyre users will benefit from significantly reduced tyre wear and increased wet weather grip and performance.

The winter wheel and tyres are claimed to result in as much as 40% better wear characteristics than summer tyres when the outside temperature is below 7°C - meaning the tyres will last a lot longer.

Braking distances improve by up to 20% on icy roads and up to 10% in the dry.

Prices vary by model but start at GBP700 for a complete set of four winter wheels and tyres on a 1 series.