HOW a vehicle reacts in an emergency is something few drivers will ever discover.
So when a Skoda Karoq suffers a blowout at motorway speeds what happens next is critical.
That was the situation we found ourselves in travelling home along the M40 in Oxfordshire late at night.
Suddenly the car began to fishtail. Not knowing what was wrong, we came off the accelerator and headed for the hard shoulder.
Suspecting a puncture we brought the Karoq to a rest close to an emergency telephone and got out to assess the situation.
Conveniently, the Skoda Karoq come with a rechargeable torch in the boot and using that we could see that the back offside tyre was badly damaged.
Being dark - the road at this point is unlit - and with the problem on the traffic side of the vehicle it was unsafe to do anything other than telephone for help and wait outside the Karoq away from the motorway.
Recovery assistance took more than an hour to arrive and after examining the damage to the tyre in closer detail it was decided the safest method would be to trailer the vehicle five miles to Oxford services for repairs to be made.
Mercifully, the Karoq was fitted with a proper spare wheel - albeit a space saver which is a Â£150 option over the ‘bottle of gunge' kit which would have been useless under the circumstances.
With the wheel off the vehicle the extent of the damage was clear. The tread of the tyre was partially detached and there were a number of significant holes in the side wall.
What caused such a failure was a mystery - especially on a vehicle with only a few thousand miles on the clock - and to our knowledge all had been in good order at the start of the journey.
However, with the space saver fitted it was time to resume the trip home at a steady speed of 50mph to accommodate the tyre's limitations - yet unbelievably we managed to catch up another car in the nearside lane.
Strangely, the tyre pressure warning light came on only after the space saver was fitted and had failed to illuminate when the problem first happened.
Other quirks were the plastic covers Skoda fits to the wheel nuts which proved fiddly to remove, even for a professional recovery team using the special tool which Skoda includes with the space saver.
The whole affair took some four hours - double the normal journey time - and only in daylight the precise extent of the damage to the tyre could be seen.
Such delamination would have caused instant deflation and given the speed at which it occurred the consequences could have been catastrophic.
Fortunately, the traffic conditions had been exceptionally quiet which allowed sufficient time to recover to the hard shoulder without incident - and not once did the Karoq misbehave with its stability controls acting immediately.
With the exception of the tyre pressure warning all the other safety systems fitted to the car worked exactly as they should, taking the sting out of what could have been a very nasty incident.
The Karoq was a 1.5 TSI model in mid-grade SE L trim which costs from £25,905. The extras fitted to the car other than the space saver wheel were electric operation of the boot, lane assist and blind spot detection and a traffic sign recognition system which took the overall cost of the vehicle to £27,550.
Official fuel consumption figures rate it between 40.9 and 37.7mpg with emissions of 124g/km and in more than 1,500 miles it has shown an average towards the top of that band at 39.2mpg.