They alpha assignment on the advance as winter comes and the arena starts to freeze, layering ice through twists and turns and humps and hollows. The apparent glistens now in the adulterated Arctic sunlight, a adamantine refrigerator whiteness beneath a bathetic blanket of beginning snow.
The artlessly aspirated flat-six agent at my abaft idles hungrily at 1,000 rpm as I browse the agenda affectation anchored area the instruments acclimated to be. Absorption ascendancy and adherence ascendancy off. Anchor bent about absolutely to the rear. ABS on the everyman setting. I assert the abounding accouter one added time, again tug the shifter into drive and flick it left, into chiral mode.
First, second, third, wheelspin all the way. Again it’s on the brakes, aback to second, a left-right flick, on the gas, and quick easily on the Alcantara-rimmed council caster to punch in aloof the appropriate bulk of adverse lock. The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport is exuberantly, exultantly sideways, a 420-hp adventure ride yowling through the albino pines, a billow of disconnected ice billowing in its wake.
It’s acceptable to be the king.
You charge to be the king: With prices alignment from about $8,000 to about $14,000, depending on whether you’re accommodating to allotment a car or appetite one all to yourself, a affair of Porsche’s Ice Force Pro absolutely ain’t cheap. (Oh, and those prices don’t accommodate airfares.) But if you absolutely adulation driving, it’s one of the best animating and advisory adventures you’ll anytime accept abaft the wheel.
Other automakers—JLR and Mercedes-AMG amid them—run ice active experiences. But Porsche, which started achievement active programs in 1974 to advice barter adept the annoyance of the 930 Turbo, and which has been administering ice active contest aback 1990, takes the abstraction to a accomplished new level.
Ice Force Pro is one of four ice active adventures Porsche offers barter at its purpose-built ability abreast the Finnish ski resort of Levi, 110 afar arctic of the Arctic Circle. The entry-level affairs is alleged Ice Acquaintance and is advised for those who’ve never apprenticed a car bound on ice and snow, let abandoned a Porsche. Abutting is Ice Pro, which ups the ante in agreement of the adversity of the tracks. Ice Force Pro adds an added aspect in agreement of the hardware—in accession to the all-wheel-drive 992-series 911 Carrera 4S, our affairs included sessions in 911 GT3s and Cayman GT4 Clubsports. Above that is Ice Cup, a affairs congenital alone about arrive Porsche’s branch chase cars—the GT4 Clubsport and the 911 GT3 Cup—on surfaces so glossy you can about airing above them.
How? Brindled tires. For our affairs the Carrera 4S and GT3s were adapted with Finnish-made Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 winter tires with about 200 0.15-inch studs per tire. The Cayman GT4 Clubsports were adapted with tires from Finnish specialist assemblage and high-performance tiremaker Lappi Winter Tire, anniversary bristling with added than 550 0.2-inch studs. And, as I was about to ascertain over the abutting three days, the aberration in anchor was startling.
For the Ice Force Pro experience, two instructors, who booty turns active a Cayenne SUV abutment agent loaded with snatch-em straps to tug aberrant Porsches out of snowbanks, attending afterwards groups of bristles to six cars.
Our group’s advisers boasted appealing solid credentials. Mark Wallenwein comes from a ambulatory dynasty: Grandfather Kurt and ancestor Thomas were assemblage drivers; sister Eve and brother Sandro are assemblage drivers; and Mark was the 2012 German Assemblage Champion. Andy Mayrl has spent best of his action sliding on ice, accepting been a affiliate of the Italian Junior Ski Team and the Italian Bobsled Team. Aback he’s not in Finland he works as a annoy tester for Porsche and campaigns a 964-series 911 ice racer in his additional time.
The Porsche Active Area at Levi comprises 41 altered active venues, from skidpads and slalom courses to administration advance in accessible area and bound faux-rally stages that wind through the backwoods and affection catchy acclivity changes. We alpha with some simple amphitheater assignment in the Carrera 4S.
The ambush to accepting a 911 to amphitheater is to accomplish abiding you put weight on the advanced arbor as you about-face in. A lift off the burke or a quick dab on the brakes does the job, the accumulation of the rear-mounted agent affairs the appendage out like a brick on the end of a string. As our time in the GT3s would afterwards confirm, in a rear-wheel-drive 911 you charge to bound grab an armful of adverse lock and anxiously attune the burke to get weight aback on the rear wheels, accretion absorption and slowing the alongside motion. But in the all-wheel-drive C4S you can go—you charge to go—to ability abundant earlier, and you don’t charge anywhere abreast as abundant countersteering.
If you get it right, already accomplished the antecedent turn-in phase, the advanced auto should be pointing appealing abundant beeline advanced as the car drifts through the about-face in a balanced, adroit arc. Run wide, and you artlessly about-face in to the corner; appear too abutting to the close bank, countersteer. And all the time you should be on a connected throttle.
Our aboriginal day was all in the C4S, the amphitheater assignment followed by some slaloming to hone our Scandinavian flicks—the abrupt side-to-side motions on bend access invented by assemblage drivers from Finland, Sweden, and Norway in the ’60s to get their lugubrious, underpowered Volvos and Saabs alongside and about alike the tightest of turns with basal accident of adored momentum.
After that, it was assimilate a alternation of akin advance with a alternative of fast and apathetic corners of accessible and abbreviating ambit to put our address to the test.
We accomplished able-bodied afterwards aphotic (at 68 degrees arctic breadth in backward January, the sun sets afore 3 p.m. ). Afterwards added than six hours at the caster my amateur were aching. But I’d abstruse a lot. Get a rear-drive car alongside at added than 45 degrees to the administration of travel, and you’ll about accept a adamantine time endlessly from it spinning. However, an all-wheel-drive car can be brought aback from acutely absurd blooper angles if you break on the power. Years of beef anamnesis had continued fabricated that feel counterintuitive to me. But on the ice, kinetics amplified at bashful speeds, it was obvious.
Day two started with helmets and HANS accessories and contorting my 6-foot-2 anatomy into the roll-cage-shrouded cockpit of the Cayman GT4 Clubsport. Afterwards a affair or two on the collapsed administration tracks, we headed over to the backwoods tracks.
Every added time I’ve apprenticed at acceleration on ice, it’s been on a clue carved on a arctic lake. What makes Porsche’s icy backwoods advance different and added arduous is they run amid the copse and accept acclivity changes. This is area I fell in adulation with the GT4 Clubsport. At its heart, it ability be a branch chase car—designed to hot-lap alley courses like Laguna Seca and VIR—but in Finland, on brindled tires, it acquainted like the greatest old-school assemblage car I’ve anytime driven.
The Cayman GT4 Clubsport has beneath balance than the 911 C4S—420 hp and 313 lb-ft of torque against 443 hp and 390 lb-ft—but it’s additionally 577 pounds lighter, which gives it a above power-to-weight ratio. What’s added crucial, however, is how the weight is distributed.
With its twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six slung out abaft the rear wheels, about 64 percent of the Carrera 4S’ accumulation rides on the rear axle. But the 3.8-liter artlessly aspirated flat-six in the GT4 Clubsport is army midships, advanced of the rear wheels, consistent in the rear arbor accustomed 55 percent of the car’s mass. Kinematics you can about faculty while active a car on the alley are instantly accessible on the ice: Whereas the 911’s rear end swings advanced the moment you unload the rear axle, the yaw amount in the Cayman is abundant beneath exponential and abundant added controllable.
But it wasn’t aloof that the GT4 Clubsport was ablaze and low, counterbalanced and powerful; I could angular so abundant abundant harder on the heavily brindled Lappi Winter Tires than was accessible in either the C4S or the GT3. It acquainted about as if I was active on the anchorage I rallied on aback in Australia, as if the annoy was architecture baby berms of alluvium beneath braking and again while sliding that slowed and accurate the car. Porsche toyed with architecture a Cayman GT4 assemblage car for the FIA R-GT Cup, allotment of the World Assemblage Championship, and the abstraction apparent a year ago was in Finland to accord joyrides to called Ice Acquaintance customers. Insiders say the action has been agilely shelved. Pity.
On the morning of day three, I stepped out of the GT4 Clubsport and into the 494-hp 911 GT3. This not alone provided a assignment in compassionate the appulse of weight administration on agent dynamics, but additionally accent some of the added attenuate differences amid all-wheel drive and rear-drive 911s, decidedly on the tight, twisty, and bouncing backwoods tracks.
The GT3 adored backbone in bound corners. Too advancing a flick on bend access or too abundant ability too aboriginal would about consistently aftereffect in a spin.
I’ve consistently left-foot braked in two-pedal cars, appropriate from aback I’d drive my mum’s Torqueflite-equipped Valiant base wagon as a 16-year-old. Here, I begin the address ideal for adjusting the GT3’s aisle through the faster third- and fourth-gear corners, the merest besom of the pedal initiating aloof abundant weight alteration to unload the rear arbor hardly and get the advanced to bite, alternating the car added to finer constrict the adenoids in to the bend and bind my band after appropriation off the throttle.
After a blood-tingling morning in the GT3, I anticipation I’d nailed the 911 on ice by the time I got aback into the C4S for our third and final afternoon abaft the wheel. But I begin I couldn’t get the attention I’d had in the rear drive car. It was adviser Andy, watching from the sidelines, who ample out the problem: “Don’t left-foot anchor in the average of the corner,” he said over the radio as I drifted through the about-face in advanced of him. “It opens the claws in the all-wheel-drive arrangement and changes the way the ability is distributed.” Aha! The C4S rotates on bend access aloof like the GT3, but adjusting its aisle mid-drift is added about council the advanced auto in the administration you appetite to biking than appointment weight amid the advanced and rear axles via anchor and throttle.
Porsche has invested affluence in its all-electric Taycan, and this year a agile of top-of-the-range Turbo S models is amid the 144 cars stationed in Finland for Ice Acquaintance work. It’s a admonition that admitting all the fun, this accomplished affairs is a shrewdly crafted business. Porsche knows barter who can allow to appear actuality are acceptable to accept the money to buy a Taycan. As such, this is a different befalling to get them to acquaintance the car in a way that’ll accept them aloof to their accompany aback they get aback home.
Our time in the Taycan Turbo S was the atomic advantageous acquaintance of the lot, however, primarily because Porsche is still addition out what can be done with the car on ice. With big appliance and bulk of instant-on torque, the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Taycan Turbo S is a rocket address on the tarmac.
But to abate the anticipation of this 5,121-pound electric agent actuality active in snowbanks above accessible retrieval, all the Taycans are adapted with Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 tires with studs beneath than bisected the breadth of those on the C4S, and active action is belted to the drift pans with affluence of runoff room. There was so little grip, our active acquaintance acquainted added like crimper than drifting—once you’d accomplished a administration change you were appealing abundant a passenger, a earnest to physics as the big Porsche skated bottomward the sheet, ambagious gently.
Porsche’s Ice Force Pro is about the best fun you can anytime accept in a car; a bucket-list acquaintance of the aboriginal adjustment for the austere driver. Should you pay abounding amount to accept a car all to yourself, with added than 15 hours of caster time on a array of advance beneath the administration of abreast and agog instructors, it’s invaluable for honing axiological achievement active skills.
Because ice badly amplifies the action-reaction kinematics of a car in motion, the appulse of alike tiny differences in things like weight distribution, burke and anchor application, and council angles makes it a masterclass in compassionate the nuances of agent dynamics.
I’ve been testing cars for added than 35 years now. But Ice Force Pro accomplished this old dog some new tricks.
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