Home / Reviews / First Drive / Audi Ice Drive, Austria – When Slippery is the Norm

 

We were invited by Audi to take part in the ice driving experience organised by them in Austria. Here is how it went off.

Story: Aspi Bhathena

Photography: Audi

Audi conduct different driver training programmes on different road surfaces. These include the racetrack driving experience in the Audi R8 and the ice driving experience in the Audi RS5 and Etron RS GT. All these programmes have a common goal: to improve your driving skill and to make you a better and safer driver.

Incidentally, this was not the first ice driving experience for me, having taken part in a couple of such events in Sweden and Finland, where these were held on frozen lakes. The experience in Austria this year was held on a frozen field.

The actual driving experience was preceded by a short briefing in the evening to explain to us what we should expect over the following two days. We were split into two groups, one driving the Etron RS GT and the other driving the Audi RS5. Of course, we would swap cars after each exercise. Both the cars were fitted with Swedish Lappi studded snow tyres for the driving experience. We were instructed to switch off the ESP and traction control to make sure there was no assistance from the electronics. It would be our respective driving skill alone that would help us in controlling the cars.

The first exercise of the day was in the Etron GT and it pertained to countering understeer. The course was laid out with cones marking where the apex of the corner was as well as the outer part of the course; the idea was to keep the car within the stipulated area between the cones. We were not doing high speeds—even at 35 to 40 km/h the car would not turn in owing to the slippery surface. The more one turned the steering wheel, the car would lose traction and carry on straight. To counter this, one had to lift off the throttle and apply light pressure on the brakes for the weight transfer to get some bite in the front wheels and traction to help the car turn.

The next exercise was related to oversteer. To create oversteer, one had to apply the brakes, turn the steering, and then start giving power till the rear end kicked out. To correct the oversteer, one had to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction and feed the power gently to keep the car going in the desired direction.

Normally, we do a lane-change exercise on tarmac within a large car park. This time it was on ice. One accelerates hard till one attains 70 km/h and apply the brakes hard with ABS kicking in immediately and then one steers the car left or right. When one’s partner calls, one starts braking. The test lies in manoeuvring the car without touching the cones.

The slalom test was the most fun as it tested one’s reflexes. One had to get off the gas to turn the car and step on the gas to kick out the rear. Too much gas would create a lot of oversteer which, though it looks good, tends to slow one down.

Driving on ice improves one’s driving skill, for hardly any grip is available, and it also teaches one that smoothness is the essence of driving: any harsh input while accelerating or braking suddenly sends the car into a slide.

 

Between the two aforementioned cars, the Etron GT RS was easier to drive because of the leaner power delivery from its electric motors, but the RS5 more fun to drive.


Last but not least, I would like to thank the Audi India team for offering us a wonderful and extraordinary driving experience.

 

 

 

About the author: Aspi Bhathena

 

 

Recent posts in First Drive

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code
     
 


six − 3 =

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *