Winter driving (and sliding) at Porsche’s Camp4 Canada
Porsche’s latest new-gen 911 touches down first at winter driving school that gives well-heeled enthusiasts low-speed thrills with big fast toys on slippery white playground
When you're driving in serious winter conditions on the street, and are properly looking well down the road, you don't want to be looking out your side window. That's a bad sign that something's gone very wrong, and you're about to have an expensive and perhaps dangerous crunch. At Porsche's Camp4 Canada winter driving school, if you manage not to loop it, looking out the side window gives you bonus points.
As the snow flew all around us on one of four specially prepared snow tracks, we had the back end of our various Porsches oversteering so much that our driver's side window practically begged for its own windshield wiper. This school is all about high-end, tail-out fun, which happens at very low speeds when you're sliding across frozen lakes and through carved-out tunnels of snow at Mécaglisse in the Laurentian mountains, about an hour's drive north of Montreal.
Most notably, this annual winter driving school done over 10 days in early February was the first touch down of the new generation Porsche 911 in Canada. This 2013 Carrera S coupe was part of a 20-car strong fleet dedicated to the school, this year featuring the new 991-generation CS, the mid-engine Cayman S coupe and a 2012 911 GTS convertible.
Winter school offers first drive and glimpse of new 911, for a lucky few
It's not a course for the faint of heart, or light of wallet. At a starting price of $4,995, and $5,495 for the more advanced 4S course for those who attended the school's opening Camp4 Canada year in 2011, or other advanced Porsche driving courses around the world. That price includes two or three nights of fine dining, dinner wines and accommodations, but doesn't include transportation to the luxurious but out-of-the-way Estérel resort.
It may be easier to convince the corporate planner at your workplace to shell out the $75,000 price for a day of corporate training, should you be so lucky as to work at a place where the suggestion to play with high-end Porsche sports cars in the snow as a team-building exercise would be anywhere near the realm of possibility.
For as important as winter driving safety is to individuals and companies alike, the Camp4 Canada courses are really more about driving pleasure and pampering than finely sharpening winter road safety skills. All the school's Porsches use serious Nokian winter tires with 1.5-mm studs, which are illegal in most parts of the country. These studs help the tires cling better to snow and ice, but drives up the threshold one has to push to probe their limits — and well past the level any sane driver would try on unpredictable public roads.
"We have to entertain," said Camp4 leader Kai Eberhard Riemer, who came last year from the Camp4 school in Finland to help launch Porsche's first winter school in North America. "Sure, it's to learn, but we have to have fun," And there's a method to the tail-out, grin-inducing madness, he says, quoting long-time Porsche driver and rally legend Walter Röhrl: "The true art of car control is felt in an unstable way of driving."
And this enthusiast winter wonderland is all about controlled instability.
How prepared are you and your car for spring?
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- 65 %Winter tires are off tune-up has been done and I'm set to take on the hot season!
- I've been procrastinating getting my winter tires put off. This weekend, I promise!
- I'm daydreaming of warmer days and to protest winter, I'm driving my convertible.
- Excited, see you around!