DRIVING ON ICE
BECAUSE THERE’S A LOT OF FUN TO BE HAD IN THROWING A $150K CAR AROUND A SLIPPERY TRACK.
MEngine roaring and back wheels spinning, the Audi S4 Avant is doing its best impression of an Olympic figure skater. On a goldmedal-winning day. Gliding across the ice with poise and precision, the only flash of colour against winter white coming from the station wagon’s red paint job as it expertly navigates the circuit in Seefeld, Austria. Rolf Volland, a three-time European Autocross and 13-time German Rallycross champion, emerges from the car. “Now you’ve seen how it’s done, it’s your turn.” Trying to replicate his manoeuvres proves unsuccessful, akin to attempting to out-muscle Buddy Franklin in the forward fifty. That said, our initial fear and trepidation about belting about on ice is usurped by newfound feelings of bravado and confidence – driven by the knowledge the fleet of Audi S4s and A8s each come with ‘Quattro’ all-wheel-drive systems, studded tyres and ABS brakes. But moments (read: mere seconds) of grace land between unplanned stutters and spins. With a more-than-handy 245kw and 440Nm on call, a firm stab on the accelerator pedal has the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine humming and the S4 raring to go. Yet control remains elusive. Flick the steering wheel to the left, add power — lots of power – lift your right foot, throw the wheel hard right and start sliding. Sounds easy, but the key to keeping the car in a continuous drift around the course is knowing precisely when to add power and when to lift the foot off the accelerator. Lift too soon and it’s over before it started; hold it too long (guilty) and the S4 either spins out of control or spears towards an ice bank separating the course (a farm paddock transformed into a giant icerink) from the surrounding pine forest. After a few false starts, things come together for almost a full lap – the speedy V6 engine sending all its power to the rear wheels, pushing them into a frantic spin in a bid to regain traction as the S4 half-masters the circuit. Driving on ice is something few Australians will experience. Being allowed to fling around a $150,000-plus Audi as a farm kid would his father’s ute is even more rare. But, to the tune of $6000, that’s what Audi Australia has car enthusiasts doing on its European ice driving experience, so best sign up now for next year. Cheap it is not – but damn it is fun. And mental. We mentioned it’s fun, right? n
WITH A MORETHANHANDY 245kw AND 440Nm ON CALL, THE S4 IS RARING TO GO.
AUDI’S ICE-DRIVING SCHOOL IN AUSTRIA; THE AUDI S4 AVANT.