DRIV­ING ON ICE

GQ (Australia) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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