I own an air-cooled Porsche 911, a 1987 Turbo to be exact, and the very thought of driving it in the snow sends chills down my spine. Not because it's sacrilege to drive a classic Porsche in the snow, but simply put, it's bloody dangerous. With no ABS, no power steering, a turbo that's either on or off, and an unforgiving rear end that loves to put the car into ditches, you can understand why my whale tail Porsche is best enjoyed during dry, sunny days.
New 911s are often still thought of as being summer-only sports cars, but the technology infused into them these days makes them equally capable performers on snow and ice. How do I know that? I just drove the new Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, Carrera 4 GTS, and Cayman GTS like an absolute maniac around a snow and ice coated racetrack and, simple put, they were exceptional. Granted, our subjects were wearing Nokian winter tires with metal studs for some extra bite, but even then the 911s and Cayman were very willing to rotate and more importantly were extraordinarily nimble and manageable in these extremely slippery conditions.
One of the more impressive features I got to test throughout the day was how well Porsche's stability management system (PSM) works on snow and ice. Despite me being a driving purist at heart and always wanting to run with PSM off, I'll be the first to admit PSM is a must-have for winter driving conditions as it saved me a few times from stuffing the 911 GTS into a snow bank. No matter how sharp your driving skills are, after my experience with it, I can confidently say PSM will save you from an accident in unexpectedly slippery winter conditions. That being said, it doesn't kill all the fun, allowing some light sideways action.
You didn't think I'd leave PSM on the whole time, did you? Of course I didn't! And the instructors actually encourage it, because as much as we were at the Porsche Camp4 Winter Driving Experience to learn about winter driving techniques, we were also there to have fun.
You'd think with all the weight over the rear of the Carrera GTS that it would be a challenge to keep from over rotating, yet once I found its sweet spot the 911 proved to be more than up to the task of handling every corner with sideways delight. The Cayman GTS was equally outstanding and offered even more agility thanks to its mid engine layout. It was the easiest to hold at opposite lock with the pedal mashed, and if I had to choose between the two the Cayman would be my winter track weapon of choice.
However, if I were going to buy an all-weather Porsche for road use, it would have to be the Carrera 4 GTS. With an AWD system that splits torque on demand to the front and rear, it still behaves like a RWD car but with the added grip and acceleration of an AWD. As you'd expect, the Carrera 4 GTS was the most confidence inspiring on the icy Camp4 circuit.
Even though the cars are the main attraction, they're only part of the magic and allure at the Porsche Camp4 Driving Experience, which is located just about an hour north of Montreal, Canada in the scenic Laurentian mountains. There are a lot of fun winter activities in the area like skiing and snowmobiling, but for my money there's nothing more adrenaline releasing than sliding around in a new Carrera GTS or Cayman GTS. The track here is called Mecaglisse and it's the perfect place to learn some high performance winter driving techniques and have an absolute blast doing it.
The experience starts off with some simple driving drills (think oversteer, understeer, how to induce a slide, etc.) and advances quite quickly (the Scandinavian flick, weight transfer techniques) and before you know it you're driving full tilt, kicking up white stuff around the highly technical racetrack.
I participated in the one-day course, but Camp4 is offered in multi-day trims which should be the experience of choice because, let's face it, one day just doesn't seem like enough time to truly appreciate how capable and exhilarating a GTS-based Porsche can be in the snow.