You like drifting? Porsche has you covered with the Ice Experience. Started in 2011, the program offers multi-day winter driving lessons to anyone who wants to sign up. The idea here is not to break speed records or anything like that. Rather, it’s about honing your skills and having fun behind the wheel of the most fun sports car out there—the Porsche 911.
We at The Car Guide were invited to suit up in our winter gear and come to Mecaglisse in Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci, Quebec to take part in this year’s event, more specifically the single-day Ice Trial. The models on hand included a Porsche 911 Carrera S and a 911 Carrera 4S, both riding on studded Nokian winter tires.
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We started the day with the rear-wheel-drive 911 Carrera S in Speed Yellow equipped with Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch transmission. Our driving instructor, Stéphane Trindade, took us out on an ice- and snow-covered ring to put the concepts of understeer and oversteer into practice. With careful use of the throttle, drifting around the course proved a bit tricky at first, but it got much easier after a short while.
Next came a slalom exercise through cones. The whole point was to get familiar with the PSM system, which stands for Porsche Stability Management but could also mean “Please Save Me,” as Trindade joked. It was really interesting to see how the car behaved differently with the system on (with or without Sport mode) and off.
With Sport mode activated, things become more exciting as the car is willing to go a bit more sideways. When you turn PSM off, madness ensues and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
Dessert came in the afternoon in the form of hot laps with the 911 Carrera S. This wasn’t a race, mind you, as we weren’t allowed to pass other drivers, some of whom had never even driven in the snow before. Thanks to the combination of a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, the standard 911 provided a healthy dose of joy and amazement. At no point did it feel handicapped by the lack of all-wheel drive. Of course, tire selection played a big role.
The second half of the day was spent behind the wheel of a 911 Carrera 4S, which features all-wheel drive and proves competent in any weather.
We used this model to experiment with alternative drifting techniques. Trindade showed us how to pivot the car by applying the brakes to transfer weight from the rear to the front. It’s not as intuitive as other drifting methods, yet equally effective. Later, we discovered how a quick turn of the steering wheel could induce lateral weight transfer and send the car spinning.
Through the various exercises, the agility and responsiveness of the Porsche 911 stood out, further validating its status as the best sports car on the planet. The RWD model we tested initially did a surprisingly good job overall, but the AWD model proved to be without question the most stable and most balanced on surfaces with particularly low grip.
The single-day Ice Trial costs $3,750 plus tax, which in our opinion is an excessive amount of money.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a super-cool event and highly rewarding experience, but with all the time spent listening to the instructors, moving to the different sections of the venue, switching cars and waiting for other participants to have their turn behind the wheel, not to mention the many other breaks, we actually did little driving during the day. All we wanted was to push our limits—and the car’s—on the frozen track.
By the way, the Porsche Ice Experience also has longer and more advanced training programs including Ice Intro ($7,400), Ice Experience ($8,885), Ice Force ($10,475) and Ice Force+ ($13,950). If you can afford them, of course.