Update 1: Porsche 911 Turbo, the Ultimate Winter Car

Posted by: Shelton Kwan onNovember 16th, 2011

For the last 2 months, I’ve been whining and complaining on our forums about how boring the 996 Turbo is. Monday night, after our first dusting of snow on the roads, I take it all back. But first, let’s go over the progress of our 911 Turbo winterization program.

Intro: Porsche 911 Turbo, the Ultimate Winter Car

Our first modification was a set of winter tires provided by Integra Tire on MacLeod Trail. Due to the 996’s AWD system, there’s only a small number of winter tires that fit the 996 Turbo. We choose a set of Hankook Icebear W300’s, 225/40R18 up front and 265/35R18 out back. These tires have average grip in snow and ice, but grips well on cold dry pavement, which is a great compromise for Calgary’s winters. Because the 265’s require a 10″ rear wheel (factory rear wheel is 11″ wide), a new set of winter wheels were required, and was provided by Kulu Motorcar.

Next up, we had to protect the vehicle from the rocks used to sand our roads. A heavy impact area 3M job was installed by Shadow Tinting. They also tinted the windows, headlights, rear tail lights, and side reflectors for a more aggressive look.

Finally, an oil and filter change, tune-up and spark plugs replacement was performed by Alpine Autowerks.

And now, why I’m taking all my badmouthing of the 911 Turbo back. Late Monday night, secondary roads were still covered in packed snow, and lots of ice from drivers spinning their tires, which gave us a great opportunity to test the car’s winter driving dynamics. The car was warmed up, and PSM traction control was disabled. This is my first AWD vehicle, so it’s been a learning experience the last 2 months.

In the dry, the 911 Turbo understeers everywhere. Safe, but not exactly fun. Things are completely different in the snow. Turn in and jab the throttle, the tail whips right out. Keep the throttle planted, countersteer, and the car holds the drift forever. Not only that, the car accelerates through a corner. All this while sideways, but holding the line. Back off the throttle, and the tail snaps right back into line. Awesome.

Accelerating from a standstill, the rear loses traction, and the fronts bite propelling the car forward at a rate I’ve never experienced before on snowy roads. With the music on mute, I can hear the center diff working, transferring power to the fronts when the rears are overwhelmed. Drop it into 2nd gear, the car has nearly full traction, putting down all 420 horses with ease. It’s definately the first time I’ve felt turbos pushing me into the seat in winter. Again, awesome.

It’s too bad AWD doesn’t give the driver any more braking performance, it takes a while to get used to the gobs of grip accelerating, yet no improvements in stopping. ABS was working furiously as I was runing around testing the car’s limits.

Finally, I turned PSM back on to see what normal driving conditions the car would provide. The car is a lot slower as PSM intervenes everytime rear and front traction is lost, however, it’s still marginally faster than any FWD or RWD car I’ve driven in the winter. Understeer is back in the game (I found it impossible to kick the tail out with PSM on), but still accelerates at a good pace out of corners.

Hopefully, we’ll see more snow in the coming days, I’m really curious how the car eats up deep snow or slush. For now, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in the snow. Until then, here’s a gallery of how the car looks so far.

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