Driving Porsches on Snow and Ice

Stéphane Groleau

Camp4 Canada, Porsche’s winter driving school located an hour outside Montreal, offers a different kind of speed experience.

Beyond the high-speed thrills we received back in 2012 at the Porsche Sport Driving School near Birmingham, Alabama, we came away with invaluable techniques and maneuvers that have helped us in day-to-day transportation. So when we heard that many Porsche instructors head north to Canada this time of year to set up camp for a winter driving program at Mécaglisse—a specially built snow-and-ice racetrack in the heart of the Laurentian Mountains—we signed up immediately. Considering the snow storms that have been blasting the East Coast, a course in handling a vehicle in such conditions was worth the trip.

The first Camp4 was held in Rovaniemi, Finland, in 1996 and has expanded to Switzerland, Italy and China, in addition to Canada, which is in its fourth year. Though you don’t need to be a Porsche owner to participate, after experiencing one of these programs, which allow you to progress through various levels culminating in the master-level Ice-Force held in Finland, it will be hard not to head straight to a dealership.

Three different vehicles are used to teach three specific driving techniques through three unique exercises. The vehicles featured at Camp4 Canada are the mid-engine, 2.7-liter, six-cylinder, 275-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive Cayman (used to show you how to do a rally flick); the rear-engine, 3.8-liter, six-cylinder, 400-horsepower, rear-wheel-drive 911 Carrera S (used to teach you how to control oversteer); and the rear-engine, 3.8-liter, six-cylinder, 400-horsepower, all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4S, with an electronically controlled differential that moves power to the front tires to help control oversteering and sliding. All the cars are outfitted with 1.5-mm-studded winter tires and PDK dual-clutch transmission that offers the mileage and performance of a manual with extremely fast, smooth gearshifts and short reaction times.

After a theory briefing in a conference room at the luxurious Estérel Resort, home base for participants and instructors, everyone is shuttled off to the driving grounds, 40 minutes from the hotel, to get behind the wheels of these high-performance vehicles and spend the day maneuvering, braking and accelerating.

Camp4 Canada costs $4,745, and includes three nights' accommodations at the Estérel Resort, two full days of driving, all meals and transfer to and from the track; porsche.com.