At 02:04 PM 3/20/01, Eric Sowers wrote:
>I've never driven an S4, but I'm here to tell you that my 83S on ice, with stock wheels and Sumitomos, is a nightmare, and I've been driving bad weather all my life.
Perhaps this is a good time to repeat something.
High performance tires suck in cold weather. At temperatures under 40 deg F, the rubber gets hard, and your expensive low-profile tires give you worse traction than the cheapest all-weather radials that you could buy. It can be quite a surprise when you try to make a quick stop on dry pavement at 25 deg F, and discover that you can make the ABS hammer very easily.
The 928 was extensively tested in cold weather, and will do very well - IF you have winter tires!
As with any car, the main factors affecting driveability in the snow for the
- rear wheel drive and weight distribution (front-engined / rear-engined):
The 928 while better balanced than most front-engined, RWD cars, still doesn't have that much weight over the driving wheels. So in that respect, a 911, an MR2, or even an old VW Beetle is going to do much better.
- tire tread, circumference, and width: Wide tires are the kiss of death for ice/snow, unless they have a very aggressive snow tread. Narrow tires will bite down into the snow and get better traction. In general, the greater the tire circumference, the better, to help you roll more easily over snow and the various obstructions that come with winter driving.
- ground clearance: the 928 does not lend itself to driving in anything deeper than 2-3 inches, practically speaking. I did manage to get mine home from Chicago in a storm last winter, before I put the S02s on. I made it through about 4 inches of snow, but I had no confidence while I was doing it. And I didn't buy the 928 to suffer from a lack of confidence.
- braking control: ABS helps. Alot.
- And, of course, the weather conditions. When some people say "snow" they mean an inch or two. Here in South Bend, IN, we mean a foot or so.
My own experience with my car: I drove my '88 back home from D.C. when I acquired it two winters ago. In January. Hit a few snowstorms on the way home, some ice, etc. Did fine. After I'd had it a few weeks, I put on new S-02s and 17" wheels. It snowed about 3 inches the following weekend, and I found that I couldn't even get the car out of my driveway. I felt like I had "reverse traction" on those S02s. They absolutely s*ck in the snow. But then, I didn't get them for the snow.
Bottom line, I wouldn't drive my 928 in the winter, unless I had to. If I had to, I'd make sure I had a good set of Blizzaks or Alpines mounted on old wheels that I didn't care about. If I was expecting more than 2-3 inches of snow, I'd probaly also think about ways to raise the ride height for winter driving. That, or risk getting hung up and/or damaging the spoiler over ice ruts.
Just one other thing to think about: I don't know what the stats are but I'd imagine the risks of being in a fender-bender (or worse) rise considerably if you drive the car in the winter. I just can't stand the thought of what an accident is going to do the resale value of my car. And if it gets totaled, I'm probably going to get back about 50% of what I have in it. Maybe. So now I keep mine in the garage in the winter and drive the Cherokee in the winter. I've been rear-ended twice in it this winter alone.
Since no one got hurt, and the other guys' insurance paid to get it fixed, no sweat.
One funny thing that happened to me. I was reversing from the garage on a icy winter day. Did this before and never had an issue with that. But today the driveway was really icy and as soon as the rear wheels were on the iced driveway the traction became such that it started to shift. I thing my brake holding the wheel and the PSD were paying against each other so it seemed that the car was trying to pull out of the garage despite of me braking really hard. Next phase became even more difficult. The fronts were out of the garage and the whole car started to shift sideways getting awfully close to the stone wall of the house. It took a few moments to figure out how to get out of this mess.
The solution is simple: put the car in reverse until it moves, put it back in Neutral as soon as it moves so that you loose traction and can use the brakes to regulate the speed. when it is at a standstill put it into Reverse again for a brief moment. That works super. Same for forward. Apply short traction boosts and do not try to fight the PSD and torque of the engine. You will fail miserably.