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Audi Ice Drive Experience : Four-wheel Ballet
The thing which had me thinking as soon as we landed at Arvidsjaur, close to the Arctic Circle was whether in the blanket of white and some dark green bits peeking through we could get some colour and zest as we gathered to put ourselves through the paces of Audi’s Ice Drive Experience. Many might question driving on ice and its relevance to our driving conditions so let’s get that straight out of the way – last year we had over 144,000 deaths on our roads and quite a sizeable number could have been saved had they known better car control. Driving on ice is a great way to learn better car control while yet having fun exploring your limits and that of the car you are driving and this was the reason Audi India bundled a handful of motoring journos all the way to Sweden to experience ice and learn the art of car control using quattro drive.
What was of even more significance as we were given a crash course of driving theory by a team of experts (which also incidentally included Markus Winklehock, winner of the 2012 Nurburgring 24 Hours and son of the former F1 and sports car ace Manfred Winklehock) was the fact that the most damage we could do, apart from a puncture ego, was to get our course card punched every time we slithered off the course, banging through snow banks and altering the scenery.
Nevertheless the fact that we were to start literally from ground zero and just go around an oval (near enough to a big zero – get it!) at speeds slow enough to get into the groove and then try and find the limits of adhesion and also the subtle nuances of when to steer, how quick or slow to steer while also being gentle on throttle to begin with while progressively moving on to plant that right foot deeper and deeper made us aware not just about the umpteen driver aids that modern day cars come brimming with technology and their efficacy but also how our own inputs can help get more out of them than we thought possible.
My good friend Siddharth Patankar, of NDTV’s Car n Bike show was paired with me and we drew car no. 13 which was a great omen to begin with, neither of us ever given in to superstition or such mumbo-jumbo. However, what was enlivening, was the glow on Sid’s face (covered as he was wrapped in umpteen layers of clothing to ward off the -19 degrees centigrade weather) on seeing the cars lined up to use were all bright red Audi S4 quattro Avants – absolutely cool to behold as they slipped, slithered and sizzled on the white powdery landscape. From a visual and a television point of view the last time we all had ventured forth on ice was with all white and/or silver-hued Audis so red was a welcome contrast to give both colour and flame the passions especially as we were way below freezing point!