Porsches on Ice
An Exclusive Drive in One of Porsche's First Fully Electric GT Race Carsby Greg Carloss
Have you ever taken a detour to an empty, snow and ice-covered parking lot and tried your hand at drifting? Well, our “Over the Edge” guy Greg Carloss has; and he’s done it in cars, trucks and SUVs. Well, this week he one ups himself by heading to Northern Europe and sliding around in two very special Porsches!
GREG CARLOSS: Up until now I’ve been able to avoid the arctic circle during winter. Well, as you can see, that streak has ended because Porsche invited me to Northern Finland to drive some of their race cars on ice, which means it’s absolutely freezing… So, let’s get to it!
On a frozen swamp 180 miles above the arctic circle is a Porsche Experience facility like no other. A 422,000 square meter ice playground where customers of all skill levels can drift around 32 different handling tracks in their choice of over 100 Porsche models.
My day starts as it would for any Porsche Ice Experience participant: With some hot coffee and a briefing. Then I meet the cars.
This 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is one of Porsche’s turn-key customer race cars. But what I really came for, the 718 Cayman GT4 e-Performance is a bit more exclusive.
BJÖRN FÖRSTER: The GT4 e-Performance is Porsche’s really first fully electric GT race car. The aim while developing this car was to reach the same lap times as a GT3 Cup Car for the duration of a one-make series sprint race…
So, the maximum power output of the GT4 e-Performance is 1088-horsepower and for the duration of a one-make series sprint race, 30-minutes, we’re going down to 612 horsepower
GREG CARLOSS: Porsche built just two prototypes for a yearlong world tour. Fortunately for me, this one made an unexpected pit stop here in Finland.
BJORN FÖRSTER: It’s really an exclusive chance for you to have a ride on this car because only a handful of journalists have ever driven this car beside our Works drivers. And you’re the very first to have it on ice!
GREG CARLOSS: No pressure. Smartly, Porsche started me off in the GT4 Clubsport on which the e-performance is based. And while the goal here is to break traction, you still need some grip.
So, we always talk about how winter tires are the best in winter time. Well, sometimes you need a little bit more, so these cars are fitted with metal studs.
We start with a few runs through the slalom, which, for this MotorWeek test driver, is just another day at the office…sort of. After a few “Scandinavian Flick” drills, it was more car control workouts on the circle track and finally the figure eight…
A little bit of a Scandinavian Flick. There we go. There it is. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! Yeah, there it is.
Just as I was finally seeing the figurative and literal light in the Clubsport, it was time to switch to the e-performance, requiring a heavy recalibration. Not so much because it’s a more potent electric powertrain, but because it’s all-wheel drive, which means drifting it is an entirely new animal.
RICHARD LIETZ: The timing of turning, off-throttle, going on power, turning, off-throttle, going on power is good. What we do need is a bit more speed.
GREG CARLOSS: More speed you say?
By now you know this is the part where I typically talk about what it’s like to drive the car in real time. But attempting to slide this extremely powerful all-electric race car took so much of my focus I could barely get a word out.
The electric motors let out a deafening scream under full power and counter steering with a yoke style racing wheel is not easy. So instead of talking. I just take in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When it’s all over, my body hurts and my ears are ringing. But in that moment…the arctic air felt pretty darn good.