Most of us would probably rather do our taxes than drive on any more snow and ice after the winter we’ve had, but what if that snow and ice was in the form of a frozen lake, in Sweden, and the motor of choice was a Toyota GT86?
Sound better? We thought so.
Malcolm Flynn, from CarsGuide, jumped into the new car for us on a visit to Sweden to see if the GT86’s on-road talents translate onto a surface that’s hard enough to walk on. Here’s how he got on:
Lake Åresjön in the exotic ski village of Åre (pron: Or-de), is about 350 miles north of Stockholm and is covered by more than three feet of ice in March. It was -9C in the sun the day we were there.
With all traction aids bar the anti-lock brakes turned off, we were led onto a guitar-shaped course in this decade’s most exciting Toyota. The aim was to maintain a constant drift all the way round, with the top and bottom sweepers linked by inverted sweepers to encourage two transitions per side. So permanently sideways in other words, but almost everything you know about oversteer needs to be forgotten. Anything more than the most gentle steering inputs will see you off the track in no time.
The surprising grip from the snow tyres meant that decent constant wheelspin was needed to keep the rear end controllable, to the point where second gear was needed to maintain enough wheel speed. The 86’s Torsen limited slip differential helped too, keeping both wheels spinning together.
Second gear turned out to be the magic formula, even from rest, and I was able to just leave it there with no clutch or handbrake, just steering and throttle.
Snow banks are best avoided with plastic bumpers, but the odd touch didn’t hurt and certainly helped us stay pointed in the right direction. A bit like bumper bowling.
It’s quite Zen when you finally manage to string a whole lap together. Gently caressing the steering wheel and throttle, you actually start pondering things like what you’re going to have for dinner, or whether the instructor ever takes his HiLux out for a play on the ice.
At this point we graduated to the long course. About 2 miles in length, it was narrower, bumpier and somehow had taller snow banks.
We eased into it by leaving all traction aids on, this was indeed a step backwards in terms of fun, but proof of how well-calibrated traction and stability control can tame even the most hilarious of conditions. Not ideal on this particular occasion, but mighty handy every other day of your life.
The next step was to turn the traction control off, but leave the stability control on. I highly recommend giving this a go if you ever get the chance, as it gives you plenty of wheelspin in a straight line, but grabs individual wheels to pull you back if there’s any sideways movement. A great demonstration of the role of stability control, but nowhere near as fun as with it all switched off.
Few things are, actually, particularly at the higher speeds of the long circuit. You feel like you’re as on-edge as Rauno Aaltonen in the Rally Finland, even though you’re probably barely doing 30mph.
Content Marketing Executive at Motors.co.uk
March 17, 2018