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All-wheel drive comparison test on snow sports models with winter tires

Rossen Gargolov
Large four-wheel drive comparison test on snow
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Reliable winter conditions and extensive test areas are best guaranteed near the Arctic Circle. For this reason, s port auto made the long journey to Rovaniemi in central Finland with six new sporty all-wheel drive vehicles. Regular winter tires selected by the manufacturers were used and tested.

Even if German drivers see the light at the end of the tunnel again and have reason to breathe a sigh of relief: The winter is now in its final stages showed that the discussion about compulsory winter tires or the pros and cons of all-wheel drive cars is well justified. In any case, the global warming that has been brought about from all sides is not yet accompanied by the advantage of snow and ice-free roads in Central European latitudes at all times.

Ergo, the sport auto long-loved late winter excursion to the Arctic Circle is still worth it. Because where, if not here - on the pristine expanse of frozen and perfectly groomed Finnish lakes - could the all-wheel drive packages put together every year by the automotive industry, the sporty ones in particular, under fairly stable conditions. The manufacturers themselves banish their development engineers and test drivers for weeks in the icy wasteland, and not without reason. And it's icy: At minus 27 degrees Celsius on the day of the test, even Nordland-experienced insiders have to readjust their built-in thermometers. Going to the restaurant 200 meters away from the hotel with shower-damp hair or without long johns under your jeans is not an option in this weather. Finland has never looked so fresh. This not only demands unusual qualities from the human material - but more on that later. First of all, it is necessary to introduce the participants who have traveled with them.


Audi TT RS and BMW X6 M

Allow me - here are the six candidates who competed for the all-wheel drive comparison in any order: The start is repeated again a sporty coupé from the Ingolstadt all-wheel drive specialist Audi, or better: the associated Heilbronn sports branch quattro, which has four-wheel technology in its name. The 2 + 2-seater goes by the name TT RS and has breathed new life into an engine concept that had been put on hold for years - the five-cylinder with itTurbocharging. The beguiling sound and the impetuous forward thrust of the 340 PS strong Preziose makes the hair on the back of the neck of sport-loving drivers reliably stand tight. But how - so the so far unanswered question - will the wing-reinforced coupé show itself off with low friction values? Just as good and with braked foam like the little brother TTS in 2009, with which the Audi TT RS shares the Haldex clutch, or - thanks to ESP products that can be completely deactivated in quattro GmbH - a good deal more agile? He would owe this to his exposed origins.

The second car in the group belongs to a type of vehicle that sport auto does not otherwise focus on. We're talking about the BMW X6 M, which also bears the identifier of the Munich sports branch, as an SUV - sorry: SAC - but somehow seems to have outgrown the usual standards of BMW M GmbH. 555 biturbo V8 PS - that fits. But 2,343 kilos of weight sound more like the inertia of the crowd than playful ease. Albeit - on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the Bavarian thick ship caused astonishment with a lap time of 8.24 minutes. Maybe the coup will succeed a second time. The basically rear-heavy torque distribution of the variable all-wheel drive could indicate this.

Opel Insignia OPC and Nissan GT-R

The next hot all-wheel drive comes from Rüsselsheim and is called Opel Insignia OPC . Here, too, the carmaker's sporty management team is responsible for the performance of the stately mid-range sedan. After the excellent performance of the 2.0 Turbo 4 x 4 last year, expectations of the OPC model are naturally high. In contrast to other cars with a Haldex multi-plate clutch, which tend to understeer, the Insignia impressed in 2009 with a very refreshing performance in the slalom and on the handling course, despite its comparatively low engine output of 220 hp. The massive stern steered willingly, commands to change direction were implemented without delay. What can we expect from 325 V6 turbo hp?

With even more excitement, only the staging of the Nissan GT-R is expected. In the supertest, the Japanese with its unquestionable traction was in a class of its own. Regarding the use on ice and snow, given the configuration of the 1,778-kilo bolide with the stocky stature, doubts arise: 486 six-cylinder twin-turbo hp want the mounted Bridgestone Blizzak tires of dimensions 255/40 R 20 in front and 285 /35 R 20 must first be processed at the back. This is all the more true as the GT-R is basically a rear-wheel drive car on dry roads. Only at low coefficients of friction are up to 50 percent of the driving force electronically transmitted to the front axle with the help of the on-board differentialssubmitted. The energetic all-wheel drive package is rounded off by a rear-axle locking differential.

Porsche Panamera 4S and VW Golf R

With the introduction of the new 911, Porsche has also replaced the Visco multi-plate clutch with an electronically controlled one. The 400 hp Porsche Panamera 4S that took part in the test relies on an identical system and rear differential lock. The DKG dual clutch transmission is responsible for the power transmission as standard.

Last but not least, the 270 PS strong VW Golf R is a compact all-wheel drive vehicle without any overly sporty allure for grip and propulsion. Since the Group's turbocharged four-cylinder direct injection engine is also mounted transversely in this case, a Haldex coupling is also used here. In contrast to the 4motion drive of the R32, the system, which is now equipped with an electric pump and pressure accumulator, now works independently of slip. There is no longer any need for speed differences between the rear and front axles to activate the multi-plate clutch.

That’s the theory. You can read about the practice in Part 2 and in the photo show.

That’s the theory. In the icy practice, the six opponents have to undergo a total of three tests relevant to the overall ranking. In addition to the ability to accelerate and brake, the handling properties of all-wheel-drive athletes are also on the test bench.

A 4.7 kilometer test track is waiting for the opponents

For this purpose, the Finnish owner of the Arctic Driving Center, Pentti Koskiniemi, and the Swabian Host Uwe Nittel specially milled a 4.7 kilometer long test track with curves of various radii in the compact snow cover. 'Since you are on the road with normal winter tires without spikes, we did not completely remove the snow, but only compacted it. That increases the level of grip,' commented the ex-rally professional on his forward-looking action. In fact, the unrestricted suitability of the track and the surface is already apparent on the first lap. The course is as fluid as it is varied. Long, fast corners alternate with quick changes of direction and 180-degree turns in second or third gear. The expectant grin is already immovably carved on the face of the test crew. A sufficiently long and wide driving dynamics area is available for the acceleration and braking tests, which guarantees every car a fresh lane for sprint and stopping maneuvers. The best possible equality of opportunity here as well, even though the all-wheel drive vehicles are not in direct competition with each other due to their different classes. Rather, the quality of the vote in general as well as the handling qualities and traction in theTo judge special.

The Audi TT RS can play without ESP

Let's stick to the order selected at the beginning and start with the Audi TT RS, which - that is at this point explicitly mentioned again - in contrast to its little brother TTS, which was tested in 2009, and its corporate colleague VW Golf R without a network and a false bottom, i.e. without ESP. The mounted Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D interlocks with the white surface in an exemplary manner despite the comparatively lush tread width of 255 millimeters, as the impressive 0-100 sprint on an icy track within 8.2 seconds proves. The precise steering, a courageously gripping brake and the rather loose rear make the TT RS a case for connoisseurs and experts. The quattro model can be moved in a playful and agile manner and rewards the courage to stay on the gas. But it sometimes surprises less experienced pilots with very fast counter attacks. The Audi is one of the fastest on the handling course with 4.28.4 minutes.

Only the Opel Insignia, which was already convincing last year with its weaker engine, sets itself even better. Equipped with identical tires in a more moderate format, the 1.8-tonne limo pulls surprisingly lightly and elegantly on its way. Smallest impulses on the accelerator are enough to move the rear end to steer carefully. If it weren't for the smooth, somewhat callous steering: the Insignia OPC would have deserved the title 'particularly valuable'. Either way, the man from Rüsselsheim, who is easy to control, who deserves the title 'Lady among all-wheel-drive drivers' due to the elegance of his manners, sets the pace on the snowy handling course with 4:27.6 minutes. The Hessian is also at the forefront in the longitudinal dynamics tests.

The presentation of the BMW is no less surprising. The X6 M, with an ideally leading front axle and an astonishingly loose rear, can be steered perfectly with the gas and impresses with its smooth transitions and excellent controllability. Fast counterattacks à la TT RS are alien to the Bavarians, who do not seem overweight on this track. In the brake test, the pachyderm with 104.8 meters of braking distance from 100 km /h behind the Nissan GT-R even slipped into a remarkable second place. That makes you sit up and take notice, as does the lap time of 4.30.1 minutes achieved on the handling course.

The Nissan GT-R, the only mixed tire in the test

The Porsche Panamera S also deserves great praise, in addition to the fantastic traction (8.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km /h) and the smooth transitions, especially the excellent steering feel and the extremely good guidance on the front axle are convincing. In comparison, the rear end of the only naturally aspirated sports car tends to oversteer without overwhelming the driver. The exemplary safe and secures itself with 4.34.8 minutesextremely light-footed four-door cars have a place on the handling platform. In the only mixed-tire car in the test, the Nissan GT-R, things are more differentiated. The Japanese is endlessly fun, even if the guidance and directional stability of the front axle leaves something to be desired compared to the Panamera. Gamers will love the comfortably loose rear that can be directed with the gas. The brake reacts well to hard braking impulses, the ABS holds back comfortably. With 4.36.5 minutes, the Japanese is not right at the front due to his overall poorer traction.

Only the Golf R, which can be audibly and noticeably braked by means of the non-deactivatable ESP, is even more restrained. The stability program applied to narrower 17-inch winter tires with a lower speed index, with the 225 millimeter wide 18-inch winter tires with a specification of 240 km /h that are generally approved, but not recommended by the manufacturer - obviously trouble and reacted inappropriately early to the tires' holding and cornering forces, which the system rated as too low. The rigorous control interventions on the part of ESP and ABS left traces both on the handling course and in the acceleration and braking tests. Volkswagen has reacted to the test results, which once again describe the importance of tire choice for the overall car system, which sport auto has repeatedly penetrated, and promised a follow-up test. And why should something that works so excellently after careful coordination work in dry conditions, ultimately not also work on ice and snow?

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