To avoid slipping in snow and ice

To avoid slipping in snow and ice

On request, the e-tron comes off the assembly line with two electric motors, 408 hp, all-wheel drive and a 95 kilowatt-hour battery.



At low temperatures, the range and performance of electric cars decreases. We learned what to watch out for in winter at the Audi driver training course in Davos.


Fabio Simeon / A&W Verlag

Electric vehicles and winter conditions are usually a pretty notorious combination. Because autonomy and performance decrease with low temperatures. Nevertheless, Audi did without its combustion engines during its Ice Experience in Davos. Anyone who wanted to zip around the ice in an e-tron, Q4 e-tron or RS e-tron GT had to go to school first.

No all-season tires

The first entry was devoted to the theme of tyres: The black rubber is the only link between the vehicle and the road and, in an emergency, the decisive element. However, the legislator does not prescribe any season-specific tires. For Jan Becker, former racing driver and Audi instructor, it is clear that all-season tires are not an option in a country like Switzerland: “An all-season tire is like a seasonal tire at maximum temperatures, whether it either in the plus or minus range – in terms of grip, traction and lower braking distance,” says Becker. Not only the depth of the tread, but also the age of the tire contributes to its performance. “By the way, this also applies to Quattro drivers,” Becker jokes and goes on to explain, “A 4×4 vehicle gets better traction through power distribution, which shouldn’t be lost through bad tyres. “

The Audi RS e-tron GT is the brand's first fully electric RS model and, with 598 hp in overboost, the Ingolstadt-based company's most powerful production vehicle.

The Audi RS e-tron GT is the brand’s first fully electric RS model and, with 598 hp in overboost, the Ingolstadt-based company’s most powerful production vehicle.


Sit down – but hey

If the vehicle components are designed for winter driving, you can drive. The following applies here: If you want to steer correctly, you have to sit correctly. It is important that your feet always reach the pedals easily, even when your legs are bent. This is the only way to guarantee maximum brake pressure and minimize the risk of injury in the event of a rear collision. The situation is similar in the upper part of the body: the backrest should be adjusted so that the shoulder blades do not lose contact with the seat even when the steering wheel is turned sharply. The arms should also be slightly bent. This increases the possible steering angle and with it the possibility of avoidance and improves the reaction time.

The optional all-wheel steering and the three-chamber air suspension with controlled damping should also give the 2.3-tonne Audi lateral dynamic talents.

The optional all-wheel steering and the three-chamber air suspension with controlled damping should also give the 2.3-tonne Audi lateral dynamic talents.


Push instead of pull

Speaking of steering: “Progressive steering has the highest priority, especially in winter. The leading hand should always be the one on the outside of the curve. The steering wheel always wants to be pushed and never pulled,” explains Becker. Otherwise, you risk understeering the car with a jerky pull. “If the front wheels are to the side and start to spin, you have as much control over the vehicle as you would on a Davos snowmobile,” adds Becker. If, despite all the precautionary measures, you have trouble on a downhill road, it is important to know in which direction the wheels are pointing. After all, there comes a time when the tires grip again. If they are still standing, it will be dangerous.

The German automaker specifies a range of 347 and 446 kilometers for the Audi e-tron Sportback.

The German automaker specifies a range of 347 and 446 kilometers for the Audi e-tron Sportback.


Recovery only helps in terms of autonomy

Keyword danger: Electric vehicles have a clear advantage when driving downhill on a snowy mountain pass, as the practical test shows. The magic word is recovery. Especially if this can be forcibly adjusted using “shift paddles”, as is the case with our E test vehicles. Depending on the level, the function intended for power recovery slows down more or minus the vehicle. A complete blocking of the axis is impossible – at least for Ingolstadt. Here, the recovery brakes more noticeably, regardless of the level, than the brake pedal allows. “Of course, it takes a bit of courage to release the brakes on an icy slope, but the result speaks for itself,” says Becker. And indeed: from the Gasthaus zur Tschuggen in Davos-Dorf, the brake only had to be operated once. And that’s only because a snowstorm blocked all visibility and made it impossible to continue the procession for a short time.

No problem thanks to a logistical masterpiece

At lunch together, the visitors draw their first conclusions: the majority is enthusiastic. This inevitably raises the question: is an electric vehicle better suited to learning how to drive in winter than its thermal counterpart? Becker answers the question as follows: “In terms of traction, performance development and handling, I now prefer electric cars. We can also explain physically that electric vehicles are more efficient than combustion engines in terms of traction control. The latter is much slower in its reaction. A certain disadvantage can be found in the loading possibility. Unlike most of Switzerland, the best places for winter driving practice – i.e. the passes and mountain roads – are still somewhat less developed. Although there are isolated charging stations, which make it possible to cross or spend the winter holidays without any problem, to recharge an entire fleet of vehicles – as is needed here – more or less simultaneously, it is a logistical masterpiece. “But this challenge will diminish considerably in the next few years,” assures Becker.

Drifting with almost 600 hp

The drift exercise was also very hot. For this, Audi used its electric flagship: the 598 hp RS e-tron GT, with which a pylon had to be circled at the same distance. The professionals showed it, the amateurs did it about the same, as long as the counter-steering worked. “Of course, driver training is also fun. The ultimate authority should always be control and command of the vehicle,” Becker said on the radio. He alludes to the fact that drifts only take place after the driver provokes it. “Even in high-performance rear-wheel-drive vehicles, the chassis and tires normally ensure that the rear does not tear,” explains the instructor. However, as with understeer, it is important that you know how to react in an emergency. “Once you pass your driving test, regardless of the country, you only get the certificate that you can “participate” in road traffic. If and how it works properly, then it is mostly learned from self-taught way”, explains the former racing driver. But: In the context where a dangerous situation offers only one chance to react correctly, driver training is worthwhile for everyone. Or to summarize in the Instructor’s words: “If I can do something better, be it mountaineering, skiing or driving, then I will make it safer.”


Jan Becker is a former rally driver. Today, he passes on his experience as an Audi instructor to his guests.

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