450 hp Audi RS4 Avant’s insane sideways fun under Northern Lights now open for all – Times of India

Driving a fast, good-looking and desirable car is always on the top of the wish list for car enthusiasts so naturally, we were mighty happy to drive the Audi RS4 Avant recently. However, what turned out to make the experience a lifetime experience was the setting for the drive, which was Finland. A cold, white and snow-clad Finland and a frozen lake was the perfect playground for a performance-oriented vehicle such as the RS4 as we found out recently at the Audi Ice Drive in Lapland, nearing the Swedish border.If that doesn’t sound special then being 200+ north of the Arctic Circle should surely get your attention!
Now while driving on the roads was fun, that wasn’t the reason for us to be there. The real reason was a frozen lake that we ended up drifting the RS4 Avant on for three straight days! Audi instructors along with the help of some massive tractors had carved out multiple tracks on the frozen lake for us. These ranged from simple ovals to long and complex tracks that required the driver and car to perform at their best to get through. In case you’re wondering what happens when one of us makes an error or mistakes themselves to be a rally driver, the ice banks were designed to take a hit and ensure no or minimum damage to the car’s bodywork. Of course, going into the snowbank meant in most cases the car was beached and we had to radio in our friend Yuka, who would come with his tractor and tow us out. Calling him though meant a punch on our name cards and no one wanted to top that list for obvious reasons.

Audi Ice Drive

With regular inputs from the instructors about the design of the track we set off on the frozen lake for the first time and almost instantly found the car wanting to slide sideways even at speeds as low as 60 kmph. That’s how slippery the hard ice was and had it not been for the metal studded winter tyres, none of us would’ve been able to go anywhere except into the snow.

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About an hour of driving later, the car felt a lot better as we were able to understand the grip and were getting comfortable going sideways through almost every corner. We kept switching between different tracks. which allowed us to widen the scope of enhancing our skills and towards the end of the day things were looking pretty good. Our blue RS4 Avant was not only going sideways through every turn by now but even the short connecting straights hardly saw our car following a straight line. The brilliant control and grip offered by the Quattro helped big time and since the system performs so flawlessly and consistently, it’s easy to understand it and think a step ahead by trying to predict what the car will do rather than correcting what has been done.

Audi Ice Drive

Soon we were told that all journalists will be posting a timed lap with the top three not only taking the podium but some cool Audi merchandise as well. We all got one hour of practice and one attempt at setting the time. Even the smallest error would mean the lap would be pointless. With that pressure we set out to post our time and things went good nearly halfway through the track where the need for speed got a bit out of control and the car entered a turn faster than it should’ve and whacked the snowbank throwing a flurry of snow in the air. Thankfully, we weren’t stuck and didn’t have to stop for more than a second but did end up losing time. We ended up being in eighth position but it was more about the fun and less about winning. I mean, wouldn’t all those who ended up outside the podium say so!
As the overcast sky started darkening as early as 4 pm, we made our way to the hotel and once again found ourselves driving on roads full of snow. Once again the grip from the tyres and Quattro meant that despite constant snowfall we were driving at the speed limit of 100 kmph and the car never felt even slightly out of its comfort zone.
In case you’re wondering how much power the RS4 Avant packs, the 2.9 L Twin-Turbo TFSI engine develops 450 ps of power along with 600 Nm of maximum torque. Now on the ice, we never felt the need to use all this power but the drivability from the power unit was so good that often through drifts we were hitting the rev limiter, something our German instructors did not approve of and resulted in some annoyed radio transmissions.

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With temperatures ranging between minus seven degrees on the first day to minus 25 degrees on the last day at the frozen lake, we preferred spending most of our time in the heated and comfortable cabin of the car unless we had to face or use the camera. Talking of the cabin, all the tech inside the cabin works well, translating into a pleasurable experience every time. Also, finding the desired driving position is easy in the RS4 and that allows for better understanding of the car’s dynamics, resulting in better control.
Through the next two days, we saw different designs of tracks being used and with every hour all drivers were getting better and faster. With constant inputs from the instructors, we found ourselves going sideways through most parts of the track and were significantly faster. That for us was the most important takeaway as the Ice Drive not just gave us a memorable experience but also made us a better driver, not just on ice but on every surface. We say that because ice is trickier than most surfaces and once you learn the art of controlling a car here, things get easier on other surfaces.

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Beyond going sideways in a white expanse, we were fortunate to witness the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. In addition, we also did a great snowmobile ride on a different frozen lake, making the Ice Drive an experience to remember for life. We must add that the folks from Audi and the local population in Finland were extremely helpful and the scenery all around was perfect to be made into a postcard or a wallpaper. If you’re lucky enough on a day with clear skies you might just happen to watch the Northern Lights even while doing an early morning drive on the lake or while driving to it.
In case reading this is making you want to have the same experience, we have some great news. Any Audi customer can opt to buy the Ice Drive experience for roughly about Rs four lakh. At the drive, we were accompanied by Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head, Audi India, who added that not just customers buying new Audi vehicles but even pre-owned buyers can go for the Ice Experience. Non-Audi customers though aren’t allowed at this point of time, he added. This amount doesn’t include the flight and visa cost but even if one were to add that cost you would have an experience that will put a smile on your face every time you think of it throughout your life. Most importantly, you’ll come back as a faster and safer driver!

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