Winter Challenge on Snow and Ice

Three, two, one – go! I step on the accelerator pedal and my Model S P85D lifts off! The frozen snow can’t withstand the tremendous torque of 930 Nm and engulfs the car in a cloud as if I was attending the desert rally of Paris-Dakar.

But much to the contrary, this story takes place in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, on the snow covered runway of the St. Stephan airfield between the famous winter-resort villages Zweisimmen and Lenk, at an altitude of about 3200 feet.

All this takes place within a professional winter driving class, carried out by the Swiss Touring Club TCS as 2016’s first Swiss Tesla Owners Club STOC event. 32 red, blue, black, silver and white Model S had gathered on the airfield at 8am the same morning – an impressive picture.

The Tesla four wheel drive – always there to help you

The fact that on such a difficult surface, sheer propulsion isn’t worth anything if you don’t have driving stability becomes obvious very quickly during the course of the day. Luckily, my Model S offers both: I can throw my car around the slalom course with speed and precision. Quick steering movements, followed by short moments of stability, allows me to follow the track laid out by the markers on the ground – all this made possible by the dual motor electric drive system on front and rear axles and the digital all wheel steering of my Model S.

Model S in action! Video: Sichtfeld GmbH – DESIGN FILM FOTO, Solothurn

No slope too steep

Another task during this eventful day consists of avoiding objects on the track – with or without reducing speed, after which we get to test our limits by braking hard in front of a foam barrier and experience and demonstrate our talent as well as the outstanding performance of our cars’ safety systems.

Cornering at speed (eventually including a powerslide - my favorite exercise) on different surfaces challenges both car and driver to the limits. We close the day with a thrilling experience: crawling down a steep and icy slope.

Being just as steep, the upward part of the track is almost as challenging, but thanks to its all-wheel drive with traction control and adjustable ride height, my Model S comes out on top. Again. In the end, our exciting one-day adventure on ice and snow leaves me happy and satisfied.

At this point, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation towards the engineers at Tesla! Even the dynamic traction control system ESP, working in the background to keep the car from swerving, is always at its best.

But the icing on the cake really turned out to be the digital four wheel drive; the independently acting front and rear motors react much faster than a conventional drive shaft setup, allowing for more speed, precision and safety. Even on the most slippery surfaces, it felt like the car was on rails.

What range anxiety?

Long after sunset, we gathered one last time around 5pm to say goodbye, tired and happy after a successful day.

Even though we had been driving all day, sometimes with consumption as high as 500 Wh per km, not only did everyone complete the event without trouble, most of us still had enough energy left to drive home, without even having to stop at the Supercharger in Rubigen: there is no such thing as range anxiety with electric cars!

To summarize, there is no better four wheel drive car currently on the market, considering the traction and stability the Model S provides even on the most difficult surfaces.