Is there any higher form of cheap entertainment than an empty parking lot the morning after it snows? In my formative years we always preferred our local baseball park’s lots after a snowfall. It was guaranteed to be empty in the dead of winter, and was seldom cleared quickly. I wouldn’t be shocked to find that scars dug by my Golf’s studded Hakkapeliitas still mar those parking lots ten years on. Of course, as we grow up the caliber of cars used for hooliganism increases. Rather than the Golfs and old Subarus of my youth, this video features a 991 Carrera 4 and a new Jeep Wrangler. This snow autocross showdown is far from scientific, but it is very entertaining.
For the most part, both drivers appear to be following Herr Röhrl’s tips for winter driving, with a little gratuitous sliding thrown in for viewers. Despite how dissimilar the two cars are, it’s interesting to see how much of an equalizer the snow really is. Because the snow on the course is so shallow the Jeep’s main advantage, clearance, is a non factor. Neither car is at any risk of high-centering or snow-plowing this thin layer of snow.
Given the stock tire sizes of both vehicles (winter tires are fitted to both), the Jeep actually has some advantages. The tires are relatively narrow for the truck’s weight, helping it to put power down through the slush. This same factor also aids braking performance. The Porsche, by comparison, has some trouble getting underway in the snow.
Where things get really interesting is in corners. Due to the lower coefficient of friction caused by the snow, lateral forces during cornering are reduced dramatically. Because of that, the Jeep’s very high roll center is much less of a factor than it would be on dry pavement or even dirt. Free to move around, the Jeep seems to navigate the corners remarkably well.
Rear engined Porsches seem to love loose surfaces. The 911 and the 356 have both been praised for their all-weather handling. It should come as no surprise that the 911 managed corners well, and with some momentum helping it seemed pretty capable of putting its extra 135 horsepower down out of corners.
But with the same driver at the wheel of both, will that make the 911 the faster autocrosser?