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SSO: Best Supercar for Winter, Porsche or Ferrari?
November 8, 2012 6:59 AM  |  Posted By: Secret Supercar Owner
Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 by 4 members  |  17 Comments  |  12472 Views
Related Categories: Supercars

We were sitting in the conservatory having breakfast on a cold wet November Saturday morning.  The rivers of water were just pouring down the glass roof, liquid sunshine at its best.  From across the table the question was lofted into the air, “what is the best supercar for winter?”  This set off quite the debate.   First up was agreeing a set of criteria, it would need to be able to handle snow, rain, frozen roads, and survive being covered in both grit & salt.  Being able to carry a couple of pairs of skis would be added bonus.

Just to stir the waters, my initial suggestion was the Porsche Cayenne Turbo.  I tried to defend the Cayenne by stating that it had a better 0-60 mph time than the Aston Martin Vanquish only to be told off and reminded that this was a discussion on supercars, not supertrucks.  With the threat of being tossed out into the rain, we agreed to stick to the cars on the EVO supercar list.  The question then became, what attributes would a supercar need to have to make it winter friendly.  Four wheel drive was an easy one to agree on, the second was a bit of a contradiction.  Ideally it would need decent ground clearance.  Not really something most supercars are noted for.

At this point we just started listing cars that came to mind which we thought would fit the bill.  First up was the Audi R8 V10.  However a quick check of the EVO Supercar list put an end to R8’s hopes. Too bad as I did think the R8 V10 would have been a serious contender.  The Bentley Continental GT was up next, same fate as the R8 though.  Finally using the EVO list as a guide, the five that did make the first cut  were the Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari FF, Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Gallardo, and Lamborghini Aventador.  The need for some ground clearance narrowed the list down to the 911 Turbo and the FF pretty quickly.  I have driven the 911 Turbo and FF in dry and wet conditions.  In both conditions, they are brilliant and grip is more than ample.  Snow however is another issue altogether and I have zero experience with either on roads covered in the white mushy stuff.  Hence a final recommendation was not something I was in a position to give.

A bit of research on winter road tests for the two contenders indicated that both the Porsche and Ferrari are very sure footed in the messy stuff.  The combination of 4 wheel drive with state of the art stability and anti-lock brake systems that both cars are equipped with get the job done highly competently.  Only issue, I could not find a single group test that compared the two on snow.  About the only thing I could find that would tilt the field in either direction was the fact that the FF has a hatch so you can carry a ski bag in the back.  Nice feature but something more performance based should determine the winner.  Essentially, based on the information available, it looks like a tossup between the two, and that is where we netted out.

It does sound like a great topic for a group test.  Maybe then we will have a clear winner.


Post Script

With temperatures still in the single digits as April rapidly approaches, it appears winter has no intention of going away anytime soon.  After several recent drives out in supercars devoid of modern electronics on nearly frozen roads requiring both a high degree of skill and concentration to keep things pointed in the right direction, what other options should be considered came back to mind.  While the Ferrari FF and Porsche 911 Turbo are still the leading contenders (if the Audi R8 V10 gets promoted to the Supercar list it would also be a front runner), perhaps a mid engine 2WD coupe with advanced stability systems might not be a bad option either. I do have one close friend who swears his Ferrari 360 Spider is brilliant in the snow.  He claims that having the engine near the rear wheels gives it both great traction and balance.  On paper it actually does make some sense.  After all, Ferrari originally ran their On Ice Winter Driving Program using 430s.   If it works on a 360 & 430, then with the advances in stability control systems it should be even better on the latest generation of supercars.  With this in mind a quick scan of the EVO Supercar list through up a few new options, the Ferrari 458, Lexus LFA, & the McLaren 12C.  While all 3 have state of the art traction control systems, the air brake and brake steering on the 12C might give it an interesting advantage over the other two.   At a minimum it would make for a very interesting “On Ice” group test.  As "Global Colding" seems to be here to stay, a supercar that you can use year round in all conditions is becoming more and more appealing.


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skier33 at 8:05 AM April 1, 2013

nice postscript. why not go for the R8's supercar cousin? the gallardo. it is certainly less of a handful (and at times less fun) than a 430/458 in the wet, so should do well in the snow as well. the traction control on the latest generation of cars are amazing though. i can see the yellow light flashing but can hardly feel any loss of power when being somewhat heavy footed in a 458 coming out of a corner in race mode

Markcoopers at 8:39 PM November 11, 2012

I would class today as a Winters day, did 170miles in my ferrari Mondial T, so that gets my vote. And it is super in my book just in case anyone was to ask

Chinto at 11:28 AM November 11, 2012

David Yu: You are very familiar with the GT-R as well as other supercars. I would like to hear your opinion on this: I loved the GT-R to bits - extraordinarily fast on any road in any weater, easy to drive, and with a very communicative and adjustable rear end. However, I found the front end to be vague and "heavy", meaning that it was hard to judge what entry speed I could have into corners, a problem that was very prominent in tight, slow hairpins. Is this an impression you share?

David_Yu at 9:46 AM November 10, 2012

Although it certainly performs like one, the GT-R is not defined as a supercar by most. With decent tyres it is extremely capable on snow, although probably no better than the Bentley. I don't like the idea of the Heath Robinson FWD take off on the FF with only 2 gears and slipping clutches and the fact it cuts out at high speed. Remember the Stig's high speed off on snow? If prestige and a decent interior is important, then the Conti GT is a winner, if having fun on the roads on the way to the ski resort is a priority, then GT-R!

typeonemb at 1:29 AM November 9, 2012

Greetings from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A member of a web group that I am in posted this picture today, so your timing is great. Cheers

LAX at 10:11 PM November 8, 2012

991 turbo (MY2014).

KSoism at 8:02 PM November 8, 2012

Well,first you can ditch everything that you can't get good, real studded winter tyres for. Rwd car with studded tyres will be alot faster than 4wd with poor winter rubber. Let alone summer tyres, it makes no difference if you got 50 or 500bhp if it's slippery. since it takes out most of the exotics, I'd say Porsche. But you'd have more fun with some old 200bhp rwd car, which you don't mind getting few dents....

summerhaven at 7:45 PM November 8, 2012

The GTR is almost 2 tons, but has the super clever 4wd. I would tend to think the that the Bentley is too heavy but that's just in theory. The 911 C4 or Turbo would be ideal, I imagine. The Quattro would be interesting as well.

skierjames at 6:46 PM November 8, 2012

The guy GREGG talks of has the right idea: He's called Jon Olsson and competes in ski racing as well as frestyle. During the winter he tours round europe in that R8. If only EVO included the R8 as a supercar...

Gonk at 6:21 PM November 8, 2012

Not exactly in the same league as the metal SSO looks for (his yearly fleet running costs are probably higher than the price of a new one!), but my trusty Mitusbishi Evo IX has been great in the dry, wet, and snow. Sub 4-secs to 60, permanent 4wd, 5 seats and 4 doors, and I even have a button that lets me put the AYC into snow mode!Pity the interior is inferior to the latest Fiesta :(Would love an Evo test answering SSO's dilemma though, and as winter is coming is the time to do it!

Chinto at 3:25 PM November 8, 2012

There is more to winter driving than 4WD, chassis electronics and ground clearance. Ideally, a winter supercar should have a manual transmission, as this enables more precise throttle control. In snowy conditions, you are basically driving at the limit all the time, so throttle control is essential. The car should not be too heavy, because when two tonnes starts to slide on ice, it is almost impossible to regain control. Also, tyre size matters. A Bugatti Veyron would be crap simply because the tires are far too wide, meaning it basically turns into a unsteerable sleigh. I have driven a GT-R in very slippery conditions here in Norway, and it was extremely impressive though slightly nervous at high speed. The worst car I've ever driven in the snow is an 80's Mercedes E-class. I have never been more afraid, even though I drove at half the speed my MK1 Golf was able to do in the same conditions.

Flat6 at 2:23 PM November 8, 2012

I live in Scandinavia and as much as the FF is a cracking car, the Bentley AWD system is considerably quicker on the white stuff. The admittedly light approach Ferrari has taken means it can only ever throw 20% at the front wheels. Not surprising then considering their background in all-pawed that a 997 Turbo blows the door handles off both. Likewise although an FF has a ski-slot from the boot through between the rear seats, a 911 was made for real roof racks and a top-box- something few other cars can claim. If some more rear leg-room is your thing then a Panamera GTS works but for my money it's a 991 C4S (ideally with the X51 Powerkit). I challenge any other 'supercar' on the market to take 2 adults and 2 kids skiing in the same level of pace and style.

GREGG at 1:39 PM November 8, 2012

I brought up a similar topic a while ago. I Ski teach in Courchevel ski resort, France, in the winter and you see Bentley Continental GT's everywhere. Till last year when 3 brand new Ferrari FF's got dropped off at the bottom of the slope all with monaco number plates, no surprises there! No doubt i will see more of them this season and agree with it being the best supercar for the winter. Although i did see a DB9 on snow tyres last year and there is one man who uses a BMW 1series with snow tyres imported from finland, i like his stye! There is also a freestyle skier who has had a Nissan GTR, Modified Audi R8 and several Lamborghini, i have pictures on my page, so can use what you want if your brave enough! Any Audi quattro is the sensible choice but if i had supercar money i would also have a rally car, 300bhp in the snow seams ok for Loeb so would do for me!

articulatedjunk at 11:33 AM November 8, 2012

The right answer is a rally car, which points to the Ur-Quattro. It can handle skis and boots with no problem, and the interior is not too nice to worry about. It has plenty of power for snow/rain driving (who needs 500+ horsepower in the winter?). Most important, it would be much more fun for me to drive in the snow and the wet than any of the above, including the Cayenne. Sometimes the originals are the best. And whatever EVO says, the Quattro is the original all-weather supercar.

Bunta at 11:15 AM November 8, 2012

Chuck a GTR into the mix as well - Henry drove one all over the UK in the snow and it did ok.

theotherkenneth at 7:35 AM November 8, 2012

evo 056. I remember thinking it was rather strange, and didn't actually look very fun, when Harry drove a Lamborghini Murcielago in the snow. Right tool for the job and what not. Much as I hate to admit it, think you had it right with the Cayenne call in the first place. Like a sportsbike, or shorts, a supercar just isn't meant for all seasons. Sure you COULD, it just doesn't that fun to me.

Visceral1111 at 7:15 AM November 8, 2012

Almost a Freudian slip that evo put the 911 Turbo as a supercar but neglected to include the R8 v10. Explain that one Mr. Trott :)...

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