Escaping the heat

Extreme ways to avoid the Australian summer heat next year.

While Australia bakes in the middle of its summer, on the other side of the world, the Audi ice driving experience slides into top gear, as participants take on the slipperiest driving surface on Earth amidst the splendour of the Austrian Alps.

29 November, 2023

'There is nothing quite like the experience of driving on ice to focus the attention'

At the start of each year, while Australians are applying sunscreen and planning all manner of water sports during their summer break, on the other side of the world, the snow is falling and the lakes have turned turned to ice in the breathtaking Austrian Alps. 

The perfect environment for the Audi ice driving experience, it is here on a frozen lake in Seefled that Audi Australia’s Chief Driving Instructor, Steve Pizzati, hosts a group of Australian guests each year for what is undoubtedly one of the most popular of the Audi driving experience programs.

Driving the brand’s high-performance models on what is the most treacherous surface on earth is an irresistible combination for motoring enthusiasts and the just plain curious alike. The combination of the stunning surroundings and the lifestyle aspects of the week-long trip, coupled with the immersive performance driving program creating one of those ‘bucket list’ experiences that simply can’t be duplicated in Australia.

“There is nothing quite like the experience of driving on ice to focus the attention,” says Pizzati, who has hosted countless trips to the Audi driving experience winter campus.

“This experience is quite unlike anything we offer in Australia for obvious reasons, but the benefits of coming to terms with car control in this environment are far reaching and a tremendous amount of fun,” he says.

In 2024, the Audi ice driving experience will be held from January 29th through to February 3rd, with a maximum of 20 guests.

For three days, the participants are put through a series of increasingly complex driving exercises under the watchful eyes of the Audi driving experience instructors. They build both skills and confidence as they go, making full use of the famous quattro all-wheel drive on the high-performance RS models used for the experience, which, since last year have taken the form of the mighty RS 5 Sportback and the all-electric RS e-tron GT. 

Two very different vehicles despite coming from the revered Audi Sport performance stable, being able to cycle between the traditional ICE performance of the RS 5 Sportback and the state-of-the-art all-electric capabilities of the RS e-tron GT adds another level to the driver training and the experience overall.

“Last year was the first year with the RS e-tron GT offered as part of the experience and it was interesting to see just how it performed against a tried and tested performer in the RS 5,” says Pizzati.

“The two cars are very much from different ends of the spectrum, with the light, agile  RS 5 up against the bigger grand tourer in the GT with more power. And that instantaneous throttle response makes a huge difference when you drive the RS e-tron GT, coupled with its low centre of gravity, making for a huge difference on the ice.”

“Certainly, both have far more power than is necessary on ice – but who doesn’t love having too much power?”

Regardless of the model or quattro, special tyres with studs are a must on this surface, and even then, judicious throttle control and steering inputs make all the difference.

Even with what seem to be an unfair advantage in the traction stakes, it takes very little to ‘come unstuck’ on the ice, but it’s for that very reason people travel from all over the world to learn the intricacies of car control from the best.

Of course it’s not all slaloms and power slides on the ice. In keeping with the Audi style, the trip takes in the sights, tastes and sensations of this breathtaking region, with guests staying in the finest accommodation and enjoying the best of local fare during their trip.

Even with quattro and studded tyres, judicious throttle control and steering inputs are essential

Culminating in a motorkhana competition – held over a huge course covering the entire ice arena

The Audi ice driving experience is held over six days, with three full days dedicated to time out on the ice. The trip begins in Munich before heading north to Ingolstadt and the home of Audi for a tour of the production facility on the vast Audi campus, the delivery centre and the famous Audi museum mobile. After a night in Ingolstadt staying at the historic Hotel Adler – which boasts more than 500 years as an inn – it’s time to head for the Alps.

Here, in the impossibly beautiful mountains, the group will be based at the Alpin Resort Sacher in Seefeld for the next four nights, going through their paces on the ice during the day, and enjoying fine food and traditional Tyrolean hospitality in the evenings.

Each day’s driving is split between morning and afternoon sessions, with participants breaking to discuss their progress over lunch back at the resort, before returning for the afternoon session. Each day builds on the one before until at the end of the final day, all of the exercises come together for the final chapter, culminating in a motorkhana competition – held over a huge course covering the entire ice arena.

“It’s always great to see how far everyone has come by the time we reach the final motorkhana,” says Pizzati.

“That initial nervousness is gone and skills that have been gained or honed are put to the test in the spirit of friendly competition.

“Regardless of their previous driving experience, it’s an experience that never fails to leave a lasting and positive impression,” he says.

So, while Australia swelters next January, where better to be than out on the ice. 

Final places available – learn more or book your place on the coming Audi ice driving experience to take your driving skills to the next level – and avoid the summer heat.