Winter Storm PAX aside, most of us prefer dry, warm roads with all-season tires. That’s how driving conditions are most of the time in North Carolina, and it’s certainly much easier to confidently drive in conditions that your tires are equipped to handle.
But what if you get a kick out of winter conditions? What if you have the experience and level-headedness to know how to handle snow and ice, and are looking for the right car to handle the winter months? Shouldn’t there be a vehicle that’s right for you?
The 2015 Golf R Euro Spec recently profiled in Motor Trend might be the car for you. The Euro Spec in the name means that this version will only be in Europe for a while, though we can expect it in the U.S. roughly a year from right now. As it’s a European version, you can bet that the snow and ice in the article are from Europe, as well—the test drive is in fact held in northern Sweden, right on the two-feet of ice that cover Lake Arvidsjaursjon.
But wait, we know what you’re thinking. If Raleigh acts like this with less than a foot of snow, how can a magazine writer, of all people, justify driving on two feet of ice? The answer is one part, “It’s Sweden, honey, they’re used to it,” and the other, “The Golf R can handle it.”
That confidence comes partly from a new iteration of Volkwagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Just as we’ve found this week that front-wheel drive is better than rear-wheel drive in winter conditions, all-wheel drive is even better. The Golf R’s new system is called Haldex coupling, and it works to make quick decisions on where to send torque between the front and rear tires. Also helpful is torque vectoring, which uses lightning-fast applications of the brakes to balance power across the vehicle’s wheels.
But what makes the Golf R most fun, paradoxically, is the new ability to completely turn off the electronic stability control feature that previous models would not let you do. Perhaps it was Volkswagen trying to look out for us like the parent it wanted to be, then finally deciding to let us spread our own wings. Whatever the reason, it appears that you can use above two systems while turning off ESC, and the result is a whole lot of exhilaration, particularly when you have several miles of frozen ice beneath you.
Alas, we can only read from the warmth of our offices about the Motor Trend writer’s pure joy at slaloming his way through curves, bends, S-turns and everything we want to do while wearing ice skates but only end up looking ridiculous attempting. Toggling between driver profiles—normal, individual and race—tuning the dampers right where you want them, and hearing the lusty yowl of the engine echo across the perfect stillness of subzero temperatures will have to wait until the U.S. version arrives next year and our own Lake Jordan freezes over (fingers crossed).