The School of Snow and Ice Driving

The School of Snow and Ice Driving

Thanks to smart all-wheel drive, ŠKODA’s modern vehicles won’t get lost even beyond the Arctic Circle. Learn how to get the most out of them.

1. 3. 2018 Models

The complete line of ŠKODA all-wheel drive models spent this last winter at the very north point of Finland, beyond the Arctic Circle. Hans-Joachim Stuck, a living legend in motorsports, also took part in testing this state-of-the-art generation of ŠKODA’s all-wheel drive. Triple-winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, triple-winner of the 24 Hours Nürburgring race, Formula One driver, and the winner of a number of other car races. For this occasion, he decided to share several valuable lessons gained from driving in tough conditions.

As Stuck himself says: “Driving on snow and ice is very much like racing, because you’re always pushing the car and the tires to their limits.” Take a look at how it was to drive ŠKODA’s fast cars in frozen Finland, and his advice to all drivers:

Hans-Joachim Stuck

race car driver

7 tips for driving on snow and ice

1. Drive smoothly
In severe winter conditions, your car is always at the limits of its traction. When suddenly turning or braking on a slippery road, the sudden shift of the car’s weight from one side to the other can easily overcome the tires’ traction and they won’t maintain their direction. Give your car time to respond to changes in speed and direction, and be a decisive driver but gentle and fluent as well.


2. Go in slow, come out quick
Not even all-wheel drive will help you if you turn into the curve too fast. Slow down when approaching the curve so that the front wheels can turn the car into the curve without sliding. After that, you can take full advantage of the benefits of all-wheel drive. While you can step on the gas at the very end of a curve in a front-wheel drive, gradually giving it gas in a 4x4 during the curve helps prevent a frontal skid. The power on the rear wheels naturally turns the car into the curve, and the distribution of the engine’s power to all the wheels makes it possible to accelerate and turn simultaneously. This makes it possible to maintain a significantly higher speed, especially when coming out of the curve.


3. Work with the shifting weight
The load of the individual wheels is crucial to the stability of the car and its ability to turn. For example, if you brake just before the curve, the weight of the car moves forward with the momentum, bearing down on the front wheels and giving them more grip. When you accelerate, most of the weight is in the rear. When taking a curve, the outer wheels are always bearing more weight, so ŠKODA’s smart all-wheel drive automatically sends them more torque. It’s also true that the more comfortable the selected chassis mode is, the stronger the weight shifts are.


4. Let your car do what it wants
On a slippery road, each car has more momentum and slower reactions than on dry asphalt. This is why you shouldn’t be startled when the steering doesn’t respond immediately, if the wheels slide a bit, or if your car skids a little to the side. Let your car respond naturally and don’t try to overcompensate it with sharp steering or braking – the car will only evaluate this as a crisis situation and it’ll start to unnecessarily brake and straighten itself out. When you’re calm and confident, you can enjoy a safe ride and still take it to the limit. It’s like a dance, when one movement flows continuously into the next. Give in to the rhythm!


5. Gas is better than the brakes
When a driver feels startled or unsure, the natural reaction is to hit the brakes. In the snow and especially on ice, however, you’ll have very little control over a braking car with locked wheels. This is why in most situations it’s better to slow down simply by taking your foot off the gas and braking with the engine. Sometimes, the best solution might even be to give it more gas, at least for more experienced drivers. All-wheel drive makes it possible to maneuver the car while giving it gas, even when the wheels lose traction.


6. You’ve got to feel the car
In winter, the connection between car and the driver is more important than ever. The key is getting into the right position behind the steering wheel; that means sitting upright, elbows at right angles, hands on the steering wheel at nine and three o’clock, and legs slightly bent even when you’re pressing the pedal. This is the only position where the driver is able to feel the car’s gentle movements, detect any loss of traction in time, and react with the steering wheel gently and smoothly. Wearing a winter jacket makes you lose sensitivity, of course, and snow on the bottom of your shoes can cause your foot to slip off the pedal.


7. Choose the right mode
To make the most of the car’s abilities, it’s also important to choose the right driving mode and the vehicle’s settings based on what you’re expecting from the drive. The sportier setting of an electronic stability system, for example, uses the brakes less in the snow due to the fact that it tolerates more skid and partial rear drifts. For cars with a DCC adaptive chassis, use the Normal setting; the shocks are softer and the wheels copy the terrain better on the icy surface and snow.



How does the ŠKODA all-wheel drive work?

The exceptionally user-friendly all-wheel-drive handling of ŠKODA vehicles is the result of careful fine-tuning of a wide range of mechanical and electronic systems. Each ŠKODA model boasts a specific drive tuning that’s custom tailored to its driving characteristics and components used.

Inter-axle multi-plate clutch
The core of the ŠKODA 4×4 intelligent all-wheel drive system is an electronically controlled fifth-generation inter-axle multi-plate clutch. The momentary driving situation is constantly evaluated by a number of sensors, and all values are processed by the all-wheel drive control electronics. Thanks to the inter-axle clutch, these electronics are able to change the transmission of torque between the front and rear axles within milliseconds to ensure the optimal distribution of driving power. Moreover, the system works proactively, so the constant data input enables it to prepare the all-wheel drive for an anticipated situation.


This system, which basically simulates the self-locking differential function, is a superstructure of the EDS system. It usually comes into play at moments when the inner wheels become lighter during cornering. The XDS+ brakes the lightened wheels, preventing it from spinning. This results in much better traction around the curve.


Electronic Differential Lock (EDS/EDL)
This is an integral part of the ŠKODA 4×4 drive that’s active on the front and rear axles. It intervenes at lower speeds when one wheel spins on its axle. The system brakes the spinning wheel, thus transferring more torque to the second wheel with better traction.



ESC, Electronic Stability Control
The stability system uses sensors to constantly evaluate the car’s current driving dynamics and driving direction. If a slide skid, frontal skid, or other dangerous situation occurs, the vehicle is able to immediately apply the brakes to stabilize and direct itself to the desired driving direction, independently of the driver. If necessary, the ESC mode will interrupt the power flow between the engine and the wheels. Electronic stabilization has saved many lives.


ESC Sport
This more benevolent mode of the stabilization system allows you to have a proper bit of fun on the snow. The imaginary eyes of the ESC Sport mode are in the steering wheel. If you steer smoothly, the system will understand that you’ve got things under control and allow you to take a turn with a light skid after a quick step on the gas. All the same, we recommend using this mode on a closed track only.


TCS, Traction System Control
This system limits the spin of the driven wheels. The TCS is always on by default and is an important assistant during driving, especially on slippery surfaces. There are situations, however, such as driving on rough terrain or in deeper snow, when wheel spin is desirable. In this case, the driver can press a button to deactivate the system.


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