For northerners, where winters are cold and snow piles deep on the driveway overnight, traditionally sporty cars are a luxury that just doesn’t make sense for many. Low-slung and with mounds of torque, sporty cars usually shrink from winter driving like the wicked witch from water. There are, however, a few sporty cars that dare to traverse salty, slippery roads, and do so almost as easily as they do in the summer. These cars feature all-wheel drive coupled with traction control systems that would be at home on practically any winter rally course. In fact, much of the design from these vehicles is incorporated from the racing world.
2012 Subaru Impreza WRX Starting at $25,495
In the rally-racing world, the Subaru Impreza WRX stands as one of the pinnacles of racing achievement. Fortunately, much of the racing technology that went into the WRX rally cars is incorporated into the current street-version WRX sedan. As sporty cars go, the WRX not only provides loads of agility, both on dry pavement and on snow, but it does so without so much as a whisper of trouble. On winter driving roads that would make even the most capable SUV drivers think twice, the Subaru Impreza WRX plows through thanks to its powerful 265-horsepower Boxer engine coupled with a symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR Starting at $34,095
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has always been the Impreza’s foil. You could throw literally any test at both cars, and the result would be very much the same. For the 2012 model year, stepping up to the Evolution GSR might cost an extra $9,000 over the price of the WRX, but going all-out for a sporty car that’s capable of winter driving and impressing your co-workers is always a good thing. The Evolution GSR features a 291-horsepower engine mated to a five-speed transmission and Super All-Wheel Control, Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive system that keeps the engine’s turbocharged power planted firmly on the ground.
2012 Audi TT RS Coupe Starting at $56,850
As sporty cars go that are suitable for winter driving, the Audi TT might not be the vehicle that springs to mind. It has more of a sports car demeanor than the Lancer or the Impreza thanks to its two-door configuration, and its 360-horsepower, direct-injected engine is a handful even on dry roads, much less icy, slick winter driving roads. Thankfully, Audi already thought of those problems and provided the driver of this six-speed road rocket with the ability to flip on the “sanity switch,” otherwise known as “traction control.” Doing so activates the numerous traction control systems that keep the Audi TT RS on the road, and probably know how to drive better than you do, particularly in icy, slick conditions. Quattro all-wheel drive has been an Audi mainstay since rally racing began, and the TT RS utilizes the technology to superb effect, regardless of your personal driving ability.
2012 Porsche Carrera 4 GTS Starting at $110,200
Madness. Sheer madness. What inhuman powers would bring a Porsche owner to pull their beloved supercar out from under its chenille cover for a romp through the snow? As it turns out, the inhumane power resides within the Porsche Carrera 4 GTS itself. A mainstay on the European rally circuit, the four-wheel drive version of the Carrera GTS is as capable of dominating slick winter driving roads as it is cruising the coast highway during an August hot spell. The Carrera 4 GTS features a 408-horsepower engine that vaults the Porsche to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds. Thanks to its rear-engine layout, all that power will find its way firmly to the pavement because the engine’s weight is positioned just behind the center point of the car’s rear wheels. A host of traction-control aids help slightly inexperienced drivers keep that power on the road where it belongs, and allow you to easily field questions concerning your sanity when people see you driving your new Porsche through four inches of snow.
Porsche: 2012 Porsche Carrera 4 GTS: www.porsche.com
Audi: 2012 Audi TT RS: www.audiusa.com
Mitsubishi: 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: www.mitsubishicars.com
Subaru: 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX: www.subaru.com