Northern Exposure: Winter Weather Car Advice winter driving auto articles
Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

Article and Photos by Justin Pritchard

Winter has dumped its frigid, grey nastiness all over us Canucks – leaving us to shovel, trudge and freeze for several more months before glorious warm weather is once again upon us.

As I sat in my office, watching the snow-plow seal the end of my driveway with a four-foot bank after last night’s dumping and contemplating how I could spend the rest of the winter indoors, I reflected back on some assorted winter topics I’ve wondered and written about over the past years as a Northern Ontario–based automotive writer.

Some of the below will help you understand and learn about new rides, how they’re built to perform in the winter and how you might, as a driver, derive a little more enjoyment from your winter travels.

And so I present, for your perusal and approval, a medley of wintertime topics. A care package, if you will. Here’s a selection of quick stories and features to think about, discuss, understand and learn – all related to wintertime motoring.

Northern Exposure: Winter Weather Car Advice winter driving auto articles
Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

Winter Topic 1: How to Enjoy the Audi RS5 When Stuck Behind a Snow Plow

Crap. A pair of snowplows. And just when I was starting to enjoy driving the week’s Audi RS5 tester on Highway 69, just south of Parry Sound, Ontario, in the most blizzardy of blizzards.

Now, instead of smugly leading a pack of traffic as slush and ice passed beneath the foot-wide winter tires, I’d spend god-knows-how-long going about 7 km/h in a mile-long train of salty impatience.

Crap crap crap.

Forced to sit back, relax, and get peppered with winter road slop, I discovered a few different ways that one might enjoy an RS5 when the 450 horsepower, 8,500 revs and Quattro-derived traction would, mostly, go to waste until the plows pulled off for a coffee break.

Northern Exposure: Winter Weather Car Advice winter driving auto articles
Northern Exposure: Winter Weather Car Advice winter driving auto articles
Audi RS5. Click image to enlarge

Make People Point at the Spoiler: The RS5 has a rear fin spoiler that self-deploys when you exceed 120 km/h. There’s also a button to make it pop up and down any time you like. Click it repeatedly, and you can make it wave at the passengers in the car behind you. Most will point with a concerned look on their face, wondering what the heck is going on. Some will wave back.

Play Music With the Paddle Shifters: The RS5 has a seven-speed transmission that shifts in a blink – making the rich and meaty exhaust note change pitch up and down faster than Niki Minaj’s auto-tune machine. Holding your speed steady, click away on the paddles a few times to get the revs twitching up and down, complete with blurping, gurgly noises in between. With enough practice, you can play a song from the RS5’s tailpipes for your fellow motorists.

Have a tiff with the Voice Command Lady: Press the button, and ask the voice that responds for something absurd, like a cheeseburger. When the pretty female voice advises you that she can’t process your request, press the button again, and ask for driving directions to New Zealand. Continue asking for unreasonable things until the system ignores you. Toss in a few random insults for fun.

Rediscover your Favourite Music: RS5’s Bang and Olufsen stereo system doesn’t have 1.21 jigawatts and a trunkful of subwoofers, but it is vibrant, clear and extremely crisp. You’ll hear details in music you’ve never heard before – especially if playing back from a CD or DVD. And, chances are, you’ll run out of eardrum before this stereo runs out of horsepower. Clapton, Rise Against, Mumford and Sons and All That Remains all sounded fantastic. Incidentally, Clapton is some damn fine music for driving in a snowstorm.

Learn a New Language: Set the infotainment system to Spanish, German or Japanese in the settings menu. Then, try your hand at navigating through the various controls for the stereo, Bluetooth, navigation system or Audi Drive Select configurator. Played with enough, one can learn how handy words like “Satellite Radio”, “Destination”, “Phone Directory” and “Streaming Audio” look in an unfamiliar language.




About Justin Pritchard

Justin Pritchard is a full-time auto writer, consultant, broadcaster and AJAC member based in Sudbury. When not writing about the latest new models and industry trends, you'll probably find him fixing his Dodge Viper.