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Drive a Porsche in winter? Yes you can

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Michel Deslauriers
The answer to this question would definitely not have been the same 15 years ago. To some, driving a Porsche through slush and snow is a sin, while others just think it’s hazardous. The 911 has a reputation of being a tricky car to drive with its rear-drive, rear-engine configuration, but that’s changed. Sort of.

Photo: Matthieu Lambert/

We wish we could’ve taken pictures of fellow motorists who were staring at us and pointing their heads as if we were crazy to be driving around during the last couple of weeks in a yellow Boxster S, a blue Cayman and a red Cayman S. And during that time, we’ve been through it all: warm temperatures, freezing rain, snow and arctic-circle-cold mornings.

What has changed in the last 15 years? Thanks to progress, many modern sports cars are now equipped with electronic stability control, which Porsche calls PSM in their models. With this type of system, even the 911 can be driven safely through the winter months, provided you don’t deactivate the PSM just for s**ts and giggles.

Does PSM take away the fun of driving a Porsche? No, because it performs admirably well. It’s permissive, which means the Boxster and Cayman’s hindquarters will kick out as the rear wheels scramble for traction, and right before things get ugly, PSM steps in to save the day like a super hero. A flick of the wheel in the opposite direction, and the car is back in line.

A great stability control system is one that modulates engine power to the wheels instead of shutting it down completely, which unsettles the vehicle and startles the driver. The PSM does a wonderful job, allowing just the right amount of power in almost all situations.

The Boxster and Cayman also enjoy a near-perfect weight distribution, which makes them a lot easier to control. And you also need a good set of winter tires, of course, and Porsche dealers carry various wheel and tire packages that range from $2,800 to $6,000, depending on size and the alloy wheel model you choose. The selection of low-profile winter tires wasn’t nearly as wide 15 years ago as it is today.

Photo: Matthieu Lambert/
Michel Deslauriers
Michel Deslauriers
Automotive expert