Porsche Camp4 Canada offers winter driving excitement

Porsche Camp4 911 door
Camp4 teaches people proper winter driving technique behind the wheel of Caymans, 911 Carreras and Carrera 4s. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

There’s pretty much nothing more exhilarating than driving a Porsche. Except driving a Porsche on snow and ice.

That’s exactly the kind of experience Porsche Camp4 Canada offers. Run out of the frozen Mécaglisse racetrack in Quebec, about 90 minutes outside of Montreal, Camp4 originally started as a press drive event held in Finland for the launch of the 911 Carrera 4. It was such a hit with participants that it grew into an annual two-day training course, open to the public, and is now also held in Switzerland, Italy and even China.

Porsche Camp4 banners

Taking place over five different waves, we were fortunate to be part of a contingent of media guests invited to a condensed version of this year’s program. Camp4 is every bit as much about providing a luxury getaway as it is driving instruction, and attendees stay at the nearby beautiful Estérel Suites & Spa. Meals at the resort, as well transportation to and from the track, are included in the cost of admission.

The day got off to an early start, and before boarding a shuttle for an approximate 35-minute ride to Mécaglisse, a theory briefing was held at the hotel to cover driving technique. Head instructor Jonathan Urlin spoke at length about vehicle dynamics and car control.

Porsche Camp4 911 Carrera 4 GTS instructor car

“Your instructors today will be talking a lot about weight transfer, and what they will have you do is induce these drifts, these oversteers, by using the brake pedal,” said Urlin.

“Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Here’s the explanation — anybody can go out there, hit the gas pedal, spin the rear tires, do the Tokyo Drift stuff and it looks cool, it’s fun. But here at Camp4, What we do we focus on driver technique. In the rally world for example, what we do to get through a corner is by using weight transfer to the nose of the car to allow the car to rotate. And it’s what we call an oversteer.”

Porsche Camp4 Cayman GTS

Urlin also talked about the three different cars that would be used in the event, and how they all perform differently, particularly in frozen conditions: a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive Cayman GTS, a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera GTS and an all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4 GTS.

Post-briefing, it was time to get into the cars. Drivers were paired off and put into different groups, and assigned to specific vehicles for the duration of the various activities. My group started off at a station focused on using the brakes and steering to purposely unbalance the Porsches, and then learning how to recover safely from a skid. Afterwards, it was attempting to drive around a circular portion of the track without losing control. Before lunch, we practiced sliding around a series of cones in a short slalom.     

Porsche Camp4 911 Carrera GTS

Following the break, the course was reconfigured into one continuous leg with different sections incorporating all the skills we were taught throughout the morning.

People who complete the standard Camp4 school, known as the Precision level, are eligible to register for the two other intermediate winter programs that Porsche offers, including the Performance (Camp4S) and Masters (Camp4RS). For more information about dates and prices, visit the website

LA Auto Show 2015 reimagines three vehicles

LA Auto Show 2015 concourse
LA Auto Show 2015 hosted 33 vehicle world debuts, including a convertible crossover and modern day dune buggy. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

Just down the coast from us, the LA Auto Show (LAAS) — on until Nov. 29 — enters its 108th year and continues to establish itself as one of the biggest venues on the show circuit for industry announcements and vehicle debuts. This year features lots of different takes on models people know in love, and we share three of OpenRoad’s favourites.

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

When you imagine open air driving, I doubt you think of a roofless Range Rover Evoque, ploughing down a muddy slope. Yet, here it is in all of its drop top SUV glory, the first of its kind to join the lineup.

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible side

Marketed as something for people who know no boundaries, what’s truly shocking is that the Evoque sans roof actually looks quite good from all angles. The fabric top folds flush into the rear deck for a clean appearance, and the doors are frameless giving the SUV a sharp silhouette.

The four-seater boasts 240 horsepower and a nine-speed transmission, and will start at $64,990 when it arrives in Canadian dealerships in spring 2016.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Some may remember fondly back to the 60s or 70s when dune buggies were all the rage, shown in magazines and on TV screens zipping along sandy shorelines driven by tanned, fun-loving beachgoers. Volkswagen is trying to bring that feeling back with the introduction of the new Beetle Dune.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune side

There is perhaps no better venue than California to launch what VW calls its “first crossover model since the Beetle was introduced over 80 years ago.” Key features include a raised ride height, unique bumpers, black wheel arch flares, body protection trim and two new colours such as the pictured Sandstorm Yellow.

The Dune will be available as either a coupe or convertible, and goes on sale early 2016.

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport

First there was the Porsche Cayman. Then we saw the Cayman S, the Cayman GTS and recently, the GT4. What crazier, racier version could it possibly come in? The answer: the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

Before you break out the piggybank, it should be noted that the Clubsport is intended for track use rather than Sunday drives and work commutes. This 3.8-litre, 385 hp Cayman’s chassis has been modified for use on the circuit, as well as its already massive brakes enlarged further. Weight reduction has also been thrown in for good measure.

Look for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport participating in races worldwide for the 2016 season. 

LA Auto Show 2015 hallway

OpenRoad's Frankfurt Motor Show 2015 top picks


Visitors inspect automobile manufacturers’ latest wares at IAA 2015, which runs now until Sept. 27 in Frankfurt, Germany.

The 66th annual Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), or Frankfurt Motor Show, is in full swing right now in Germany. There have been dozens of new vehicles and concept debuts since the show opened a few days ago, but we picked out a handful that are particularly intriguing. Here are OpenRoad’s top three cars from this year’s IAA.

Porsche Mission E

Porsche has been very interested lately in the field of hybrid technology, evidenced by their release of several partially electric models last year. The Mission E concept car, however, is the brand’s first four-seater that is completely powered by electricity. With a range of over 500 kilometres on one charge, it only takes approximately 15 minutes to replenish 80 per cent of the battery thanks to Porsche’s unique 800-volt turbo charging system.

Porsche Mission E rear

Key stats

Horsepower: 600

Powertrain: two permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM)

Transmission: all-wheel drive

Seats: four

Fun fact: A camera mounted to the rear-view mirror detects the driver’s mood.

Mazda KOERU concept


Before you ask — KOERU means “exceed” or “go beyond” in Japanese, which is what the company is trying to do with their latest crossover concept. It has Mazda’s current KODO styling written all over it, but also includes a few twists like the rings around the LED headlights that are supposed to resemble an untamed animal. As usual, engine specifics aren’t being disclosed but expect some form of SKYACTIV.

Mazda KOERU concept rear

Key stats

Horsepower: ?

Powertrain: ?

Transmission: ?

Seats: five

Fun fact:  The KOERU is rumoured to lead to a three-door CX-4 model, or a new CX-7 or CX-9.

Toyota C-HR Concept

Toyota C-HR

Consumers’ appetites for compact, fuel-efficient crossovers the world over continue to grow, and Toyota is hoping to capitalize on that with the C-HR Concept hybrid. The automaker has stated plainly they are looking to bring a new model to market, and hope to have a production-ready model to announce in a matter of months. Few specifics are known at this point besides the dimensions: 4,350 millimetres (length); 1,850 mm (width); 1,500 mm (height); 2,640 mm (wheelbase).

Toyota C-HR side

Key stats

Horsepower: ?

Powertrain: ?

Transmission: ?

Seats: five

Fun fact: The original concept featured a three-door design with a blue and black roof.