Just about the last thing you’d expect to hear piercing the silence of the snowy Dolomites surrounding the quaint Italian town of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the shriek of 10- and 12-cylinder Lamborghinis. But here we are at a makeshift racetrack carved from ice and snow, attempting to tame three strikingly powerful sports cars: Lamborghini’s mantis like Aventador LP 700-4, race-inspired Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, and angular Gallardo LP 560-4.
Unlike cold-weather driving schools hosted by more obvious (and terrestrial) manufacturers, Lamborghini’s Winter Driving Academy throws six-figure supercars against forbidding terrain and snow-banked competition courses to underscore the real-world usability of these exotic offerings and to inspire proper usage under challenging conditions. The key to this unlikely pairing lies in Lamborghini’s “-4” nomenclature, which designates the inclusion of all-wheel drive. Thanks to the technology, these swoopy Italian creations offer compelling (if overpowered) ways to dash—and sometimes crash—through the snow. Perhaps it’s their haunting exhaust notes or their precious bodywork, but taking control of a Lamborghini under inclement conditions inevitably inspires an extra helping of sweaty-palmed excitement.
The three-day, two-night program includes accommodations, meals, and plenty of seat time in the aforementioned beasts from Sant d’Agata Bolognese. The price is €5,950 (approximately $7,800); guests are an extra €550 (approximately $725), and they can participate in meals and activities except driving. Prep time is delightfully brief, consisting of a 20-minute post-dinner chat before two days of driving. Once drivers are behind the wheel of the Gallardos and Aventadors, instructors give tips and techniques from the passenger seat on how to rustle up to 691 hp under traction-compromised conditions.
The task proves harder than it looks, and the art of car control takes on a surreally challenging twist when flinging these high-tech supercars across slippery surfaces. Lamborghini’s mechanical underpinnings are powerful enough to necessitate a supremely delicate touch, even though traction is aided by small metal studs fitted to the tires. Stab the throttle too hard, and the tail goes spinning; slam the brake enthusiastically, and the car plows forward—all with fairly harmless consequences. One participant crashed through a snowbank, sending piles of the wet fluffy stuff inside the cabin of the open-air Gallardo Spyder. And though minor damage like shorn bumpers and incidental abrasions are inevitable, the cars prove durable, not dainty, capable of drifting and powering their way across unlikely surfaces when negotiated with just the right combination of assertiveness and restraint.
Not to be outdone, Ferrari has announced its own high-performance cold-weather driving program in conjunction with its first all-wheel-drive model, the FF. Let the exotic winter driving games begin. (www.lamborghiniacademy.com)