There are quite a few of these winter driving experiences located all over the world. Which seems a bit odd to talk about considering it’s blazing hot outside right now here in the states. However, down in the Southern Hemisphere, specifically Queensland, New Zealand, it’s the middle of the winter and Mercedes-AMG is taking advantage of that by throwing one hell of a party. They are calling it AMG Snow and it’s one of the many stops on the Festival of AMG held in that region of the world. It’s a three day event that involves a lot of high end pampering, and more importantly a lot of high performance snow driving.
The event takes place roughly 35 miles outside of Queensland at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds, which is located at the top of the Pisa Mountain range. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, the area provides vast snow and ice covered tracks where you can learn the art of car control as you learn the extent of your driving abilities. When you reach your limits, AMG driving instructors are there to help take you to the next level.
The first day is setup just to to get checked into your hotel and acquainted to the area, fairly basic stuff. It’s the second day that really matters, and what you signed up for in the first place. Starting around 8 am you have a drivers briefing where they teach you the basics before setting you loose out on the snow fields. They specifically request that you turn the ESP off (traction control) so both you and your driving instructor know your skill level behind the wheel.
Once you’ve completed the morning session, it’s off to a catered lunch before heading back out to the snow fields for the afternoon session. It’s here that you can really start to push the limits with more speed, more challenges and more input from the instructors. By the time they are done with you, you’ll be a seasoned pro that can rub shoulders with the best in the business. At least you’ll feel that way even though it’s not true. Then as a perfect finish to a perfect day, you get to experience hot laps on the snow course by a professional driver and it’s here that you get humbled and you realize that while your significantly better than you were, you’re still a long ways off being on a pro level.
You’ll have the option of three different cars when gracefully sliding around; the A45 hot hatchback, the CLA45, and the best option in my opinion, the C63 S. All of which are the AMG models, so therefore are high performance beasts tuned to perfection. The A and CLA have a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder rated at 381hp and that is a ton of power for such small vehicles. Though there is one main reason why I said the C63S was my personal favorite, and that’s the 4.0L bi-turbo V8 that’s pushing out a staggering 503hp. Driving anything in slippery snowy conditions is fun without a doubt, but driving something with 503hp on tap is something that you’ll remember forever.
As you can imagine, and like other winter driving academies, AMG Snow isn’t cheap. Your looking at roughly $4,500 Australian, or $3,500 USD, per driving day. That does include two nights of accommodations, however that doesn’t include the cost of flights required to get there.