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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It's been an interesting two weeks getting acclimated with the new car between multiple snowstorms. Luckily we don't salt out here, so winter driving is no big issue (pretty fun, to be honest). My house is about 850' of vertical climb from the freeway, and a surprise ice/slush storm on top of well plowed packed-down snow last night made the last stretch of my evening commute a great time to experiment.

Of course, the stock summer tires are predictably awful when trying to climb steeper grades... no commentary needed on that, I'll get a more appropriate 4-season tire soon (Pilot Sport AS3's on my 500 were excellent).


1. I've heard the traction+stability control systems are never fully off in the non-Abarth models (not sure if this was just a rumor held over from the 500 or if it has been confirmed on the 124, anyone able to confirm?), but I'm happy to report that the "off" setting allows for absolute on-demand oversteer and wheelspin. With almost perfect balance, the car is incredibly easy (and fun!) to slide.

The last part of the climb into my neighborhood is a fairly steep 150' hill. This is where the real effort took place. With traction+stability control on (default), even with a very careful throttle technique, the car could only get about halfway up the hill. The system was just a bit too aggressive at correcting yaw and traction and literally just gave up midway, requiring me to back up and start over.

With the system set to "off", I was able to take advantage of a little bit of slide and spin to get and keep more momentum, but still only got about 3/4 of the way up the hill. I'm positive I would have beaten the hill on the first try were it not for...

2. The overzealous hill-holder function! This becomes your enemy very quickly when climbing. Sometimes in winter driving, the most crucial moments of control in an uphill grade happen at 1-3mph, which is right when the hill holder clamps you down whether or not you want to stop. The upsetting thing about this is it needs quite a bit of torque to release... which is precisely what you *don't* want when starting from a dead stop on snow/ice. So even with delicate throttle/clutch control, you wind up locked in this awful sort of binary stop or spin scenario, unable to gently nudge it out.

3. So... in order to defeat that... 3/4 of the way up a steep icy hill (thankfully with no one else around), I turned traction+stability control back on (default), and it was sort of hilarious to watch the car's various nanny systems viciously fight each other for dominance.

The engine provided torque to release the hill holder which was immediately attenuated by the TCS pulsing the power output... which made the car lurch and yaw, prompting rapid pulsing of the inside front brake... straightening it out but slowing it down further, requiring more throttle, immediately re-attenuated. I just kept with it for a few seconds and surprisingly it all (sort of) worked... the car crept forward awkwardly building just enough momentum for me to reach hill-holder-escape-velocity and quickly deactivate the TCS again and try to coax it up the very last stretch old-school style. Of course, the rubber-band effect of the turbo on torque output requires careful throttle and clutch control to prevent one-wheel-peel... leading me to TWO uncomfortable realizations :

4. an LSD would have probably made this whole scenario a bit less ridiculous... and more to the point, a lower-torque naturally aspirated MX5 may be even more adept at conquering this scenario. >:)

I avoided the Abarth primarily because I like to tune my car myself and didn't want the touchscreen... but I hadn't thought about the LSD's usefulness in winter.


Either way... this wound up being a lot of fun if not somewhat time-consuming, and hopefully it can assist some of you in the future.
 

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x2 on the LSD.

I used to own a Lexus SC400 that had a open diff and during winter it wasn't nearly as fun my friends S2000 which had something similar going on although it wasn't called an LSD.

Too bad you didn't take any videos.
 

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I'm curious where in Western Washington road salt is not currently being used. There wasn't any at all until a few years ago but for the last few years at least Seattle/King County, Tacoma/Pierce County and the Cascade passes have been getting salt and/or salt brine mixtures on a regular basis. I hit salt right out of my driveway.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There wasn't any at all until a few years ago but for the last few years at least Seattle/King County, Tacoma/Pierce County and the Cascade passes have been getting salt and/or salt brine mixtures on a regular basis.
You're right... digging around online, it looks like they're adopting it at a much faster rate now. I remember a big flap a few years ago when people had enough of crashing into each other.

Still, most of my time is spent in Seattle proper and outer uninc. North Bend... always see "liquid de-icer" (salt brine?) used preventively, then sand afterwards (all too aware of on my motorcycle as it sticks around much longer than salt).
 

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x2 on the LSD.

I used to own a Lexus SC400 that had a open diff and during winter it wasn't nearly as fun my friends S2000 which had something similar going on although it wasn't called an LSD.

Too bad you didn't take any videos.
The S2000 did have an LSD, called a TorSen type. Just wasnt clutch type like most used to be.

Those of us with an Abarth have a clutch type, my personal preference of 2 wheel distribution
 

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Either way... this wound up being a lot of fun
It was fun to read, to be sure!

We get the briny then sandy treatment out here in Olympic lowlands (Jefferson Co) when it snows near the water. But not much this year; Seattle and King Co. has had much more. Friggin' cold, though!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
(My 124's now been stationary for the better part of a week... it hurts. The road to our driveway has been a solid sheet of ice and temps are swinging between 30F in the day and 16F at night - hoping the next few days in the high 30s with rain is enough to soften this stuff up... compared to the 124 my venerable old Honda Element is a versatile mountain goat, but about as fun to drive as one also...)

Also... Capo Nord! Right on! (V-Strom 650 now with plenty of seat time on BMW GS's, Guzzi Quota, Cagiva Gran Canyon, etc... all prefect bikes for this region)
 
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