Planning For An Austrian Road Trip? Here's What We Did
When Porsche rang and said we’ll be road testing the 992.1 GT3 and Turbo S, we got cracking to plan a suitable route. Assessing them called for more sophisticated planning.
It wasn’t enough to be driving these cars on urban roads and on the motorway. We had to discern how they really felt on the best roads in the world. Which meant we had to head south, to the Alps.
Together with Porsche, we mapped out a route that took in the best Alpine passes on offer. We couldn’t go to Switzerland due to logistical reasons, so Austria was the best alternative. Do note that you need to buy a ‘vignette’ - essentially a toll sticker you put on your windscreen - at the border.
Here are the three passes that we went to, and what we thought of them:
Google Maps Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5jyaJbWh2TdvX31j6
Coming from Imst, the road climbs steeply and awe-inspiringly through vertical rock faces and craggy, fear-inspiring peaks that felt quite narrow for the sort of cars we were in.
It eventually opens to a wide valley with better visibility and nice straights where you can gun it, but not for long. On the descent from the pass towards a little town of Boden, there are lovely flowing roads interspersed with narrow sweeping corners. The road eventually bleeds towards Pfafflar, where you slow down before embarking on a severely steep decline with shorter straights and more hairpins into a junction where there is a convenient place to turn around and do it all again.
It is a very technical pass with not much room for error and is perhaps suited for smaller cars than the 911. Still, thrilling all the same.
Google Maps location: https://goo.gl/maps/Zij21U7JidXd1tv26
This pass is in a similar area but is far more commercialised than Hahntennjoch. It is a tolled road, and the gradual incline all the way from Imst is gentle and friendly.
Towards the checkpoint ‘TOP Mountain Motorcycle Museum Crosspoint’, the roads start to get more interesting but beware of a number of road works that popped up while we were there in late June. The checkpoint is a great place to take a rest and it’s where you’ll pay the toll charge.
After crossing the checkpoint, you still remain on the Austrian side of the pass and this is probably the best part of the road. There are well-sighted, long straights and you will pass by a ‘Smugglers landmark’ halfway through. After this, you will start to climb again but the roads are generally wide and well-sighted although there are now more hairpins.
Before you know it you’d have reached the peak at Rasthaus Timmelsjoch, which serves a pretty decent burger and is a great viewpoint. From here on, you’ll quickly cross to the Italian border and immediately you can feel the change in road conditions and width. Here the hairpins are more extreme and frequent, while you’ll need to slow down severely if there’s any oncoming traffic. On the Italian side of the pass it is more suited for smaller cars or motorcycles. We stuck to the Austrian side with the 911s.
Overall, it’s probably a better road than Hahntennjoch, but both of these passes pale in comparison to the great Grossglocker…
Google Maps Location: https://goo.gl/maps/cFCm3NG6ZNsKsSRX6
A good 4.5 hour drive from Timmelsjoch whether you take the Austrian or the Italian route, Grossglockner is located eastward and its ideal start location is in Lienz.
Altogether longer, more massive, better sighted and sweeping than narrow, the Grossglockner offers heaps of fun with a lot more confidence-inspiring conditions.
From Lienz, it is an easy 40-minute drive to the toll booth ‘Großglockner Hochalpenstraße Kassenstelle Heiligenblut’. It is a good idea to get a weather check from the toll guards as it gave us a good taste of what’s to come after!
After the toll booth there is a considerable length of beautiful, well-sighted and wide alpine roads that are perfect for just about any sort of sports car. Just after the Vyhlídka scenic spot, you will soon reach a roundabout. The first exit is a relaxed, easy drive to the Panoramarestaurant Kaiser - a dead-end restaurant cum museum and parking area that gives awesome views of a glacier.
The second exit is the actual continuation of the Grossglockner and brings you towards the border between the Austrian states of Carinthia and Salzburg, split by a rather dark tunnel called the Kiosk Hochtor. Once you cross over to Salzburg, there are more of the same awesome roads (wide, great visibility, well paved) all the way towards Zell am See.
By far, the Grossglockner was the most satisfying drive of the trip, simply because it is much longer and the conditions are also less treacherous - it is almost like a very high plateau with a gradient. I’d highly recommend it.
For a review of the 992 GT3, GT3 Touring and Turbo S on these roads, head on over to the respective links below!
Credits: Text by James Wong; Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club and James Wong