Discover your inner racing driver at the Porsche Experience Center.
The old adage "just because you can afford a supercar doesn’t mean you can drive one” is spread across the comments section whenever a video emerges of an exotic car wrapped around a tree. Accidents can happen to anyone – just ask Chris Harris, Richard Hammond or Ken Block – but for owners of powerful vehicles, regular sessions of professional training is a must.
That’s where facilities like the Porsche Experience Center come in.
In the US, some 250,000 people have visited these awesome facilities in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Outside the US, Porsche has four further Experience Centers in Leipzig, Germany; Le Mans, France; Shanghai, China; and at Silverstone in England. A seventh center is due to open in Hockenheim later this year.
On a recent trip to the UK, we decided to check out the facility at the legendary F1 circuit and booked in a day’s worth of driving a range of sports cars, from the 718 Cayman to the 911 GT2 RS complete with expert tuition. New Porsche owners get a session here included in the price of their purchase, often returning to develop skills behind the wheel and to push their rides beyond the legal limits. New owners can also bring a friend with the inexplicit aim of converting them to the brand.
Driving experiences are catered to specific models. So if you’ve got your eye on a new Cayenne and want to see what the luxury SUV is capable of, you can spend 90 minutes on test tracks and an extreme off-road course. If like us, you just want to sample the good stuff, then there are several special packages on offer.
Taste of Porsche is an introduction to the marque’s sports cars with time in a 718 Boxster / Cayman and a 911. Ultimate 911 includes wheel time in a 911 GT3 RS, 911R and GT2 RS, and for driving purists there’s the GT RS Experience, 90 minutes in three generations of the 911 RS – the two latest generations of the 911 GT3 RS (Type 991.1 and 991.2) and the GT2 RS.
Normally, visitors spend a morning or afternoon session enjoying one of the experiences. But we wanted to make the most of our time at this incredible facility. So after a morning in a brand-new Cayman GTS and Porsche 911 Turbo S we spent the afternoon in a GT3 RS and GT2 RS.
Situated southeast of the Silverstone circuit, Porsche’s specially designed track is made up of six elements: Handling Circuit, Straights, Kick Plate, Ice Hill, Low Friction and Off-Road, each with different configurations and surface conditions to explore the potential and capabilities of the cars.
The handling course is narrow, mimicking a British B-road, with lots of twists, turns, and elevation changes. Learning the correct lines and braking points is the aim here.
Porsche introduced the Straights a few years back to give drivers the chance to explore how its cars accelerate and stop in a controlled environment. Putting your foot down in any Porsche is a thrill but in the 700-horsepower 911 GT2 RS, capable of a 2.7-second 0-60 mph time, it was mind-bending. The most potent road-going Porsche of all time reaches 124 mph in just 8.3 seconds and is brutally quick. Nestled inside the narrower section of the handling circuit, we got the chance to launch the GT2 RS over and over again, braking later and harder with each attempt.
Experiencing the force of such explosive acceleration is crucial for owners, but so is knowing the full potential of their ride’s stopping power and how to access it (hint: by mashing the brake pedal as hard as you can).
The so-called Ice Hill is made up of a slippery low-friction plastic surface with computer-controlled water jets that replicates driving on sheet ice. Prepare for endless spins as you learn to keep the Porsche pointing in the right direction as you slalom down the hill. Great fun and if you manage one clean run then you’d have done well.
The Low Friction track consists of tight bends made of polished limestone where drivers learn to drift around the corners at varying speeds, while the Kick Plate is set up to send the car into a slide with the aim of teaching drivers to catch an unexpected skid by countersteering – something that is way harder than it looks.
Prices start from £295 for 90 minutes which includes one-to-one tuition (with similar prices at the equivalent US centers). Whether you’ve got your eye on a new 718 Cayman or 911 or just want to feel how special these cars are, there’s no better or quicker way to do it than by visiting the hugely impressive Porsche Experience Center.