How about a very unique driving experience as a Christmas gift?
The idea behind the Silverstone Porsche Experience is to offer Porsche and indeed non- Porsche drivers the opportunity to drive either their own car or one of the supplied Porsche cars from the Porsche model line-up on their specially designed track.
This may just be the perfect gift for the man or woman in your life who loves cars!
The superbly designed centre is true to Porsche high standards. The centre has a beautiful showroom, restaurant, viewing area for guests, a human performance centre, and the purpose built test tracks.
For those of you pressed for time the whole thing can be comfortably done in a day from Dublin. I flew with Ryanair to Birmingham airport which is only about an hour from the Silverstone circuit.
On arrival I was greeted by my instructor Rob. I was offered the use of the Boxster Spyder as part of my track experience. To further enhance the day he also suggested I try a 911 Carrera 2S and compare that with a 911 Carrera 4S they had at the facility.
By the way the full range of Porsche cars is available and depending on the package you choose you can drive any of them.
We took the 911 Carrera 2S out first. Starting on the test circuit where I really could push the car to the limit in complete safety. The design of the track, with its variety of cambers and corners enables the driver to quickly get a feel for the car.
The Carrera 2S of course performed impeccably, and the Ceramic Brakes demonstrated their abilities to the core delivering tremendous stopping power lap after lap without a hint of fade. The PDK box too came into its own with millisecond up and downshifts at the flick of the paddle.
Having explored the 911 at higher speeds we took to the low friction track to explore car control. Here I could deliberately provoke the 911 into a slide and then hold it there as we went through a series of S bends, great fun!
Having exhausted the angles to which a 911 will slide we headed for the Ice Hill. This proved very interesting. Driving down the hill you are suddenly greeted with a Wall of water which you must swerve to avoid. In doing so you quickly learn the handling traits of your chosen Porsche and indeed how easy a spin can develop. It is very rewarding and great fun when you get it right and control the slide.
Next came the Kick Plate. Rob gets you to accelerate from a standstill to about 25mph, without warning the car is then Kicked sideways on the wet low friction surface and you the driver must try and control the ensuing slide. Its fascinating that as you increase the speed the slide becomes so much more difficult to control. It is a great exercise from which you learn a lot but its also frankly great craic.
With our session in the 911 Carrera 2 S complete we repeated the process in the Carrera 4S and I found this most interesting as it immediately highlighted the quite different handling characteristics of both cars.
For me the 911 Carrera 2 S wins. Its just a more involving drive as the car moves a round that bit more. It just feels more rewarding to drive.
We finished up with the promised fast laps in the Boxster Spyder. What a car! Perfect mid-engined balance, plenty of power and wind in the hair motoring when you want it.
I still maintain a Boxster offers one of the purest driving experiences around and the Spyder is the pinnacle of that.
Finally with the day complete I hopped back into the car for the one hour or so run back to Birmingham airport. What a day!
To those of you who have not yet gone to the Silverstone Porsche Experience I highly recommend it as it allows you to drive to the limits of your own abilities while really learning the abilities of your chosen Porsche or indeed your own car of a different make.
You will come away a better driver, with a more in-depth knowledge of what a driving a high performance car is all about. Prices from 295.00 Sterling inc VAT.
For information on the courses available and their package prices log on to www.porsche.co.uk