Porsche this week officially opens its Driving Experience Centre adjacent to the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in Northamptonshire. The world-class centre allows every customer of a new Porsche in the UK and Ireland to receive expert tuition in their driving skills as well as the performance capabilities of their car as part of their purchase experience.
Advances in modern automotive engineering and design mean today’s sports cars are more efficient, safer, faster and more complex than ever before. The level to which a driver understands the engine and chassis control systems on their car not only makes them a responsible road user, but also ultimately determines their overall level of driving satisfaction as well – and it is the thoroughbred nature of the driving experience which distinguishes a Porsche.
One of the core philosophies of the Porsche research and development development team at Weissach, Germany, is to develop Porsche specific technology that enhances the connection between the driver, the car and the road. The new Driving Experience Centre at Silverstone offers Porsche customers with the opportunity to really understand the practical benefits of this engineering integrity that is the foundation of every Porsche.
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre aims to build on these principles of driving safety and driving enjoyment by providing a formal, yet fun, environment for both Porsche owners and enthusiasts to have the opportunity to understand the engine performance and chassis dynamics attributes which differentiate a Porsche from its rivals.
“This unique facility is a major investment for Porsche Cars GB and it will allow us to create a unique experience for customers that cannot be bettered in the UK market,” commented Andy Goss, Managing Director, Porsche Cars Great Britain. “The two core themes that run through each guest’s experience here are learning and choice. Learning about their car and their driving, but also learning about the world of Porsche so that they can make informed choices. Giving every Porsche new car customer a thorough understanding of what lies beneath the skin of their car will endorse their decision to buy the best.”
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre offers a variety of track configurations and surface conditions on which the potential of all Porsche road cars can be studied, together with, uniquely, the human performance level of drivers themselves.
With a total length of 3.1km, the track has been designed to allow it to be split into four separate areas that can be used independently of each other or connected together to form a longer handling circuit. This environment will allow Porsche customers to be instructed through a variety of different situations in wet and dry conditions, as well as simulating ice and snow driving with the use of specially constructed surfaces.
The variety of track environments encompasses a challenging off-road course, around which the versatility of the Cayenne can be demonstrated. Significant features include a 1:1 hill, a daunting stretch of water and a drive route across a mixture of rugged terrain.
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre houses reception and display areas, a restaurant, cinema and the innovative Human Performance department. This leading edge sports laboratory is run by proven specialists and is accessible to both Porsche customers and racing drivers. Ordinarily, this type of facility would only be accessible to elite athletes. One-to-one instruction spans fitness assessments and guidance in techniques aimed at improving stamina, co-ordination and reaction times for drivers of all levels.
The bespoke Centre building features distinctive Porsche architectural cues on the outside but, like the Porsche road cars themselves, employs the latest technology to significantly lower its energy demands, and hence its environmental impact. Visitors can see the entire Porsche facility from a roof top platform offering panoramic views.
“We have based our Driving Experience Centre at Silverstone for the good practical reasons you would expect; location, access, facilities and international reputation,” added Andy Goss. “However, the relationship is uniquely special in that over the past 60 years Porsche and Silverstone have both stayed within their original ownership and remain fiercely independent.”
Porsche Driving Experience Centre, Silverstone – in detail
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre, Silverstone, has been devised to enable drivers to consciously develop their driving skills, understand in detail the performance capabilities and safety systems of their cars and ultimately derive even greater enjoyment from their Porsche.
A world-class training facility, the Porsche Driving Experience Centre occupies a 10.2 hectare plot adjacent to the famous Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, near Towcester, in Northamptonshire. Porsche Cars GB first started offering circuit-based driver development in the mid-70s to support the introduction of the 3.0-litre 911 Turbo. Since then, the Porsche Driving Experience programme has evolved to the point where over 7,500 owners participated in the past 12 months.
The Porsche Driving Experience is a graduated programme that within each level covers the cornerstones of all driving: a sound knowledge of the principles of car control, defensive driving (the art of avoiding preventable accidents) and advanced driving techniques.
The programme has been developed by Porsche specifically to meet the demanding requirements of Porsche drivers. The Porsche Driving Consultants, all professional driving experts from road, rally and circuit backgrounds personally tutor participants. Their vehicle appreciation skills coupled with in-depth Porsche technical training makes them complete Porsche drivers, able to bring a new dimension to Porsche motoring with their coaching and inside knowledge.
It is not necessary to be a particular kind of driver to enjoy the programme. Each stage can be enjoyed by anyone wishing to improve their driving and learn a number of practical techniques. The emphasis is on discovering individual strengths as a driver and learning to appreciate and use the dynamic capabilities of a Porsche car.
Our half day introductory course offers one-to-one training on the facilities listed below. After a 30 minute technical briefing and a familiarisation session on the Porsche Handling Circuit you will experience driving the Kick Plate, Ice Hill and Low Friction Handling Circuit. You will then have the option to focus on advanced road, track or off-road driving.
- Kick Plate: a moveable metal plate set flush with the road surface designed to be triggered remotely as a car travels overhead, thereby generating the effect of a loss of rear wheel traction
- Ice Hill: simulating sheet ice with computer controlled water jets, this area allows drivers to explore general car control as well as understanding the specific handling characteristics of a car
- Low Friction Handling Circuit: specially formulated tarmac creating an ideal environment where oversteer slides can be provoked, corrected and held
- Off-Road: purpose-built landscape to include steep hillclimbs and descents, deep water and rough terrain. A challenging course to test both driver and car
Fit to drive?
Wellness means feeling healthy, energised and vibrant. It increases your resistance to stress, improves focus and enables you to enjoy all aspects of your life to the full. A consultation with the specialists at Porsche Human Performance helps you to assess and more fully understand your health, lifestyle and diet – and how to positively influence these to improve well-being.
Wellness assessment comprises blood glucose & cholesterol testing, blood pressure, lung function, eyesight screening specific for driving, reaction and co-ordination testing specifically for driving, aerobic capacity fitness assessment, body composition analysis and, naturally, consultation on assessment results. This additional programme costs from £100.
Porsche Human Performance have experience working at the highest level in world motor sport ensuring our understanding of what it takes to succeed in this competitive environment is second to none. For competitive drivers, improved physical conditioning enables greater consistency of lap times, increased tolerance of extreme environments and heightened concentration levels.
The Performance service provides motor sport specific fitness training and laboratory assessments to ensure a driver is maximizing their physical performance.
Fit to race?
An initial fitness assessment with Porsche Human Performance will reveal whether you really are fit to race! Your aerobic capacity, strength, reactions and visual skills are rigorously tested and bench marked against top performers to highlight areas for improvement. This more in-depth and rigorous programme costs £349, for the initial laboratory assessment.
The annual performance package can include a personalised on-line training programme, weekly group training sessions, laboratory fitness assessments, 1-1 training sessions and training camps and weekend programmes.
Porsche Driving Experience Centre, Silverstone – Facts
Planning permission was first granted in April 2007, and the ground-breaking ceremony coincided with the British Grand Prix later that summer. The facility was operational just 12 months later in time for the 2008 British Grand Prix, and hosted the launch introduction for the second generation 911 Carrera.
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre building design was inspired by the cloud shape cumulus nimbus, and looks like a key hole from above.
The Porsche test track is built on the site of the Rally of Great Britain World Rally Championship special stage used in 1998 and 1999. The original starting gantry and Michelin cross-over bridge have been amalgamated into the test track design.
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre occupies a 10.2 hectare plot.
With a total length of 3.1km, the track has been designed to allow it be split into four separate areas that can be used independently of each other or connected together to form a longer handling circuit.
The view from the roof terrace not only takes in the whole of the Porsche test track and Porsche off-road course, but also a clear view of Silverstone’s Becketts corner, Hangar Straight, Stowe corner and the run up to Abbey bend, which comprise most of Silverstone’s Southern circuit and half of the Grand Prix Circuit.
The building stands on the site of the aircraft hangars (hence Hangar Straight) used for training flights by the US Air Force in WWII and the base course of the track is made from the re-cycled concrete of the hangar bases.
It makes perfect sense for Porsche to combine its driving experience activity in to one venue and this location is perfect with over 70 per cent of our UK customers within a two hour drive of the Silverstone area.
The water jets and sprinklers take no water from the mains and the water is re-cycled.
The kick plate is 75 m long, the ice hill has a 7 % slope.
The stopping distance is at least 10 times longer on the dampened red surfaces of the kick plate and ice hill than on dry tarmac.
Two years of research into the best proving grounds and driver development centres around the world went into developing the unique layout of the Porsche test tracks at Silverstone.
Proving grounds are created to develop cars. The Porsche test track is designed to develop drivers.
Each of the five track configurations have been created with the demonstration of Porsche technology in mind.
The low friction handling circuit was developed by Porsche and is totally unique with polished limestone creating its slippery surface.
A membership scheme will start in 2009 providing exclusive access, offers and events.
Wayne Boyd, the 2008 Formula Ford Festival winner, was the first race driver to sign up to the annual training and assessment programme offered by the Porsche Human Performance Centre.
In the same way race car technology filters into road cars, race driver preparation can help Porsche customers with posture and comfort, concentration and reaction skills, improving driver enjoyment and increasing safety.
The Porsche test track was used for two Duathlons in 2008 (2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run) and will host a Duathlon championship in 2009.
The chef and catering staff in the on-site Panamera restaurant have worked closely with the Porsche Human Performance team to create a menu that is not only tasty and wholesome, but seasonal and uses locally sourced produce.
Porsche Cars GB chose to work with JVC and BOSE enabling the Porsche Driving Experience Centre to have fully High Definition visual display with state of the art sound.
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre is not a retail site, but dedicated to allowing drivers to develop their technique and further their understanding of Porsche cars.
The Porsche Driving Experience Centre is the first phase of Silverstone’s ‘master plan’ for re-development and Porsche will work closely with Silverstone to positively contribute to Silverstone’s future.