By Kimatni D. Rawlins
It was an exciting day tossing German machinery around the 1.6-mile, 14-turn Driver Development Track at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, GA with my auto partner Brian Armstead. Doubling as the company’s U.S. headquarters, the 27.7-acre complex is unique in presentation. It provides advanced instruction for enthusiasts and features a Heritage Gallery, Classic Factory Restoration Workshop, Driving Simulator Lab, and a Personal Design Studio for customers to build out and personalize their new Porsche. Pretty fascinating!
Location and Packages
We flew from Washington, DC into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and stayed at the Westin Atlanta Airport. The property is conveniently located off I-75 at the southwest corner of Porsche Avenue and I-75. Choosing from the multitude of driving courses was our only challenge. Still, we ultimately selected the Cayenne Off-Road course and the Taycan Immersion Program with the all-electric Taycan Turbo S to demonstrate the zero-emissions performance sedan’s 0 to 60 mph speed of just 2.6 seconds, impeccable handling, and powerful braking from 10-piston front calipers.
Some of the other titillating sessions include the Overdrive: 911 Turbo S; 2 vs. 4 to compare the rear-wheel Carrera S verse to its all-wheel drive equal; Porsche Owner Experience; and the Porsche Young Driver Experience designed to offer an enhanced level of driver development training. In total, customers can decide between roughly 37 programs depending on desires and skillset.
Porsche Driving Tutelage
When you arrive at One Porsche Drive and witness the building’s architectural genius, the emotional excitement of what’s in store begins to set in. Our host, Jade Logan of Porsche Corporate PR, gave Brian and I a tour of the facilities before settling into the classroom to learn the guidelines with instructors Tyler Fling and Walter Smith.
The first lesson was the familiarization of the Driver Development Track consisting of six driving modules that routinely see work from an extensive 77 vehicle fleet of Porsche’s core products. We experienced each module to showcase good vision, fast hands, proper braking pressure and timing, counter steering, and overall control. Thankfully, three decades of prior track enhancement provided me with the innate instincts required for the tasks at hand.
Walter put me in a Guards Red (classic Porsche color) Taycan Turbo S to tackle the 1-mile Handling Circuit first. With no set speed limit, this portion is very technical and leaves no room for error, so listening to his directions was essential. This lesson aims to choose the right path when approaching turns and deciding when to brake and when to accelerate. Of course, you mainly want to floor it when you have the equivalent of 750-horsepower after boost in the Turbo S! But the critical point is that all Porsche’s brake faster than they accelerate.
The Kick Plate tests a vehicle’s control abilities when encountering a skid or spin. Water, along with sensors, are used to move the plate when you drive over it to induce a slide. This action mimics what you may encounter in adverse weather such as snowfall. The driver then must countersteer and come off the throttle to balance out the chassis. The premise is to correct either oversteer or understeer, which is lack of grip in the front tires. Oversteer is a lack of grip in the rear. This was undoubtedly the most brilliant session.
Off-Roading Porsche’s Cayenne SUV
Afterward, Tyler led me to the off-road course with a Porsche Cayenne S sport-utility vehicle. Yes, these Porsche SUVs are engineered with just as much utilitarian prowess and safety technology as your typical off-roader. We crept up 70% inclines, swam through 19” of water, articulated gullies to show off the Independent Air Suspension, and curved around 45-degree vertical descents as the German SUV was full tilt on one side. Porsche Hill Control, which works in reverse as well, was engaged to creep down steep inclines. In all, there are 21 different off-road obstacles to maneuver through, up, down, or around.
Then, of course, we took a Cayenne GTS on the Driver Development Track to show off its high-speed versatility. Keep in mind that Porsche SUVs are devoid of launch control capabilities requiring the PDK transmission instead of the Cayenne’s Tiptronic transmission mandatory for towing.
Heritage Gallery and Classic Factory Restoration Workshop
After our two morning lessons, we spent the afternoon viewing the Classic Factory Restoration Workshop that provides mechanical restoration services to customer vehicles ten years out of series production. It’s the only one of its kind outside of Germany. Most fascinating was a stroll through the Heritage Gallery to witness greatness from a Tahoe Blue 968 to an Ice Green Metallic GT2 RS Type 991.2. The iconic display is transformed every six months with a fresh batch of Porsche classics. The current theme centers on the COLORS OF PORSCHE to demonstrate how the perfect hue can make an exceptional car a true masterpiece. Porsche recognizes the pertinence of paint, valuing the variations and complexities that distinguish a Fern Green from an Ocean Jade Metallic.
Ah yes, time for some swag to fit the temperament of what we just witnessed. Visitors can immerse themselves into the lifestyle by shopping at the Porsche Driver’s Selection Store where you can find all things that represent the embodiment of the Porsche mind state. Race jackets, driving shoes, polos, t-shirts, keychains, model cars, caps, and much more are at your disposal. I picked up a nostalgic jacket and a pair of Pumas ideal for weekend track days or styling at an F1 Grand Prix. Before departing, the Carrera Café provided the sustenance required to regain energy from our driving. I’m a vegan and was pleasantly satisfied with the healthy fare and drink options on the menu.
Well, that’s all folks. To book an experience package, visit www.PorscheDriving.com. The pro driving tutelage is the perfect gift for someone you care about that cares about all things Porsche, especially with the holidays approaching. Enjoy!