It'll set you back $2,495, plus tax, which includes access to some excellent driving instructors, plus meals.
This may be the ultimate way to get students into a classroom - offer them a carrot in the form of a Porsche 911 they can drive once they've sifted through all the videos and graphs and talking. At the Porsche Sport Driving School, which just opened for the first time in Canada, this is a reality - just as long as you're willing to spend some serious dough.
Porsche's driving school offers numerous levels and is available in 16 countries around the world, but the recently-opened Canadian edition, located at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park just east of Toronto, is a more basic affair. Only the first level of the school - known as Precision - is available, and it covers numerous skills over the course of two days. The cost? It'll set you back $2,495, plus tax, which includes access to some excellent driving instructors, plus meals. You can view dates and availability here. The purpose of the school, as Porsche puts it, is "to get you to your destination safely." Even over the course of just a few short hours, it's easy to see how seriously they pursue that objective.
Porsche recently invited journalists to take part in a truncated and somewhat accelerated version of the driving school. Full track laps don't happen until the second day of the two-day course, but for the journalists' shortened class, after some brief talk about contact patches and load changes, we were doing slaloms in 718 Caymans and finishing hot laps in 911s. And yes, I would have sat through a lot more question-and-answer periods if it meant being able to go full-tilt in a 911 where it truly belongs - on a track.
While we knew we'd leave the school at the end of the day and likely never look back, Porsche believes that there will be people out there who will make their way through every level, eventually becoming legit professional race car drivers. The only catch is that as mentioned earlier, any particularly ambitious Canadians will have to travel to other countries if they want to move past the Porsche school's first level.
Although a rep was somewhat aloof when asked if anyone had actually ever gone from zero training to professional driver through Porsche's instruction, it's worth noting that much of what the instructors teach can be used to make the average Jane or Joe Driver better behind the wheel.
While there was a lot of fun to be had as we tore around the track, paying attention to exit points and apexes and all such manner of racing know-how, we were also taught - or reminded - that we could put a lot of trust in our vehicles' braking systems. Granted, we were driving some very expensive and high-tech German machinery, but the point remains that many new cars these days are outfitted with a lot of electronics that will save your butt when things go south. The school provides an opportunity - in a safe environment - to test these things out. And besides - as a driver, it costs you nothing, regardless of what car you drive, to become more smooth at steering, for instance, or learn how to properly accelerate.
The instructors themselves have years of experience, and while they were stern when they needed to be, they were always clear with their instructions and never led us astray. The first driver to do a braking exercise quickly learned that when you're told to "get on the brakes," you need to get on the brakes. That is to say, don't slow down to an almost-stop, then coast. The vehicle needs to know you want to stop completely, and needs to know the anti-lock braking system has to be activated, and the only way to do that is mash the brakes and come to a complete stop. The 911s we were piloting never let us down, even when we were braking while taking a corner at 90 kilometres per hour.
For some people, just being able to take a 911 or 718 Cayman onto a track may be worth the price of admission alone. But as cliche as it may sound, it's tough to put a price on safety. Even if you have the means to buy some of the most advanced vehicles with the best safety equipment on the market, there's still something to be said about knowing how to recover from an oversteer or understeer situation, or having the knowledge of what hydroplaning is, and why it happens.
Over the course of two days, the Porsche Sport Driving School Canada will give students access to knowledge they very well may never have known existed. Where you go from there, whether it's back to your 9-to-5 job, or on to the Performance level in Germany, is up to you.