- Track driving experience involving high-performance Audi cars
- Experience safety technology in action and develop driving skills
- But is it worth the cost? Find out from this Parkers review
What is the Audi Sport Driving Experience?
Audi’s official driver experience programme in the UK. It gives paying punters the opportunity to try a selection of the latest high-performance Audi models in the safety and security of a supervised motor racing circuit environment.
Not only will you genuinely get the chance to find out what it feels like to push a car as fast as you can make it will go, these driver training days are also intended to help you improve your driving technique, as well as give you a greater understanding of how the latest safety systems work – and the best way to get the most out of them.
But does it work? We’ve been along to one to find out.
How much does the Audi Sport Driving Experience cost?
There are three different types of Audi Sport Driving Experience available. Here’s what they cost and a brief breakdown of what you get for your money.
Audi Sport Introductory Experience, £299*
This is a half-day experience, available in both AM and PM slots, involves some of Audi’s smaller performance cars – such as the S1, RS 3 Sportback and TT RS – includes a two-course lunch, and concludes with a high-speed passenger ride with one of the professional driving instructors.
Audi Sport Experience, £749*
This is a full day course featuring a wider range of vehicles – the RS 3, the RS 6 Avant and the R8 V10 Plus at the time of writing – and an extended amount of driving time and activities, and also concludes with a high-speed passenger lap.
Audi Sport Plus Experience, £1,600*
This course is only available to people who have already completed the regular Audi Sport Experience, and is limited to just 12 participants per day (plus their spectators). This means you get much more detailed, individual tuition. It also includes in-car filming, an Audi Sport gift and afternoon tea in addition to the two course lunch.
Spectators are welcome to join the driver on any of the above courses, at a cost of £49 per person. This includes plenty of refreshment (including the meals) and a high-speed passenger lap at the end of the day.
*All prices correct at time of writing
Where can you take part in the Audi Sport Driving Experience?
Audi runs driving experience dates at the following UK racing circuits:
Who can take part in the Audi Sport Driving Experience?
The driving days are open to anyone, so you don’t have to be an Audi owner – although a large number of the people who were there on the day we went along most certainly were (we’ve never seen so many privately owned R8s in one place).
Drivers must be over 21 and have held a full licence for three years (with no more than eight penalty points; if you’ve been banned from driving you’re out of luck entirely).
You must also weigh less than 18 stone, and be between 5ft 2in and 6ft 6in in height.
We took part in an Audi Sport Experience – the middle option that includes a full day of driving – at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix and a dedicated Audi Driving Experience centre.
After refreshments, the day begins with a detailed driver briefing, which covers the morning activities as well as the importance of setting your driving position correctly and holding the wheel at the quarter to three (not ten to two, as your driving instructor probably taught you). Then it’s onto the driving itself.
Participants are split into groups. We understand that the exact programme varies slightly, but in our case, we did a series of exercises designed to improve driving technique while giving a better understanding of car dynamics, and this is likely to be the same regardless of when and where you go.
Using a small section of Silverstone’s Stowe circuit, we practiced the racing line and we were encouraged to extend our view of the road ahead to carry the best possible speed through the corners. That the we were driving two tonnes of RS 6 during this exercise was also eye-opening, and an able demonstration of the capabilities and limitations of modern tyres.
Then we switched to the R8 V10 Plus for an exercise designed to demonstrate braking power. This cleverly taught the importance of picking your braking point correctly when track driving while also showing off the way modern ABS and stability control systems work to enable you to take emergency avoidance action safely – which is obviously applicable to road driving as well.
As the day progressed, other activities included timed competitive slalom runs in RS 3 Sportbacks (with a prize for the fastest of the day), and a high-speed lane-change manoeuvre on a wet surface with and without the stability control system engaged. This last instance was again in an RS 6, forcing you to confront physics rather head on.
As an example of how hard the instructors allow you to drive the cars, we spun the RS 6 during this exercise by braking at the wrong point when the systems were off – which ably demonstrated the power of systems themselves and the advantages trying these things in a controlled track environment. The only harm done was to the tyres (we weren’t the only spinners, either).
The real fun came in the afternoon, however, when after a second briefing we were given the chance to drive several laps of the full Stowe circuit at the wheel of the RS 3 Sportback and the R8 V10 Plus.
This was undertaken in a small train of cars, with every driver getting the chance to follow directly behind the instructor in the lead vehicle, in order to better understand the correct racing line.
We were pleasantly surprised and impressed by the amount of track time given during these sessions. You’ll almost be glad to take a break at the end due to the level of concentration involved in maintaining such consistently high speeds.
Finally, the passenger lap in an R8 V10 Plus was a brilliant way to really experience what these cars can do – if you thought you were going fast before, you were almost certainly wrong. If you’re a nervous passenger, you may want to watch a few laps first, and pick your pro driver accordingly…
What do you get from it?
One of the most interesting things about the way the Audi Sport Experience works is that you’re seated in a car not with an instructor but with another paying member of the public. Instead the instructors are stationed outside the cars, giving advice via radio.
This obviously helps Audi get more customers through the doors – also explaining why the Plus experience is so much more expensive, as it includes individual tuition – and is sold as a means of increasing those customers’ ‘seat time’ behind the wheel of each of the cars they get to try.
This is probably true; we really did get a lot of driving done in a single day, and the Audi experience is certainly very impressive – and therefore great value – in this respect.
But it does also mean that your personal experience may be slightly subject to abilities (or not) of your driving partner. If you’re attending the day with a friend or partner, this is no problem (presumably), but otherwise you will be sharing a car with a total stranger.
You can get out when it’s the other driver’s turn if you wish, so perhaps that’s not a very big deal. But because you’re not seated with an instructor, there’s also no-one checking even basic things such as the aforementioned steering wheel position, and so forth.
As such, we do wonder how much a less experienced driver will get out of the day. If no-one is there to correct your bad habits, how will you know that you have them?
On the other hand, if you simply want to drive fast without interference, this will certainly be for you.
For our part, we got a great deal out of the track exercises – and found that looking as far through the corner as possible on the circuit transferred directly to the road, enabling better anticipation which in turn improves safety. It could be worth it for that alone.
The Parkers verdict
While we’re not entirely convinced that having the instructors outside of the cars will be the best way of improving for every participant, the Audi Sport Driving Experience delivers an excellent amount of driving time for the money, and by the end of the day you’ll have a real feel for what these cars can do.
Even if track driving isn’t something that interests you, the activities we took part in were cleverly designed to make them applicable to road driving as well. So especially if you’re lucky enough to own one of the cars involved, this is an excellent was of learning more about them.
Four out of five. Not quite essential, but well worth the money.