Porsche opened its first United States Experience Center in Atlanta last year, and the facility’s combination of vintage race cars, modern technology showcases, and high-octane driving thrills offered a unforgettable day out for Porsche fans. Now, it’s the West Coast’s turn.
The brand’s Los Angeles Experience Center celebrated its grand opening this week ahead of the 2016 L.A. Auto Show, and Digital Trends got a sneak peek. The $60 million complex is quite stunning, and between its suite of racing simulators and a 4.1-mile driver development track, it has just about anything a gearhead could want.
When you walk into the facility, the first thing you’ll see is an expansive hall riddled with highlights from Porsche’s 85-year history — a legendary Gulf Oil 917K, a slew of modern 911s, and to the right, a workshop where Porsche Motorsport North America tunes and restores purpose-built race cars and select customer vehicles. There’s plenty of history to be seen in the 53-acre complex, but for the most part, people visit the Experience Center to drive.
Just like in Atlanta, Porsche owners, guests, and corporate groups can visit the facility to refine their driving skills in a safe, controlled environment. There are a total of eight modules designed to focus on particular aspects of driving, including two handling courses, a short off-road section, a launch control and acceleration straightaway, and a variety of low traction circuits. These sections are designed to hone a driver’s reflexes in slick conditions.
A particular highlight is the hydraulic kick-plate, which has moving sections that shove your vehicle’s caboose out at a steep angle, requiring the driver to countersteer and regain control. Porsche says these exercises are vital to developing good habits (and squashing bad ones), and there are a bevy of professional instructors to help you do just that.
As you might imagine, visiting the Experience Center isn’t exactly cheap. A 1.5-hour session behind the wheel of a 718 Boxster will set you back $385, but the price rises to a steep $950 for track time in a 911 Turbo or 911 GT3.
Is it worth it? There are few facilities in the world that offer this type of education, excitement, and historical interest in one place, so if you live and breathe all things Porsche, the Experience Center is a can’t-miss attraction. If you don’t, it’s probably still worth consideration for special occasions, as this really is a playground for those who love driving.
Porsche’s also has Experience Centers in Le Mans, France; Leipzig, Germany; and on the Silverstone Circuit in England. The next Experience Center is currently being built in Shanghai, China.