Just because you have a luxury sports car doesn't mean that you know how to drive it, and there's a good chance you've terrified one (or several) of your friends with your high-speed cornering and sudden braking. If you've dropped your cash on a powerful machine, you owe it to the auto to learn how to really get the most from it and that's where driving schools come in—and we're not talking about those awkward classes you had to take as a teenager to get your license. Most of your favorite auto marquees have their own academies set up, from some as simple as time on a track to others that offer full lifestyle experiences. Here are the seven driving experiences that we want to test out the most.
The Jaguar Performance Driving Academy offers three different course levels, with the first one starting at $895 and the third at $2,895. Depending on which course you go with—though we don't know why you wouldn't just sign up for all three—you'll get to race around a track and participate in activities like autocross, lead-follow, skid-control, exit strategies, corner entry, a figure-eight skid pad, and more. The third level will also get you a video-recorded data analysis of your laps, which are compared to the professional driver's numbers.
Taking place in Colorado and Steamboat Springs on January 11-13, 2015, Ferrari's newest offering is called Corso Pilota on Ice and is offered exclusively to Ferrari owners. Created to highlight the FF model, the dynamic program includes a two-night stay at The Four Seasons Vail; breakfasts, lunches and dinners; transportation; on-board data capture and analysis of your drives; a video and photo package; and event memorabilia. It also includes a one-day ski lift ticket and a rental package so you can get some skiing in. It costs $13,000 and an extra $1,050 if you want to bring a guest.
Maserati's two-day event begins at the Riccardo Paletti Autodrome in Varano de’ Melegari and ends in and around Florence. Not only a driving course, it also brings in the luxurious Italian lifestyle filled with art and fashion. Designed for couples, costing around $6,247 for the driver and $1,646 for the companion, the two-day event includes on-circuit training on a dynamic course and is reserved for those who already own a Maserati or who are planning on getting one. The second half of the experience includes a shopping spree, fine dining, and a tour of Florence and Parma. There is also a fun test drive through the Chianti region's hills and a foodie tour of the Castello Frescobaldi.
Porsche actually has tons of driving options, from romantic couples packages that costs $4,300 (including a round of golf or a spa treatment for two) to a woman's only two-day course priced at $3,200 (which includes the Cayennes off-road course). It's the $6,000 Porsche Sport Driving School’s 3-Day Masters Plus that we're really interested in though. Designed for those who have already completed the Masters program, participants will be trained by racing's finest, while behind the wheel of the marquee's best sports cars at Barber Motorsports Park. Emphasizing track time and the development of car control skills, you'll start by learning basics like heel/toe down shifting and braking/skid control. By the end of the weekend you'll have learned techniques to shave important seconds off of your track time and will even be eligible to apply for a SCCA Regional License, which will allow you to enter SCCA racing events.
BMW offers four different driving opportunities—Driver's Programs, Teen School, M School, and Motorcycle—but we like the M School the best. You can choose between the one-day option ($1,450), which features cornering, downshift, drifting, and timed laps; the two-day ($3,595), which adds figure-eights to the mix; the advanced school ($5,000 if you include accommodations) so you can get some time on a track; and the driving and golf option ($1,950), which obviously comes with some time on the green.
With offerings around the globe, the AMG Driving Academy offers time in autos like the C 63 AMG Coupé Edition 507 and the SLS AMG GT Coupé Final Edition. They have the AMG EMOTION-Tour in Sardinia and St. Moritz, the Winter Sporting BASIC in Austria, and master challenges like the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (nicknamed the Canadian Green Hell). All you have to do is check out their schedule and sign up!
Audi offers programs that focus on the R8, ones that are primarily off-track and some that are on-track, so it's really just a matter of what kind of racing you're looking to do. But let's be honest, if you're looking to really race, so why not opt for the R8 track offerings? The R8 Introduction ($1,895) is the baseline skill-building course, including classroom discussions, car-control exercises, and four 30-minutes lapping sessions. The Intermediate is the next step up, costing $1,995, and includes an autocross competition so you can practice trail braking, cornering techniques, and vehicle rotation, as well as four more 30-minutes laps. The final one-on-one coaching session is the R8 Advanced ($2,995), taking you out on the Sonoma Raceway without any lead-follow. You get five open lapping sessions with your instructor either sitting in the passenger seat or in a different car trailing behind.