I wish they offered this here in Oz.
Buy a Saab Aero in the US and your name gets registered for attendance at the Saab Aero Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. OK, you have to get yourself there and accommodate yourself, but once you do it’s 2 days of intensive driving tuition – a chance to learn the capabilities of both you and your new machine.
Attendance at the academy is available for anyone that buys a 2006 model 9-3 Aero or anyone who has/does buy a 2004-onwards 9-5 Aero.
You spend approximately 20% of the time in the classroom learning the appropriate theories, presumably about braking, cornering, weight transfer etc etc and then it’s out onto the track and the skidpan for the various exercises that will teach you the right way to handle yourself in various situations.
From the website:
Push your Saab to the limits in this safe and controlled environment. The skid pad simulates rain, snow and ice conditions, as well as situations where the driver has exceeded the limits of the vehicle. Learn how to control understeer (front) and oversteer (rear) skids with proper steering, throttle, and brake responses.
This challenging exercise teaches students how to initially apply the brake and improve reaction time. Avoid brake lockup. Practice using 100% of the vehicle’s straight-line stopping ability. Master stopping your Aero in the shortest distance possible.
The trail braking exercise consists of straight-line threshold braking and then turning while maintaining brake pressure. This involves eye, hand, and foot coordination in order to maintain control and to stay within the limits of the vehicle.
This exercise is designed to help improve your reflexes and car-control skills. Learn to manage the weight transfer of the vehicle and balanced threshold braking. Practice accident avoidance by maneuvering your Aero to the correct lane indicated by the accident simulator.
Drive the correct line. Manage your weight transfer. Fine tune your timing and throttle adjustments. Apply the right amount of steering. And, of course, leave all those orange cones standing.
Finesse Driving Course
How good are your braking, cornering, and acceleration skills? Here, the object is to do it all while keeping a ball in a bowl attached to the roof of your Aero. As you’ll see, it takes a smooth driving technique to conquer the Finesse Driving Course.
Now you’re ready for the grand finale. The autocross is a scaled-down racetrack that gives you the opportunity to combine all your new skills-cornering, use of proper line, braking and acceleration, and skid control-into one smooth exercise that uses 100% of the car’s potential.
Anyone ever done this course after buying a new Aero? I reckon it’d be a blast! I’ve only been to one track day and it was the most fun I’ve ever had sitting down (except for that one time….). Track opportunities are a little limited here in Hobart due to limited facilities and also the limited number of people you can hook up with to hire them. You can read the write-up on our local track day earlier this year by clicking here. It was a great day, but I’d love to be able to participate in some of the sensational track events I’ve seen footage of from Europe and the UK.
At the link above, there’s all the info on the Academy, as well as a quick video showing some of the Saabs being put through their paces. Looks great. The student-instructor ratio is kept down to 4:1, so there’s plenty of opportunities to learn too.