I wrote a little intro piece on “The Drive” when the initial press release came out, but have heard nothing of it since – until I checked my email this morning.
For those of you that haven’t heard about it, The Drive is an 11-acre driving course that’s been set up by GM in Las Vegas. For $10 you get your choice of vehicle and the appropriate course to drive it on. There’s a road course that caters to the Corvette, Solstice, Caddy CTS-V and STS-V, Pontiac GTO and the 9-3 ‘vert. There’s also an off-road course for the Hummers and other GM SUV’s.
I’d like to thank David R, who checked it out recently and filed this in my inbox….
…..To get in you have to watch this video on how great GM cars are, and how you must drive safely. Then you take the breathalyzer and you are on your way for $10, which isn’t a bad price, with which you get to drive two loops.
They have two 9-3 Aero convertibles, both automatic, with no plans to ever have any manuals. Unfortunately they would not let me switch the transmission into manual mode. The driver riding with me kept his hand on the transmission the whole time to make sure I didn’t “accidentally” switch it over to manual. Although the racetrack is small, they still allow you to put the petal to the metal and drive as fast as you want.
At the beginning of the track there is a straightaway that you can blaze down, which curves around as you can see in the pictures into a twisty track. The car ate up the pavement on the straightaway and with agility moved through the curves. It was surprisingly easy to go very fast through the twists. There was a Pontiac Solstice that had gone in the line before me. I caught up to it very quickly in every loop I did on the track. I out performed it in acceleration in the straightaway and I almost kissed its rear bumper when going through the twists. While the Solstice seemed to be working hard at going through the turns the Saab acted as through it knew where it was going already.
I have never driven one of the new V6’s before. I was surprised how much more meaty the engine sounded, it had a very nice exhaust note, sporty but refined. When flooring it, the transmission didn’t shift until the redline as you would expect. However, it shifted at a very high 35 miles per hour into second gear at 6500 RPM. The light pressure turbo kicked in at about 10 miles per hour when the car said “oh, you want to go THAT fast huh?”, and then you got to rest the back of your head on the headrests to avoid whiplash.
Although the performance track is fun to drive, I would also really recommend the off road track. Take an H2 or H3 over this thing. They take you through some impossible 18 inch curb hopping and make you climb over stuff you never thought you could make. It was pretty fun to be hanging by your seatbelt practically on your side or face down while driving the course.