It’s no secret that B.C. is home to some of the best driving roads anywhere, from the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway to the twisty backcountry of the Okanagan Valley. To truly take advantage of it, however, you need the right mix of company and cars. Porsche offers one solution in the form of the Porsche Travel Experience (PTE) British Columbia.
PTE, the most recent edition taking place in June and that I was fortunate to tag along on, encompasses on-road driving, off-roading and track time at the brand new Area 27 Motorsports Park. Starting off at the Vancouver airport, there are stops in Whistler, Vernon and Osoyoos covering a distance of more than 500 kilometres over four days. The event is led by two Porsche-employed professional drivers, who serve as both hosts and instructors.
Now, onto the vehicles. Although the lineup changes slightly from time-to-time, I spent the majority of my time in a rear-wheel drive 2018 911 Carrera GTS Coupé. Introduced last year and also available and in Cabriolet or Targa form with all-wheel drive, the model has seen big changes beneath the hood. Namely, the naturally aspirated 3.8-litre flat six has been replaced by a 3.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 450 horsepower — 30 more than before.
Created for, as Porsche says, the everyday 911 driver looking for “greater sporting dynamics” while being suitable for regular use, this is truly the case. When putteringing about in the city the GTS felt composed and civilized, but completely transformed into a roaring sports car at the press of the sport exhaust button on the centre console and a dash of throttle out on the highway.
The first stop at the end of day one was the Four Seasons in Whistler. Stays at three beautiful resorts, and all group meals, are included in the PTE package. The GTS looked stunning parked out front, boasting rear wheel arches that are 44 millimetres wider than the standard Carrera 4 body, a black front lip spoiler, larger air intakes and centre locking 20-inch wheels previously reserved for Turbo-badged variants only.
The 911 can do a lot of things — off-roading obviously isn’t one of them. For that, Porsche brought along a small fleet of 2018 Cayenne S’ to tackle a series of specially built trails in B.C.’s Callaghan Valley. Participants piled two-deep into the 440-horsepower SUVs, instructors in the lead, traversing pothole-ridden dirt roads, streambeds and even rocks. Aside from experiencing true motoring off the beaten path, the exercise is an excellent showcase for the vehicle’s technologies like three-chamber air suspension, hill decent control and traction management.
Highway runs and off-road excursions are no doubt thoroughly enjoyable activities, though for me personally, the absolute highlight was getting to visit Area 27 located in the town of Oliver. The nearly five-kilometre members-only racetrack, designed by F1 legend Jaqcques Villeneuve, is coming up on its two-year anniversary and still undergoing site upgrades. Through an official partnership, PTE had exclusive use of the facility for a few hours on the second to last day of the trip. The team was split into two and got to lap the track again in a lead-follow setup with the instructors, who offered their professional advice during the break in-between two sessions of driving.
In addition to the summer travel experience, which also takes place on the opposite coast in Nova Scotia, there is a more performance-oriented program as well as a winter excursion in Quebec called Camp4 (check out our previous coverage). For more information, visit porscheexperience.ca.