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Can Porsche make you a better driver?

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"the YouDrive course isn't concerned with meaningless lap times, but it might make you a better and safer driver"

"the YouDrive course isn't concerned with meaningless lap times, but it might make you a better and safer driver"

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The UK isn't short of performance driving courses; a cursory internet search returns dozens of results, a promising to make you a few seconds quicker round a track after an afternoon spent in an implausible range of automotive exotica.

But the YouDrive course offered by Porsche at its custom-built experience centre at Silverstone isn't concerned with meaningless lap times or the finer points of theoretical race craft, instead the focus is on car control and a few tips that might make you a better and safer driver.

The one-day course is a low-cost metamorphosis of the complimentary one Porsche gives its customers to get them accustomed to their new car. In this case, as the name suggests, you're welcome to bring any car you like.

We turned up in the Nissan 370Z Roadster. The butch convertible was perfect for two reasons; firstly, it was a good chance to have a proper look at Nissan's topless Z car, and secondly, the 370Z is a 320bhp rear-drive car with a reputation for hairy-chested handling.

The day begins with an hour long theory session held in the bowels of the Porsche Experience Centre. Part lecture, part Q&A session, it outlines the tenets of advanced driving in digestible bullet points. If that sounds a little dry, it isn't, thanks in large part to the friendly delivery of Porsche's lead instructor and the riotous sense of humour of Fifth Gear's own Vicki Butler-Henderson who co-hosts the course. The unlikely comedy duo effortlessly guided its captive audience through a giggly confessional of common driving faults and forgotten facts, before ushering us into our own cars for some track time.

First up was the kick-plate. This devilish contraption is basically a hydraulic plate that allows the car's front wheels to pass, and then kicks the rear sideways to induce a slide; a special low-grip water-soaked surface takes care of the rest. The device is intended to recreate the circumstances of an unexpected loss of traction, and it certainly works. The instructors, a mix of racing drivers, rally drivers and former police officers, kicked off with a demonstration and a few tips, and then it was our turn.

The 370Z proved equal to the task at the leisurely recommended speed, but was a much bigger handful when we cranked up the pace. More than once we passed the point of no return and found ourselves helplessly pirouetting in the wet. Our collective blushes were always spared by the instructors though, who stifled their amusement by offering a few wise words for the return run.

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