Sam Austen – My U Drive Cars Experience
The U Drive Cars experience is second to none and here’s why!
I’ve always wanted to try a fast car. With relatively little knowledge as to what makes a “good car”, I thought I’d try a supercar and a classic and take it from there. After recommendations from friends, I decided to try the U Drive experience. The Nissan GTR was the first car booked, shortly followed by some American muscle, the Mustang.
Now, you hear a lot about these “track days” and how you can get left to you own devices (to a certain extent), but that’s not what I was looking for. I was looking for an experience, somewhere you can can get a feel for the car, where you learn about the best ways to handle them and somewhere you can experience the power of their engines. Thankfully, U Drive offered the very best experience I could possibly have hoped for.
When you arrive, you’re greeted by one of several helpful members of staff. You have to fill in a disclaimer with your usual personal details and emergency contacts, but it’s quick and only takes five minutes at most. Andrea, the member of staff I spoke with, talked me through how the day would run, told me where to be at what times and answered a couple of questions I had.
Around 10 to 15 minutes after arrival, Andrea, gave a briefing to all the drivers involved in our session. For a brief it was actually really good. Yes you have the usual part about not driving like a lunatic and the other health and safety requirements, but you also have a section about your racing line. You’re told about how certain markers on the track are there to guide you and how if you follow them you’ll get the most out of the cars. Overtaking rules of the track are explained, which ensure that all drivers get the most out of their cars and nobody is held up.
When the briefing finishes you head off in the mini bus with Chris and the other drivers to do a familiarisation lap. You go round the track learning what the various markings mean, whilst taking in the best places to slow down and speed up. Then there’s a small wait until you are called for your turn. The feeling of excitement builds up and you can feel a touch of nerves too. After all, these cars are significantly more powerful than my 1.2L Corsa!
The Nissan GTR
What. A. Car. As soon as the V6 engine springs into life you can feel it’s 473bhp straight away. A feature I was really impressed with was the paddle shifters (of all the things to pick!), as I’d never seen these before. There’s no clutch on the car which is a blessing, as I don’t think I’d have been quick enough changing through the gears! As soon as you set off you can feel the force of the engine, which explodes into life as you hit the first straight. The handling was fantastic and using my new favourite accessory, the paddle shifters, I felt like I was in a Need For Speed racing game.
Next to me was Mark, who talked me through how the car worked and who gave advice throughout on when to switch up and down gears. You always have an instructor with you, who will take you through the mechanics of the car and who will guide you around the track. What I didn’t expect was for him to tell me to speed up every so often. They not only keep you safe but push you to drive the car as quickly and efficiently as possible around the track.
Coming in from the GTR experience, you feel a little bit of sadness. You realise fairly quickly that it will be a while before you’re in a car like this again, if ever! However, the Mustang experience was still to come and the GTR was such good fun.
The Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is phenomenal! The V8 engine roars into action and this 1967 beauty purrs as you wait to set off. Clutch down, gear stick button in and down to drive and you’re off. Paul was the instructor this time and he provided me with a few things to expect from a car of this age. The handling was a little bit more difficult than in the GTR, but what I didn’t expect was how quick the 0-60 is! You know and can feel how powerful this car is, but in around 7 seconds you’re already at 60mph!
The Mustang is a car to be enjoyed, to be experienced. You don’t want to hit the top speed of 125mph. It would be like downing a glass of the finest wine. You need to settle in, enjoy it and use some the power on offer, but ultimately you should take the time to appreciate this classic car.
Eventually time is up and you pull in. What a fantastic experience, not only the Mustang but the GTR as well. The experience is over, but the memory will last a lifetime.
Overall, it was a fantastic day, I definitely had my eye on a few of the other cars for a return visit at some point too (I think the Audi R8 is calling). Was there a negative from the day? Probably not, there wasn’t a thing about my day that I’d change.
The Mustang was incredible, but the highlight of the day was definitely unleashing the GTR down the straight. The staff at U Drive really do go beyond expectations to provide you with a great experience. From the moment I walked in to the moment I left I couldn’t stop smiling and that’s a credit to everyone at U Drive and the cars too!