It’s no secret that British Columbia is home to some of the best driving roads that can be found anywhere, from the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway to the twisty backcountry of the Okanagan Valley. To truly take advantage of these roads, however, you need the right mix of company and cars. Porsche offers one solution in the form of Porsche Travel Experience (PTE) British Columbia.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to tag along on the most recent PTE B.C. event in June. PTE B.C. encompasses on-road driving, off-roading, and track time at the brand new Area 27 Motorsports Club. Starting off at the Vancouver airport with stops in Whistler, Vernon, and Osoyoos, the route covers 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, in June I spent the majority of my time in a rear-wheel drive 2018 911 Carrera GTS Coupe. Introduced last year and also available in Cabriolet and 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 Namely, the naturally aspirated 3.8-litre flat six has been replaced by a 3.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 450 horsepower—30 more than before.
As Porsche says, the 911 Carrera GTS Coupe was created for the everyday driver looking for “greater sporting dynamics” while being suitable for regular use. This truly is the case. When puttering around in the city, the GTS felt composed and civilized, but it is completely transformed into a roaring sports car at the push of the sport exhaust button on the centre console and with a dash of throttle out on the highway.
The first stop at the end of day one was the Four Seasons resort in Whistler. Stays at three beautiful resorts and all of the 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 only for the Turbo-badged variants.
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 SUVs to tackle a series of specially built trails in B.C.’s Callaghan Valley. Participants piled two-deep into the 440-horsepower SUVs, and with the instructors in the lead, we began traversing pothole-ridden dirt roads, stream beds, 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 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 Jacques 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 we had the opportunity to lap the track again in a lead-follow setup with the instructors, who offered their professional advice during the break between two driving sessions.
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.
For more information, visit porscheexperience.ca
Benjamin Yong is a freelance writer from Vancouver, B.C., and a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/b_yong