World Class Driving Review – One Day, Five Supercars

Audi R8 and Maserati GranTurismo

Audi R8 and Maserati GranTurismo

When’s the last time you drove a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera? How about a Mercedes McLaren SLR? For most of us, that never happens. The lucky few who can, however, either have enough money to buy one, have a rich friend or relative, or paid an exorbitant amount of money to rent one.

Now though, a company called World Class Driving has done all the heavy lifting for you. They tour the country with five supercars at their disposal, charging customers $1495$1695 to drive each one for about 30 minutes a piece. There’s probably a stop close to you, so check out the tour schedule and see what cars will be there.

We had a chance to attend a World Class Driving (WCD) event in Charlotte, NC last month. Was it worth the $1500 price tag? Keep reading to find out…

Christine and I in the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera

Christine and I in the Lambo

We showed up at the Hampton Inn Southpark hotel in Charlotte at Noon – just in time for the briefing and lunch. After signing the insurance waivers and the necessary agreements (no unnecessary revving of the engines, no burnouts, no turning off traction control, etc) we went over the basics of handling a supercar vs. a regular car. We didn’t actually get out of there until around 1:30, as it seems someone in the group before us crashed one of the cars. More on that later.

As we headed outside, there sat our supercars – a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, Mercedes McLaren SLR, Audi R8, and a Maserati GranTurismo. Oh, the beauty. Passers-by all stopped and gawked, taking pictures and asking about the cars. This leads to my main complaint about WCD: while these cars are great, they were not the cars that I expected to be there. In fact, the list of cars changed multiple times. When we registered for World Class Driving, the list of cars were as follows:

  • Ferrari 599 Fiorano
  • Mercedes SLR McLaren
  • Ferrari F430
  • Audi R8
  • Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
  • Callaway C16

When I checked a couple months before the event, they changed again:

  • Ferrari 599 Fiorano or Mercedes SLR McLaren
  • Ferrari 430 Scuderia
  • Lamborghini LP560-4
  • Callaway C16
  • Maserati GranTurismo
  • Spare

After being assured that the list would not be changed again, I checked the list right before the event, and it was as follows:

  • Ferrari 430 Scuderia or Mercedes McLaren SLR
  • Lamborghini LP560-4
  • Nissan GT-R
  • Audi R8
  • Maserati GranTurismo
  • Callaway C16

And here’s the list of what was actually there:

  • Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
  • Audi R8
  • Mercedes SLR McLaren
  • Maserati GranTurismo

This is frustrating – if you registered because you were looking forward to a specific car (like the Lamborghini LP560-4 for example,) the list changed and you won’t be able to drive that car anymore.

Lamborghini Gallardo and Maserati GranTurismo - World Class Driving

Lamborghini Gallardo and Maserati GranTurismo

But there were supposed to be five cars, not four. Turns out the Ferrari 430 Scuderia was the car that was wrecked, and was still on the side of road. Another frustrating thing was that WCD said they always have a spare car in case something happens to one of them, but apparently didn’t have a backup this time. They promised all of the drivers that once they come back into the area (May 2009,) we can come back to drive the Ferrari.

After we got done taking pictures and getting briefed on our specific starting cars (we were in the Audi R8 first,) we took off from the hotel. I’ve been in love with the Audi R8 since it was unveiled, so at this point I was in heaven. Incredibly smooth, awesome engine noise, plenty of interior room, and very quick. The first half of the first drive was through traffic. Starting and stopping at stoplights, working through traffic, etc. This was rather unpleasant, since we only got the last half of the first car drive on open roads. After about 20 minutes (felt like 10,) we got out and went on to the second rotation.

The format of the drive was as follows: a lead car driven by our instructor led the way. The rest of us followed behind him, not allowed to pass him or any of the other cars. This naturally led to all of the cars falling way behind the lead car so we could step on it, catching up very quickly, then slowing down again to repeat the process.

Our second car was the Maserati GranTurismo. Very smooth and comfortable, great interior look and feel. The acceleration of the Maserati was not as responsive as the Audi, but was more of a swelling speed. An excellent touring car in every way.

Christine in the Mercedes SLR McLaren at World Class Driving

Christine in the Mercedes SLR McLaren

Next up was the Mercedes SLR McLaren. Christine drove the SLR (as you can see above.) She commented on the SLR being very fast, but not having much of a personality. “It’s really fast, but it’s just another Mercedes” she remarked. An incredibly fast car, but there was something missing. Talking with the other drivers of the day, they felt the same way.

Last up was the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. Now this is a supercar, and arguably the coolest car of the bunch. The bright orange finish with the “Superleggera” stripe, carbon fiber everything, and gunmetal wheels drew lots of attention, and had the best engine note of them all. A 520 horsepower V10 and active exhaust served as the radio in this Lambo. Opening the door reveals a nearly flat bare carbon fiber door panel inside. No door handle to close it, just a cloth strap to pull. All of this saves a lot of weight of course, making this Gallardo track-ready and super fun to drive. Without question my favorite car to fall back in – slowing down, cruising at 35, downshifting to 2nd gear, and flooring the throttle rewarded us with explosive acceleration, a screaming Lamborghini V10 behind us…next thing we know the car in front of us is coming up fast as the speedo reads 120 mph. Carbon-ceramic brakes slowed us down very quickly.

After the drive, we went back to the hotel and collected our gift bags, which consisted of a folder containing two photos they took before the drive, and a certificate of completion. Also in the bag was a WCD hat, some literature on World Class Driving, and a very cool laser-etched glass Ferrari 599 Fiorano model. We talked with some of the other drivers, traded business cards, thanked the WCD staff, and were on our way back home.

So let’s get what we didn’t like out of the way first. I didn’t like that they switched around the cars so much prior to the drive. I completely understand and encourage the practice of keeping the rotation fresh and offer customers the latest and greatest cars. However, when the list changes at least four times, chances are some of the customers were there for at least one specific car. If that car isn’t there anymore, they’re going to be disappointed. I was extremely disappointed when the list changed and the Audi R8 was omitted; thankfully it changed again and the R8 came back. I was also looking forward to the Nissan GT-R and Lamborghini LP560-4, which weren’t there.

Audi R8 at World Class Driving

Audi R8

Second, the Ferrari 430 Scuderia accident was bad for two reasons: mainly we didn’t get to drive it, and they didn’t have a backup car for us to drive. Also it seemed like the staff was more distracted with the Ferrari than they were with focusing on the customers having a good time. Yes it sucks the Ferrari got wrecked, but that’s what insurance is for.

Lastly, I didn’t like having to spend the first half of the first car driving through city traffic. I kind of feel robbed out of part of my time with the R8, since it was the open roads that were the fun parts of driving. Additionally, I wish there was more time with each car. It felt like we were kind of in a hurry to get back before the sun fell since we took off late.

So, despite the few complaints about the event, it was a great time. I look forward to returning in May to drive the Ferrari, and I hope all of the other drivers worked something out as well. For $1500, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us, and a great gift for any car lover. Some of the other drivers there were repeat customers, and most said they would go again. I just hope they keep the freshest new cars coming in (hint: Audi R8 V10,) and with a few tweaks to their process (longer drive times, keep a backup car, etc) would be a perfect experience. Based on our time there and reactions from other drivers, I highly recommend trying out World Class Driving or giving it as a gift to any car lover.

Check out WorldClassDriving.com to view schedules, check out the cars, and book your experience. Thanks to the WCD crew for a great time, and I hope to see you at another event soon.

Check out the photos below:


Categories:: Car ReviewsEventsProduct Reviews


  • http://www.madwhips.com Vinay M

    Great Article. I was really looking forward to reading this. What I found most interesting about your review were all the minuses you mentioned. I would completely fall into the category of being someone who would be very specifically looking forward to certain cars, and it would certainly irk me if the line-up were to change. A couple of questions. How do you feel about the value of this excursion for 1500 bucks? From reading the review it seems like a quick afternoon that must have flown by and felt very brief. Also, If you could hand-pick the 5 cars yourself, which ones would they be? Very good review, and great photos too.

    -Vinay

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    Vinay, thanks for the comment and compliment. To answer your questions:

    "How do you feel about the value of this excursion for 1500 bucks?"

    In my opinion, it's worth it at least once if you have the money. Some of the people there have done it more than once, and almost all of them said they would do it again for sure. Driving a supercar is like nothing else, and truly an awesome experience. It's weird for a lot of people, because exotic cars are just in a another class. Buttons are in the wrong place, door handles are weird, the controls are totally different, and it's just amazing. If someone has only driven regular cars, getting into a supercar is a great experience. They're hooked once they tap the paddle shifter into 1st and hit the throttle.

    You're right in that it went by fast (very fast,) and I think the drive times in each car should be lengthened; 20-30 minutes in each car is just way too short, especially when you're dealing with city traffic.

    "If you could hand-pick the 5 cars yourself, which ones would they be?"

    I would keep the Audi R8 there, and probably keep the Ferrari 430 Scuderia (that or the 599 Fiorano, which is on some WCD routes.) I would probably replace the Gallardo Superleggera with the new Lamborghini 560-4 or Murcielago LP640. I'd add the Aston Martin DBS or V8 Vantage, and I'd love to see a supercar like a Koenigsegg CCX or Pagani Zonda; something very exclusive like that would attract a lot of people. How about you?

  • http://www.madwhips.com Vinay M

    Wow – Zonda and CCX. I suppose if $ Million Plus Supercars are included, I would choose:

    – Enzo Ferrari

    – Koenigsegg CCX

    – Pagani Zonda F

    – Mclaren F1

    – Gumpert Apollo

    I suppose a list like that would cost MUCH more than 1500 bucks. I think for 1500 bucks, I would find Great value if there was 1 hour drive-time in each car, on a closed course, and if the line-up was:

    – Ferrari 430 Scuderia

    – Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

    – Porsche Carrera GT

    – Ariel Atom

    – Mosler MT900S

    Is that asking too much?

    Man, I still can't believe some amateur driver crashed a rented 430 Scud!!!!!

    From the cars you drove, Would you personally own any of those?

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    I would only suggest having one ultra-supercar there like the CCX or Zonda. They had the MB SLR McLaren there, which cost more than the CCX, just slower and without the personality of the CCX. The only thing about those cars is that they're SO insane, I think there would be more of a chance of wrecking them, which isn't a good idea.

    Good list of yours – that would be cool. An hour drive time I think is a reasonable request, although getting a closed course might be a problem, and would end up costing more. Plus, you have to keep in mind these are mostly amateur drivers who wouldn't know how to handle these cars if there was no speed limit.

    Would I own one of those? Yes – the Audi R8 was fantastic, and would buy one right now if I had the money. The Lambo was the most fun to drive, but I could think of other cars I'd rather have for the money. The SLR was overrated and overpriced, and the Maserati is a great touring car, but there are other touring cars I'd rather have for the money. We didn't drive the 430 Scuderia, so I can't comment on that yet. I'm still pissed about that :)

  • http://www.madwhips.com Vinay M

    The CCX costs about twice what the McLaren SLR did. I believe the Koenigsegg CCX costs around $900,000 +, and the SLR was in the $450,000 range.

    Out of curiosity, what touring car would you choose in place of the Maserati, Chris? I suppose I would take a 599 GTB Fiorano, although I kind of think of the Murcielago as a touring car. Atleast part touring car / part spaceship!

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    Vinay, I consider a touring car a comfortable cruiser that also has power, so I wouldn't consider a 599 or a Murci a tourer, but that's just me. If I were to replace it with one though – I'd probably go with an Aston Martin DB9 or V8 Vantage.

  • Alison

    Just saw this review on WCD and saw u guys chatting a bit and wanted to jump in. Gotta say totally worth it at least once. My bf is a car junky and he's been twice. I bought him the experience the first time and went along with him. I thought about a rental for us instead, but it was way more expensive. This way, you can get a behind the wheel of a bunch of cars. Sorry to hear about the Scud! We drove it in French Lick! AMAZING.

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    Alison – I'm glad to hear you had a good time, and I agree that it's worth it at least once. That's a good point about the rental car – a day in a mid-range supercar will cost as much or more than WCD, and you only get one car.

  • http://www.AtlantaCosmeticDentists.com Peter

    I am glad you posted this. My father and I are giving this to each other for Christmas. I was wondering though if you can really DRIVE these cars. I'm looking for a little more adrenaline rush possibly. Maybe I'll look at the Ariel Atom course. Thanks for the post though.

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    Peter, great gift! There are definitely times during the drive in which you can hit some decent speeds. You're not "supposed" to go that fast obviously, but there are plenty of chances to fall back and step on it. I think you'll enjoy the event – please come back and let us know how it goes.

  • http://www.AtlantaDentalSpa.com Peter

    Chris, I'm excited. I'm also debating about doing the Ariel Atom Experience. Google it. It's blow the pants off a Lambo! After I saw it on Top Gear, I have wanted one. Not as exotic as driving the WC cars, but it might be more fun. I'll write back in regardless.

  • Atlanta

    That's pretty neat, I still like the Lamborghini though. In fact the Countach 25th Anniversary is my favorite. I wonder how the older Lanbos fair against the new one?

  • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris

    Atlanta – I haven't driven the Countach yet, but I'd love to. From what I understand they're much more difficult to drive, but I adore those cars. Keep an eye out here, I hope to do a feature on the Countach in the near future. The Gallardo is very easy to drive, very responsive.

  • Yuri

    I've been thinking of making myself a birthday present ever since WCD started to advertise and to be honest I probably never will. To me $1500 is a very steep price to pay. I stand corrected…. $1500 may be reasonable for once in a lifetime chance of driving super cars but with my pay it would be wiser to spend that money on a week's cruise to bahamas, dive with sharks, pet a shark and do an upside down hand stand on top of a giraffe or something. $1500 is a little too expensive for a chance to sit in traffic for half of allotted time. Frankly speaking if you are going to sit in a stand still super car you might as well just go to a car show and pay $80 admission fee and sit in every single super car there.

    I noticed that WCD now offers track racing which I think is more appropriate considering all options. 10 laps in a super car x 5 or 6 different cars in a racing environment is absolutely definitely worth $1500. Now that would be a good birthday present. Except that they probably charge $5000 or more for that kind of thing.

  • Jim

    I had a very uncomfortable experience with World Class Driving on August 24th. This was at the Monticello Motor Club course and the brochure says a full day of driving instruction with racing Ferrari’s on the 4.1 mile course. Also in the brochure, it states that a former Formula 1 driver would be doing the instructing and your American Express credit card would be held to charge you up to $8,000 in the event of an accident. On the morning of the event, the participants were told the credit card would be charged up to $20,000 in the event of an accident, they were using only the South Course (less than a two mile track with no straight aways) and the instructor, who never drove Formula 1, would not be in the car instructing, but critiquing videos after the drive. I have attended many a driving school, primarily NASCAR, and had always gotten along with the in car instructors. On this day, the instructor yelled at me and I decided to end the session half way through. I was trying the best I could do. I asked for less than half my fee back, but they rejected the request. The school in overpriced and the risk you take in getting into one of these cars and damaging is not worth the excitement.

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