Lamborghini Gallardo (olgaru79/Bigstock.com)
Many of us have shot envious glances at expensive supercars parked up outside flashy hotels – or when they've overtaken us on the Queen's Highway with nothing more than a growl and spit of Italian engineering. Such moments can make us feel rather hum-drum in our little economical hatchbacks or sensible family saloons.
Ferrari 458 (EvrenKalinbacak/Bigstock.com)
However, these days, even the most modestly-waged among us can get behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Aventador or a McLaren MP4-12C – simply by booking a supercar experience day.
But how to get the most from your hard-earned cash? Here we've come up with 11 essentials to consider before you dig out the credit card...
McLaren MP4-12C (Dutourdumonde/Bigstock.com)
- Make sure you do your research before you buy. Has anyone you know been on a driving experience day? Is there a company they can recommend? In addition, take the time to read a few reviews and blogs online. TripAdvisor can be especially helpful.
- Ask how often the cars are serviced. A poorly serviced supercar can reduce your enjoyment out on the track – especially when you're expecting your favourite supercar to give you a sensational driving experience. Online customer reviews might be more helpful in answering this question than paid sales agents.
- Make sure you know what is included before you buy. More affordable experience day firms may present you with a number of optional extras such as additional laps and handbrake turns. Be aware of these so you can decide if the day represents good value for money.
- Make sure you do the number of laps you've paid for. Some customers complain that they don’t. Experience days are not cheap, so make sure you get your money's worth!
- Like your sports cars loud? Ask if the organisers have fixed silencers to their vehicles; these can severely quieten what should be growling, rumbling, spitting engines. Silencers can also reduce the visual impact of these beautiful cars.
- Like cornering? Some experience day firms install dual-braking systems to preserve their (admittedly expensive) cars' tyres. If you want to drive into a bend at speed, then ask if you can have a car without such devices – since they can make your experience rather less enjoyable.
- Do you need that collision damage waiver? Some experience day providers encourage their customers to take out additional cover so that their liability for any collision damage is reduced or eliminated. If the circuit allows you to accelerate quickly and take corners at speed, then this might be a prudent choice. However, if, for instance, the 'circuit' is really a runway with a kink in it, the waiver fee may not seem so necessary.
- Consider additional laps. Many customers report that they are only just getting the hang of their chosen car by the time their laps are complete. An extra two-to-four laps can really help ensure you leave with a big smile on your face.
- Prepare for paddle-shift gears. Most supercars now feature paddle-shift gear operation, so it's a good idea to source a few YouTube videos and blogs on the subject.
- You get what you pay for. Driving day fees can vary a great deal. The more you pay, the better your experience is likely to be. Equally, if you've paid a relatively low amount, you should expect a more 'no frills' or 'budget' experience.
- Book with weather in mind. Wet weather can dampen your enjoyment of a driving day, so consider booking a date a few days in advance that has a dry weather forecast. If this isn't possible due to low short-notice availability, or the need to book on specific dates, try a late spring or summer booking.