The company has discontinued the Audi Advanced Driving Experience and the Audi Sport Driving Experience courses, replacing them with a new Audi Dynamic Driving Experience course which, at a cost of $1250, is basically a combination of the two.
Under the changes, entry-level participants now have exclusive access to Audi Sport models, including the 320kW/900Nm SQ7 SUV, 294kW/480Nm RS3 sedan and Sportback hatch, 331kW/600Nm RS5 coupe and 294kW/465Nm TT RS coupe.
The current-generation RS6 Avant Performance wagon and its 445kW/750Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 are also available this year but for the last time as production winds down ahead of an all-new model.
In an action-packed day limited to 32 participants, activities include high-speed ABS emergency braking, a steering slalom, slide control and oversteer practice, cornering theory and practice, a motorkhana competition, unrestricted track lapping and hot laps.
An $800 Audi Women’s Driving Experience is a similar course that loses the hot laps but adds lunch with an Audi Australia ambassador; all in the space of three-quarters of a day.
The one-day Audi Sport Pro Driving Experience costs $3500 and gives 12 participants exclusive access to the Audi Sport flagship, the 449kW/560Nm R8 V10 Plus coupe, without any prerequisites.
Activities include a full circuit walk and track analysis, warm-up training, one-on-one personal coaching, full Grand Prix track lapping and lapping debrief and analysis.
Stepping up to the $6800 Audi Race Driving Experience, three participants that have already completed the Audi Sport Pro Driving Experience spend a full day with the R8 LMS race car, although exact details are yet to be locked in for 2019.
The first three courses take place on a rotational basis at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and Sandown Raceway in Victoria, Sydney Motorsport Park in NSW, The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia, Mount Cotton Driving Centre in Queensland and Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia.
All courses are led by Audi Australia chief driving instructor Steve Pizzati, who is supported by a large team of professional racing drivers.
Speaking to GoAuto last month at the Audi Driving Experience 2019 national media launch at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary said the courses are also available to non-Audi owners.
“There’s two (types of) people that are drawn to it,” he said.
“Customers who have some of these very cars or just lovers of the brand because they’ve owned a series – they might not have necessarily been Audi Sport cars – and it just gives them a chance to immerse themselves in the best environment you possibly can from a performance-car point of view.
“And then there’s the prospects. It’s a great opportunity to test drive something that they are really considering,” he said.
Mr Cleary added that Audi Australia “regularly” converts these prospects into owners as a direct result of the Audi Driving Experience, with 250 sales achieved as of six months ago.
International courses continue to be available, with the $7250 Audi R8 Spyder European Tour new for 2019 and already proving to be very popular, according to Mr Cleary.
To be held in mid-June, the five-day course, as its name suggests, makes exclusive use of the R8 Spyder convertible in facelifted, 456kW/580Nm Performance form, with two participants allocated to each vehicle. In total, 12 have booked in so far, including five couples.
Day one is spent completing training the Audi Sport headquarters in Neuberg, Germany, while the next four days see participants attack the best German driving roads, as well as those in Austria and Italy.
The Audi Ice Driving Experience in Seefeld, Austria, which includes a factory tour and a museum visit, and the Audi Ice Pro Driving Experience in Lapland, Sweden, will return in 2019, but pricing and exact details have not been confirmed yet. Both courses are overwhelmingly attended by singles.
All three international courses exclude flights but include meals and accommodation.
Mr Cleary said the Audi R8 Spyder European Tour, which takes place in the northern summer, has been available for about a month and “is already selling really well and, as you would expect, we would certainly be increasing capacity there”.
“It’s a new exercise for us,” he said. “It’s something we built together with Germany, in terms of a package and an experience.
“Clearly the demand’s there, so we’ll be taking a closer look at that and see where maybe we can extend it or add something a little bit different as part of it.”
By Justin Hilliard