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Taking the Porsche for a ride

When Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen was making plans for the company's U.S. headquarters, he wanted it to turn heads and make a statement.

He can relax.

The luxury automaker's new $100 million North America headquarters, which opened just outside of Atlanta on Thursday, is a heaven for Porsche fans.

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Built almost adjacent to the city's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the 26-acre complex includes a luxurious new building complete with a classic car museum.

But the real attraction is just behind the building, where a mile-and-half test track lets drivers put a Porsche—even their own, if they want—through a series of high-speed maneuvers.

"This is a perfect way to attract new customers here," von Platen said.

With tires screeching behind him as a test driver practiced drifting in a Porsche 911 GT3, von Platen smiled and said, "You can compare different cars, you can compare different technologies but you have fun. Look at this guy here, he hasn't stopped yet."

There's also an off-road course designed to show how capable the Cayenne SUV is during extreme conditions.

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One-day driving experience classes start at $300. Porsche will even customize a driving course for those who are looking for something different or unique.

"We wanted to inspire our employees to bring them in direct contact with our products, brands, feel, to drive, to listen to these cars," von Platen said.

He estimates 30,000 drivers will visit the facility each year.

Porsche's sales are up 17.2 percent year to date in the U.S. It's outpacing fellow German luxury makersAudi, whose sales are up 11.9 percent; Mercedes-Benz, up 9.6 percent; and BMW, up 8.1 percent, according to Autodata.

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