I did a Volkswagen advanced driving course today. Got to drive a Golf GTI the whole day. What fun. Man, that car can accelerate! Defensive Driving course & Skid pan.

The morning consisted of driver evaluation and tips etc, driving in traffic along various routes. The instructor reckons I’m a good defensive driver, so I’m quite happy.

The skid pan in the afternoon was loads of fun. For some reason, every time we did something, I was first :P. Very nerve wracking initially, particularly with 2 passengers in the car, but I soon got used to it, and the initial adrenalin rush faded into dim memory.

It was loads of fun, especially doing fast pull offs, wheel spinning when changing in to second gear, and then suddenly slamming on brakes to skid. It was also interesting when later on, you’re driving sedately, take a turn, and the instructor pulls up the hand brake. Whoop! 180 degree turn. 😉 The Golf GTI’s are front wheel drive, so that was the only practical way of simulating oversteer.

Understeer was caused by turning a bend at a sedate pace, and then tramping on the accelerator.

It’s amazing how well the car safety systems avert all those situations. We got to do the full skid and turn thing with ABS on. It’s very loud, and the brake pedal vibration feels really funky while it’s working, but you retain full control of the vehicle through the turn. Brilliant stuff.

The GTI’s (not sure what other models) have an additional system called ESP which means Electronic Stabilization Program – this essentially prevents understeer, amongst other things, by limiting engine power when it detects the wheels losing traction due to too much power, so you essentially retain control of the car during a potential skid situation.

Driving my 1.6 Polo after the course was a real let down 🙁

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