Learning to drive with Volkswagen
Perfecting performance driving at Volkswagen’s advanced driving academy
Volkswagen’s Advanced Driving academy offers a full range of advanced driving courses designed to help ensure your personal safety on the road. The aim of these courses is to gain practical driving experience in a controlled environment, but also confidence to deal with potential dangers, from avoiding collisions, to the optimal way to respond in a hijack situation.
Course vehicles include the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Golf GTI, Golf R, T-Cross, Tiguan, Touareg and Amarok.
I attended the High Performance Driving Course, which is a full day course designed to hone driver skills behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s hot hatches, the Golf GTI and Golf R.
The course started with a thorough and well presented classroom session handling the theory behind high-performance driving.
This included highlighting the different kinds of skids, what causes them and the theory behind correcting the vehicle during these kinds of skids. Other important topics covered included the role of tyres, following distance and the correct seating position.
Learners are made to understand vehicle behaviour such as understeer and oversteer, how to avoid those actions and how to return the vehicle to a normal state if these actions occur.
Following the classroom session we set about putting the theory into practice on the skidpan, which is a slippery concrete surface covered with a layer of water. The skidpan exercises involved initiating a number of skid scenarios and then recovering from those situations. The skidpan session culminated in a timed test around a twisty, slippery course, which allowed participants to try out their newfound vehicle handling skills.
Once our skid control had been perfected it was time for a hearty lunch before a second shorter classroom session focussing on track driving techniques. This included throttle control, hand position and the most efficient way of going around corners.
Anyone can drive fast in a straight line, but not everyone can react quickly and safely around corners.
The track driving component included four sessions around the main Zwartkops Raceway circuit with a highly trained instructor focussing on all the aspects of driving technique required to get around corners as quickly, smoothly and efficiently as possible.
While not everyone aspires to be a racing driver these techniques go a long way in fostering confidence and a smooth driving style while also showing what these vehicles can really do.
I believe that a course like this is a great asset for any driver, new or experienced. I have been participating in performance driving events for close to 20 years and learn something new every time I do a course like this.
It was also encouraging to see that some of the fellow course attendees were parents along with their adolescent children who had recently acquired their drivers’ licences and for me this shows a real investment in their safety.
The normal K53 driving licence test has its limitations and it is only on courses like these that you really learn to drive.
The Volkswagen Driving Academy offers a number of different courses dealing with topics such as Performance driving, Safety driving, Amarok off-road driving, Hi-Jack prevention, Road Safety, Driver Assessment as well as various Team Building packages. The academy is based at Zwartkops Raceway outside Pretoria.
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