Take a look at your driving position right now. We can bet that a majority of you won’t even know what is wrong with your driving position. This is the main reason why driving courses are excellent refreshers for everyone, yours truly included.
So when the invitation came for the Volkswagen Driving Experience came, I knew I had to refresh my driving skills, as I admit I was getting a bit rusty. No, really.
This is Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM)’s introductory driving course aimed at owners of the Wolfsburg brand.
Before getting behind the wheel, the common mistake that I mentioned earlier covers seating position, seat height, seat belt, steering and even head rest position. Our driving instructors made it a point to highlight these common mistakes, so what participants won’t repeat them.
One part that I would like to highlight is the head rest position. Contarary to popular beliefs, the head rest is not for drivers to rest their heads on, rather as restraint that prevents rearward movement of front occupants in the event of a collision. The correct way to adjust the headrest is to line up the top of the headrest to the top of your head, not too high or too low.
Another common mistake that drivers do these days is adjusting their seats too low. Ideally, drivers should bring their seat up as high as possible, in order to get better forward visibility. Keeping a four finger gap between your head and the car's ceiling is recommended.
The driving course is split into three segments – Emergency Braking with ABS, Accident Avoidance with ABS and Reaction Lane Change. For those who have not attended any driving courses, the one offered by Volkswagen is a good opportunity to learn and correct your mistakes. For all the exercises, we started off at 50 km/h, gradually increasing to 60 km/h before maxing out at 70 km/h.
Emergency Braking with ABS, as the name suggests, required participants to stomp hard on the brake pedal, as gentle braking will not activate ABS. Without ABS, stomping hard on the brakes will cause the front tyres to lock up, thus making maneuvering near impossible. Fret not, as almost all new cars you can buy today are fitted with ABS, which brings us to the next segment, Accident Avoidance with ABS.
Here, participants had to stomp on the brakes while maneuvering away from an obstacle. In theory, it sounds easy enough, but in practice it was much harder as than it seems. Many partipicants misjudged the obstacle cone, clipping it as they avoided the cone.
Last but not least is the Reaction Lane Change. This exercise simulates an emergency situation that happens too sudden to react and braking is out of the question. The only way is to steer around the obstacle. Here, the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system of the Passat comes into play, keeping the large saloon's handling in check. However, ESC cannot defy the laws of physics. If the car's tires are worn or the driver is driving too quick, there's little that ESC can do to mitigate the situation.
As I mentioned earlier, Volkswagen’s offering is good for everyone, be it as a first timer or someone looking to refresh their driving skills. Of course, time will tell to as how much the company plans to charge for this driving course, as it is an invitation-only affair for the time being.