The problem with modern cars is that despite being equipped with safety features that resemble alphabet soup, some drivers don’t have a clue on how the Anti-Lock Brakes and vehicle stability systems work, and how to use them during emergency cases. Hence, Peugeot Malaysia’s intention was to educate their customers via the inaugural Peugeot Driving Performance program held recently. Yours truly was among the pioneer group, consisting of representatives of the media to attend the first and only Peugeot’s defensive driving program in the world.
The half day event at the MAEPS, Serdang, gathered 20 participants to undergo this level-one defensive driving program. The program consisted of three essential defensive driving techniques – obstacle avoidance with braking, understeer and oversteer control, and slalom driving.
Before we got to hit the tarmac in any of the three Peugeots, the instructor gave us a demonstration on the correct method of seating and steering-wheel holding – such as the correct position to place the hands on the steering, the ideal seating height and position and the “cross-steering” technique that used in advanced driving. Actually, you can view our previous PSA done by Chris here.
Once completed, we headed to the following course – the obstacle avoidance with braking session, where Peugeot 508’s braking and active safety prowess will put into test. Cones were arranged to simulate an obstacle where drivers will need to perform an emergency braking move and avoid that obstacle by diving into the next lane. Participants discovered the need to engage the car’s Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) to avoid hitting the cones. Needless to say, there weren’t many damaged cones by the end of that training, a testimony of Peugeot 508’s exceptional engineering and active safety features that could save lives.
Next, we moved to the understeer and oversteer control, where participants learned the art of controlling such situations via the Peugeot 408T. Participants were instructed to drive fast into the braking point and perform a hard left turn after passing it. There were huge patches of oil placed at the surface of the braking point, causing cars to lose grip which was useful to demonstrate understeer and oversteer situations.
The instructor rode shotgun with each participant and two units of 408 were used, first in a blue 408 where the ESP was taken out. Needless to say, without the ESP, the car understeered widely and oversteered hard as the brake forces were not correctly applied to the front wheels. Then, we switched to another white 408, this time with ESP enabled, which fortunately comes as standard in all 408 variants sold in Malaysia. With the ESP, the car did not go wide, which means understeer is significantly reduced when the car corners with less gripping surfaces. During oversteer, ESP does help by adding the right braking pressure to the wheels, straightening and stabilizing the vehicle depending on the degree of the corner.
Finally, we headed to the last section, the slalom, where participants drove the small and nimble 208 in a mini course, comprising tight and twisty curves, followed by the slalom course; not forgetting avoiding the cones as well. It demands precision and quick reflexes, hence a correct steering position is essential to master this course. That brings to the “cross-steering” technique, in which to be honest, requires tons of practice in order to pass that course without locking your arms. Slow and steady is the key to master the “cross-steering” technique. After all, this training is not meant to turn participants to become Sebastian Loeb in a day.
At the end of this training, all participants were awarded a certificate of completion and they are eligible to participate in level-two of the Peugeot Driving Performance, which is in the pipeline. Over the weekend, there were 60 Peugeot owners who participated in this training and from what we were told, the seats were snapped in an instant despite the minimal publicity. Defensive driving courses like this usually don’t come cheap, but Peugeot charged their customers an affordable RM100, which is at the price of a full tank of RON95 on the 208. Besides, cars, fuel and tyres were provided, not forgetting food and beverages awaits participants too. It is a stellar move by Nasim Sdn Bhd to organize such events, hoping other marques will emulate the same to their customers as well.
While I, pictured receiving the certificate below, didn’t manage to obtain the driving skills of Ari Vatanen’s gobsmacking Pikes Peak stunt, at least I returned home with some useful defensive driving skills I hope it will be taught at our driving schools in the future. Having become among the first one on this planet to complete the Peugeot Driving Performance, that was quite a satisfying achievement. Now, bring on Peugeot Driving Performance level-two!