Some courses even include basic fuel efficiency training.
Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG
– Mar. 13, 2009
An Audi A4 at play on the ice. Owners of the four rings receive more than just an excellent car; they gain an “Experience”.
Ingolstadt, Germany -- For almost thirty years, Audi has organized driver training courses for customers who want to learn how to control the performance of a modern day sports car safely.
Over 20,000 participants, 800 events in 30 countries, 12 international racetracks and 300,000 miles driven are just a few of the key figures of the 2008 Audi “Driving Experience.”
To date, more than 250,000 drivers have improved their skills with an Audi driving experience. At the 220 winter events held this past season, 15 professional instructors coached some 4,800 participants on ice and snow in what can be called largest international organizer of winter driver training.
The Audi “Driving Experience” had its beginnings in 1980 when former race car driver, Count Freddy Kottulinsky organized training for technical staff to help them avoid accidents during test runs.
These training sessions were so successful that the Audi Board of Management decided in 1981 to offer them to other employees, dealers and customers. The driver and safety training program, known as the Audi “Driving Experience”.
Audi driving experience has a varied program, from classic summer and winter training through racetrack training, individual training, efficiency training and even adventure tours. As interest continues to grow, Audi will be extending the program still further.
At a glance – The ProgramBasic training
Audi ice experience (winter program only)
- Basic training for wheelchair users
- Basic Plus training
- Basic and drift training (winter program only)
- Drift training (winter program only)
- Intensive training
- Audi A8 premium (winter program only)
- Executive driver training
- Executive Pro driver training (summer program only)
- Efficiency training (summer program only)
Audi Sports car experience (summer program only)
- Sweden experience
- Finland experience
- Finland Pro experience
- Finland Pro Exclusive experience
Audi tour experience
- Racetrack experience
- Racetrack Pro experience
Audi individual experience
- Audi Q7 Scandinavian Tour
- Audi Q7 Amber Tour
- Audi R8 Alpine Tour
The core of the Audi driving experience
- Events for groups and individual training available on request
The cones are still standing neatly where they are supposed to be. At more than 50 mph, the Audi A8 4.2 TDI quattro plunges into this narrow lane, with red-and-white striped cones marking its end. Shortly before reaching this point the driver rams the brake pedal down at full force – just as the instructor called for. The upper body and arms must remain relaxed, since only with full control of the steering will the driver be able to turn into the lane that leads out to the left.
With a smoothly executed maneuver – left, right and left again – the A8 avoids the obstacle and comes to a halt after a further three meters. There’s a big grin on the driver’s face. He didn’t master this maneuver first time through: he hit the brake pedal too hesitantly and jerked the steering wheel too violently. This time the instructor gives him a friendly clap on the shoulder and says a few words of praise through the open driver’s window – without forgetting to explain what he could do even better on the next run.
At the other end of the cordoned-off, water-covered track, the other half of this group of 20 drivers is ‘going round in circles’! This is the scenario: if a car enters a corner too fast, it will try to run wide, because the speed, steering angle and curve radius can’t be harmonized. ESP is switched off to improve the learning effect.
At first the drivers find it difficult to stay on the circular track: the cones they hit fly off in all directions. But after each attempt and each discussion with the instructor they keep the A8 4.2 Quattro on the desired course more accurately. The secret is to ease back the accelerator pedal and reduce the steering angle. Then the A8 obligingly returns to the safe curve radius and all is well.
Many participants’ instincts prevent them from turning the steering wheel back in what seems to be the wrong direction. But practicing proves to them that what they learned in theory that morning is correct. Reducing the steering angle allows the front tires to grip again instead of trying to skid outwards. Then the car responds to the steering again and doesn’t run wide and hit the cones that represent the edge of the road.
Even after this exercise, the participants still have a mixture of pride and amazement on their faces. Pride because they have mastered a potentially hazardous situation, and amazement because their initial fear of a skidding car has given way to a new level of confidence not only in what the car can do but also in what they are capable of themselves, based on knowledge and practice.
The Audi driving experience philosophy is that training should combine the fun of dynamic driving, the fascination of modern technology and the most important lessons to be learned when a panic situation arises. When the course has been completed, the driver has these new skills in reserve if a serious situation should arise.
“However good you are – we’ll make you better!”
The best motor sport drivers in the world confirm the importance of these training courses. Here’s what Emanuele Pirro, who has won the Le Mans 24 Hours five times at the wheel of an Audi, has to say: “However good you are, after Audi’s winter training you’ll return home a better driver!” Walter Röhrl, the ultimate rally icon with two world championship titles, comments: “Driver training makes sense for everyone. At the Audi courses in Scandinavia, participants can train in conditions similar to motor sport, with expert instructors on hand to improve their skills.”
The current program
There are various grades of difficulty geared to the participant’s existing skills. Compact basic training is perfect for first-time participants, and this is followed by Basic Plus training as a second stage. Intensive training is an alternative – these groups are smaller and the speeds higher. There is also basic training in suitably adapted current Audi models for drivers confined to a wheelchair. Another course aimed at a specific group is for company executives.
The ‘Audi Sports car experience’ program, held only in summer, caters for particularly sporty and dynamic tastes. These racetrack training programs take place at venues such as Barcelona, the Nürburgring, the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, the Salzburgring and in Spa, Belgium while driving the Audi R8 high- performance sports car.
Another Audi driving experience specialty is the range of training programs from the Audi individual experience. These are held in summer and in winter, on racetracks and frozen lakes. The ‘Audi ice experience’ is specifically a winter course. Drifting is practiced on frozen lakes in Sweden and Finland, at three different levels of difficulty. The highest level, the Finland Pro Exclusive experience, is aimed at genuinely capable drivers with motor sport experience. It has a strongly competitive character and calls for the participant to be a very skilled driver.
Efficiency training is a topical suggestion, with theoretical and practical instruction on how to drive Audi’s highly efficient cars even more economically. In future Audi will offer efficiency training through its dealer organization, so that for instance local car fleet managers can be approached. Efficiency will also be mentioned in future as an information topic at all events.