YONGIN, Gyeonggi Province -- For many, driving is fun and a way to relieve stress. But that’s only the case when you are not on the jam-packed downtown roads.
Although automakers boast about acceleration and maximum torque, drivers don’t get a chance to fully experience the car’s capacity, not to mention drifting through curves and feeling the full potential of the engine.
At Mercedes-Benz’s AMG Driving Academy, however, all are possible.
One can hop on a range of Mercedes-AMG high-performance vehicles such as AMG GT S, AMG S 63 4MATIC+, AMG E 63 4MATIC+ and AMG C 63 S Coupe.
The Korea Herald took part in the academy’s program on July 22.
The program first began at its German headquarters to offer systematic and professional driving techniques and training program for drivers at different levels. It runs in 16 countries including South Korea.
Mercedes-Benz Korea launched the program here in November last year at Yongin Speedway, which has a 4 kilometer race circuit. The circuit is suitable for all types of racing except Formula 1.
Since the program’s launch here, a total of 360 participants have received their driving certificates, despite the program’s starting cost of 1 million won ($830) for a one-day program.
The AMG Performance, which is the beginners’ course, aims to give drivers full mastery of a Mercedes-AMG vehicle.
It includes several sessions for drivers to experience full acceleration and maximum braking power in a closed-off area.
It also involves car control exercises, in which drivers are put in a situation where they have to avoid obstacles by driving zigzag at high speed.
Another session allows a driver to control the car using the electric stability program (ESP), which enhances the vehicle’s stability on slippery roads.
The program finishes with a racetrack experience where drivers are asked to accelerate up to 230 kilometers per hour in a certain route. One can also ride together with a professional motorsports player to experience AMG race taxi.
Mercedes-Benz’ AMG Driving Academy’s programs are useful for two reasons. One can learn how to control a car in critical road situations.
Driving on wet or icy roads is quite common in Korea, but many drivers do not know how to control the car in such situations except by slowing down.
You can learn how to drive a car in such situations by using the ESP mode, which uses computerized technology to improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction or skidding.
ESP is considered one of the most advanced technologies developed for automotive safety. Market research has shown that having ESP fitted can reduce the chance of a fatal crash by up to 25 percent. The European Union made ESP mandatory in new vehicles in 2014.
“ESP can be a life-saving technology but many do not know how to effectively use it in inclement weather. When asked, many drivers said they in fact turned the ESP off because they do not know what it is,” said one instructor, who also demonstrated how to handle a car even when the ESP is turned off.
Other than learning useful driving techniques, the AMG Driving Academy simply offers the joy of driving that one has not previously experienced.
Driving on the racetrack and at a speed which was only allowed for professional racers was an unforgettable, cathartic experience.
Besides the AMG Performance, there are three other programs: half-day AMG for Ladies, two-day AMG Advanced and the most expensive AMG Private. The latter two cost 2 million won and 3 million won per person, respectively.
Mercedes-Benz Korea said 10 percent of the program fees were donated to programs raising awareness on children transportation safety.
By Kim Da-sol (email@example.com