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Automobiles Peugeot and its official local distributor Nasim recently rolled out the brand’s first-ever defensive driving programme in Malaysia. Dubbed Peugeot Driving Performance (PDP), the event was the first of its kind for the French carmaker – not just in Malaysia, but globally as well.

Held at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), it was open to Peugeot owners in Malaysia. Sixty participants took up the available slots – all within 10 days of its initial announcement.

“By creating a controlled environment, we are helping Peugeot owners unlock the full potential of their vehicles. They will be able to push their cars to the limit while experiencing the safety features of the car,” said Nasim CEO Dato Samson Anand George of the event.

The debut programme focussed on defensive driving techniques, as well as safe driving habits. The initial theory session of the event was handled by none other than our own Harvinder Singh, covering both preventive and reactive safety tips – the former to avoid accidents in the first place, the latter in case of emergencies.

Often overlooked by drivers, sitting the right way – backrest in an upright position and close enough to the steering wheel without having to stretch your arms – is absolutely vital to car control. An ideal driving position allows you to be more aware of your surroundings, and more ready to react if necessary.

Then, it was on to driving. A pair of Peugeot 408 Turbo sedans were provided for the understeer and oversteer course. An extremely slippery surface helped induce lurid understeer or oversteer, and the participants experimented on the do’s and don’ts of each situation.

To allow the drivers to properly experience such driving instances, one 408 had its electronic stability programme (ESP) completely disabled (involving a few pulled fuses). Just turning the ESP switch off isn’t enough, of course, as modern Peugeots are pre-programmed to re-activate the safety net if required.

The participants were then allowed a go in the other 408 (with its ESP intact), and witnessed first hand how the system reigns in mild dynamic instabilities to minimise out-of-control situations. Prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes.

Next up, a detailed slalom course. Here, the small and agile Peugeot 208 1.6 VTi was the subject of a tight and twisty trail. The objective was to highlight the importance of driving smoothly, as opposed to resorting to fast but erratic steering or throttle/braking inputs.

Smoother actions allow drivers to carry more speed through corners, without the onset of early understeer. The smoother the drivers were, the faster they’d go, while being in more control the entire time. Meanwhile, the 208’s small steering wheel made rapid direction changes easier to manage.

The final exercise was to navigate through an obstacle avoidance course. Simulating an emergency brake-and-avoid situation, participants were instructed to stomp hard on the brake pedal whilst negotiating a quick lane-change manoeuvre, relying on the Peugeot 508’s ABS and ESP safety systems to pull through – without which, the car would have ploughed on straight.

The Peugeot Driving Performance programme was overseen by a team of experienced professional driving instructors. For Peugeot owners who missed out, it is likely that Nasim will organise more rounds of PDP in 2015, so stay tuned.