2023.07.21 Kia

Kia Driving Experience: Intense sports driving with a high‒performance EV

HMG Driving Experience Center operates a systematic training program tailored to the driver’s ability. Among several training programs, the ‘Kia Level 2 Program’, which focuses on building sports driving techniques, was demonstrated by the EV6 GT, a thrilling high-performance electric vehicle with 585 horsepower.

The HMG Driving Experience Center in Taean, South Chungcheong Province, which opened last year, has quickly become a favorite spot for car enthusiasts. This top-notch facility in Korea is an experience center and complex automobile cultural space where you can experience cars more deeply. Of course, great facilities aren’t everything. The facilities alone would not have been enough for the HMG Driving Experience Center to attract such a large number of car enthusiasts.

On the first floor, is a showroom displaying Hyundai Motor Group’s signature models, and on the second floor is a cafe by Haevichi hotel

As is widely known, the real popularity of the HMG Driving Experience Center lies in the systematic driving education program tailored to the driving skills and tastes of the participants. The program is divided into ‘Driving Experience’, which builds driving skills, and ‘Driving Pleasure’, a specialized program focused on driving experience. The driving experience is subdivided into levels from Level 1, which helps basic safe driving, to Level 3, which polishes driving skills on dynamic tracks. In addition, programs for beginners in motor sports, such as Drift Levels 1 and 2 to improve drift control ability, N Advanced and N Masters to hone high-level track driving skills, were added to increase visitor satisfaction.

On the second floor, is a shop that sells brand goods such as Hyundai Motor Company, Kia, Genesis, and N Brand

The experience vehicles of Driving Experience vary according to each brand program such as Hyundai Motor Company, Kia, and Genesis. For example, the Hyundai Motor Company program provides the Avante(Elantra) N and Avante N lines, and the Genesis program provides the G70. The instructors in charge of training are also composed of top-notch talent with motor sports experience and expertise. In other words, the HMG Driving Experience Center is a place of education and experience supported by systematic training programs tailored to the level of the participants and the best resources in Korea.

I personally participated in the program to check the true value of this HMG Driving Experience Center. ‘Kia Driving Experience Level 2’ teaches the basics of sports driving and vehicle control tips, and provides the Kia EV6 GT with thrilling performance of 585 horsepower. Driving programs with high-performance electric vehicles are rare in the world, so I had such high expectations.

In order to participate in the Driving Experience Level 2 program for each brand, you must complete Driving Experience Level 1 for each brand of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis (check the HMG Driving Experience official website for other detailed qualifications). The Level 2 program takes a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes, including theory course and driving practice, and is held in various places such as the classroom, multi-purpose driving course, kick plate course, and dry road A course. Each course offers gate slalom & target braking, high-speed evasive braking, drag racing, kick plate, fox hunting, and circuit driving.

After the theoretical training, I started practicing the level 2 program driving the EV6 GT

Before practice, theoretical education was conducted in the classroom. As a course to safely learn useful driving skills, the order of programs, precautions for each course, correct driving posture, and characteristics of practice vehicles were checked under the guidance of the instructor in charge. After the theoretical training, the shutter door on the wall opened, revealing the EV6 GT for practice. The participants moved to the first location, the multi-purpose driving course.

In gate slalom & target braking practice, it is important to understand vehicle behavior characteristics and braking sensation

In the multi-purpose driving course, I practiced gate slalom & target braking and high-speed evasive braking. Slalom & target braking practice is aimed at checking the behavior characteristics of a vehicle in a corner and developing the ability to brake accurately at a desired point. It is a simple course that stops the car at the correct point after passing the left/right slalom section, but it was important to handle the car gently.

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After the start signal, I accelerated to 40 km/h and entered the slalom section. When I steered left/right to avoid the rubber cone, the speed slightly decreased, and I stepped on the accelerator pedal again to maintain 40km/h. At the same time, with my eyes on the direction I was heading, I swiftly turned the steering wheel and operated the accelerator/decelerator pedal. The EV6 GT’s low center of gravity really shined in these slalom sections. In a situation where the load was continuously moving left/right, the car passed between the rubber cones stably without being disturbed. Thanks to the E-GMP platform with the heavy battery mounted low on the body floor, it was light and stable.

The EV6 GT’s low center of gravity allowed me to pass the slalom course with confidence

After the slalom section, I entered the braking section where the front was blocked. I decelerated quickly so as not to collide with the last rubber cone, but the braking time was too early and the car stopped completely without entering the braking section. As such, the gate slalom & target braking course required sophisticated skills such as speed maintenance, steering, deceleration, and eye handling. This situation is similar to avoiding a sudden obstacle on the road; I thought that this would help develop the ability to cope with the risk of an unexpected accident.

Gate slalom & target braking practice develops the ability to cope with various unexpected situations on the road

After the gate slalom & target braking was the high-speed evasion braking. High-speed avoidance braking is avoiding an obstacle (rubber cone) while performing full braking after entering the braking section at a constant speed. It focused on understanding the brake characteristics and behavioral characteristics of vehicles in extreme situations. It is an important course to properly steer while using the tire grip and braking power of the brake system to the end.

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While thinking about the theory, I immediately went to practice. While driving at 60km/h according to the instruction, I turned the steering wheel to avoid the rubber cone in front of me with full braking at the break point. At this time, the vehicle attitude control system of the EV6 GT analyzed the torque and steering angle of the four wheels in real time to operate the ABS, and maintained the steering and braking power by utilizing the maximum static friction right before the wheels locked.

For reference, the EV6 GT’s brake system housed a high-performance 4-piston monoblock caliper and 380mm disc to cope with the performance of the powerful electrified powertrain. Of course, if a situation like this had happened on a regular road, an accident would have occurred. However, it was possible to build driving skills to deal with this through practice several times on a course where safety was secured.

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Drag race practice was conducted on the high-speed track. In the drag race, which starts at the signal and checks the driver’s agility and the vehicle’s maximum acceleration, it was a good opportunity to appreciate the EV6 GT, which has a maximum output of 585 horsepower and a maximum torque of 75.5 kgf m. This is because it is not easy to experience 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds similar to the performance of a typical supercar on the road.

I was able to experience the difference in acceleration that varies depending on the driving mode

A total of four experiments were conducted for each driving mode of the EV6 GT. The driving modes of the EV6 GT are divided into Eco, Normal, Sport, and GT, and each mode has a different ratio of vehicle efficiency/performance. For example, when accelerating in Eco mode, the car accelerated gradually to minimize the reduction in fuel economy, and in the most powerful GT mode, it accelerated explosively as soon as it started.

The most interesting exercise in the Level 2 program was the kick plate, which improves the driver’s agility and coping skills when oversteer occurs. A metal plate moving left/right on the road surface induced a slide at the rear of the vehicle, causing the vehicle to slide. At this time, the driver must use *counter steer swiftly so that the car does not spin. The start signal was given and the vehicle accelerated to 40-50 km/h to enter the kick plate section, and the car began to skid in one direction. As my car entered the water curtain slalom section, where the road was sprayed with water to further reduce grip, the rear of the vehicle moved even more vigorously. At this time, I turned the steering wheel briefly in the opposite direction only as much as needed to quickly get the body into position.

*Countersteer: turning the wheel in the opposite direction to keep the vehicle going in the right direction

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Accurate and sophisticated countersteer action was required in the kick plate

The kick plate practice was conducted four times, changing conditions such as driving speed and body posture control device On/Off. This taught me a few things - that the car can go into full spin if the countersteer action is slow or excessive, that higher driving speeds require more sophisticated countersteer action, and that when the stability control is off, the driver’s role is more important, etc. If the counter-steer action, which quickly recovers the body position, is skillfully performed, safer driving will be possible on rain and snowy roads with a low friction coefficient.

Fox hunting was the program’s most thrilling exercise; This is a race to compete with other participants. Fox hunting, literally, stimulates the competitive spirit by chasing other participants as if catching a fox. The key to this practice was to smoothly pass through acceleration and deceleration sections, slaloms, and corners in a random course composed of rubber cones.

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Keeping composure is important in fox hunting that stimulates competitive spirit

If you are too greedy in fox hunting, you may collide with a rubber cone or lose driving and catch up with your opponent. This practice was conducted three times while changing the driving mode of the EV6 GT, and when practicing in the sport mode at the end, it was possible to experience a dynamic driving experience in which the rear of the body wriggled due to the powerful output.

The last course was the dry road circuit A. The 2km-long dry road circuit A course is half of the entire circuit of the HMG Driving Experience Center, consisting of 4 right corners, 6 left corners and a 325m-long straight line. Here, participants practiced out-in-out corners and record line driving to record the fastest lap times so that participants could experience full-scale track driving. The driving proceeded by following the instructor’s vehicle, and as the instructor increased the driving pace, the participants could also feel the thrill of a real race. It made me look forward to the Level 3 program, which is one step deeper than this.

In the dry road circuit A course, I was able to use all the driving techniques I learned on the spot

Although all the steps in the Level 2 program were over, the excitement continued. This is because they have additionally applied for ‘High Speed Taxi’, one of the main programs of Driving Pleasure. Driving Pleasure consists of the following: - ‘Taxi Program’ where professional drivers drive vehicles together, ‘HMG Test Drive’ where Hyundai Motor Group’s major models are experienced on circuits and roads, ‘HMG Junior Driving Experience’ which offers automobile engineering classes and on/off-road driving tours for teenagers, and ‘HMG Scenic Drive’, which allows free drive around the Taean Peninsula with Hyundai Motor Group’s signature vehicles.

The instructor helped the occupants put on helmets, flame resistant face mask, and four-point seat belts to ensure safety

In addition to the high-speed taxis I experienced, the taxi program includes circuit taxis that ride on circuit driving, circuit race taxis, drift taxis that ride on drifting cars, and off-road taxis that ride on off-road cars. . High Speed Taxi took place on Korea’s top-notch high-speed main circuit. The feature of the high-speed main circuit is that the bank angle of the corner has been greatly increased so that it can be driven even if you take your hands off the speed of 200 km/h or more. The vehicles for the high-speed taxi experience are the Hyundai Avante N and EV6 GT, and they are equipped with bucket seats and 4-point seat belts, enabling safer use. Of course, the powertrain is the same as that of the regular model.

Prior to boarding the vehicle, the driving instructor helped the participant wear a helmet and flame resistant face mask for safety. Entering the high-speed main circuit, the EV6 GT quickly reached the vehicle’s top speed of 260 km/h and stably maintained over 200 km/h even in corners. The EV6 GT drove stably even in high-speed areas that are difficult to experience. This is the result of Hyundai Motor Group’s leading technology in motor system - motor and inverter - and electrification powertrain control technology. Considering that the top speed of other electric cars with similar maximum output stays between 220 and 250 km/h, the difference seemed clearer.

Those who complete the Level 2 program can participate in the Level 3 program, which develops full-fledged track driving skills

After completing all the experiences, the graduation ceremony was held. All courses in the Level 2 program ended when the instructor in charge of education delivered a certificate of completion to the participant who passed the program. The driving skills accumulated through the Level 2 program on this day would be useful both in everyday life and on the track. I was able to learn driving skills to respond to sudden crisis situations, and I also learned how to drive faster and more sophisticatedly on the track. In particular, it was more valuable because it was a high-performance electric vehicle driving program that was difficult to experience anywhere else in the world.

The HMG Driving Experience Center has established itself as Korea’s best experience center and complex automotive cultural space

The HMG Driving Experience Center reflects Hyundai Motor Group’s will to broaden the base of domestic automobile culture. It also provided an opportunity to have a deeper understanding of cars and driving, and to look back on everyday driving habits. It is not easy for car manufacturers to sell cars and at the same time guide them on how to use them safely and fun. HMG Driving Experience Center provides such education and experience. At the HMG Driving Experience Center this summer, everyone’s car life will become even richer, although the pleasure would be somewhat different.

By Inju Lee

Photography by Hye-jin Cho

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HMG Journal Operation Team


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