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Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP).

Your electronic guardian angel

ESP puts your safety first in all critical situations by automatically applying the brakes at individual wheels to keep the vehicle heading in the right direction. Whether you are faced with debris on the road or some other unforeseen event – when you are forced to make an evasive manoeuvre, ESP helps you to retain better control and stay on track.

The Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) builds on other electronic systems such as the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) or the Traction Control System (ASR). The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) has already proved its effectiveness in many vehicles. The ESP takes driving safety a stage further. While ABS acts on the vehicle in a longitudinal direction, ESP serves to control its lateral dynamics. To do so, there are two critical situations ESP has to deal with:


Oversteer: the rear wheels lose contact with the road surface and the vehicle rotates slightly about its vertical axis, turning it towards the inside of the bend.

the front wheels lose contact with the road surface and the vehicle rotates slightly about its vertical axis, turning it towards the outside of the bend.

Using a targeted application of the brakes, ESP acts to correct driving errors that may lead to oversteer or understeer. If the vehicle is about to rotate towards the inside of the bend, ESP brakes the front outside wheel before the rear has the chance to slide towards the outside of the bend. Conversely, ESP brakes the inside wheel if the car is threatening to understeer, and rotates the car back to a neutral heading.

These braking interventions are performed almost instantly and last only a fraction of a second. The brain controlling the interventions is the system computer. It receives information from a yaw rate sensor on whether and how the vehicle is rotating about its vertical axis (“yaw” is the engineering term for rotation about a vertical axis). Other sensors also supply important data to the computer: a steering angle sensor, a lateral acceleration sensor and four wheel sensors. Using the data from these sensors, the system computer detects any differences between the “target” values and “actual” values, and acts as an electronic guardian angel, controlling the necessary braking interventions.

Nevertheless, ESP does not take over from the driver at the wheel. In the case of the Golf with its very safe suspension, it is possible to allow the axle to slip more before the ESP intervenes – more than on any other vehicle with rear-wheel drive. When desired, the Golf driver can deactivate ESP at the press of a button for uphill stretches and driving on loose road surfaces.