Focus RS Drift Mode unlocks terrible decisions
The Ford Focus RS looks like hell of a fun machine. There’s 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque on tap from the 2.3-liter turbocharged four banger under the hood. There’s also a trick four-wheel-drive system that enables you to put the car into a Drift Mode. From what I’ve read online, it seems quite easy to use.
From what I’ve seen online, however, it’s clear that perhaps Drift Mode is a setting best left unused by some. The latest item admitted to the growing library of Drift Mode fail videos comes courtesy of a NY-based ST Owner’s Club. One member of the group brought his new RS out to party with the Focus family, and he showed off his new ride by smacking it into a cliff wall and nearly flipping it.
Boy howdy, those Gymkhana videos are harder to make than you probably thought… but these fail videos are easy to make.
Thanks for the tip, Nathan!

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  1. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    I went to college in the town right by where this was filmed (SUNY New Paltz), so I’ve driven that turn probably close to fifty times. It’s a brutal corner, steeper and sharper than can ever be relayed via picture/video. Saw a Corvette crash there once, and seen a number of close calls. The surrounding mountains and valleys make for a beautiful scenic area so as you can imagine most people are going very slowly, but it’s an easy spot for an enthusiast to have his/her share of fun.
    It seems from the video (& from what I’ve gathered from the comment sections on other sites) that the ST owners stopped in the pull-off to let the RS owner attempt to use Drift Mode. Bad call all-around: a public open road is *not* the place to try this out, especially in a corner that’s so tight and technical. Hate seeing videos like this, but hoping that it serves as a lesson for those who are considering doing something that can jeopardize the safety of others out on the roads. Also, actions like this can give car clubs a bad name, so hoping in stopping people from acting like this it can limit the criticism in the future.
    Here’s a picture I took of the same turn when I wrote a piece about that road a ways back (the cones aren’t usually there; not sure why they were at the time):
    & the piece about the road (my favorite in the Hudson Valley):

    1. JayP Avatar

      I used to be pretty deep with the local German fanboys of a particular marque. They’d coordinate drives and end up with a dozen or so cars. I’d debated going on the drives until my son was a little older. After one drive no one was talking – not a peep.
      Turned out someone got a little fast and was caught up in an accordion. Went left into a ditch and I think totalled the car.
      The group got together for a photo shoot and between changing locations and most of them were going 100+ thru traffic. I didn’t want any part of that stuff.

      1. Ross Ballot Avatar
        Ross Ballot

        Big ‘ol bag of NOPE on that one. Spirited drives can be fun under the right circumstances, but driving irresponsibly is a no-go from the get-go.

      2. Alff Avatar

        Those Wartburg guys give car clubs a bad name.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    How long before insurance companies come up with a policy rider especially for people trying to insure their Focus RS that dictates a rate much higher unless the owner has the dealership disable Drift Mode. Such a policy would probably also dictate that in the event of an at-fault accident, the insurance company reserves the right to access the car’s computer and any recording capabilities it has. If Drift Mode is found to be enabled, the claim is either denied or they’re on the hook for the difference in their policy premium dating back to the beginning of the policy.
    I’m all about freedom to be dumb, but not consequence-free stupidity. I don’t want my insurance rates for my aging diesel sedan and minivan to be jacked up because some dim bulb thinks his RS magically transforms him into Ken Block.

  3. jeepjeff Avatar

    Ford used to include drift-mode stock on all trim levels.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      My ’85 Mustang had it for sure.

      1. 1slowvw Avatar

        My ranger has it, although it’s kind of sporadic as to when it turns on. Primarily it seems to kick in when I’m in an empty parking lot with a few inches of snow.

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Wet Weather Drift Squad?

  4. Sjalabais Avatar

    I never get tired of reminders of how much force there is even in a relatively slow mishap like that. The car gets thrown up against the wall like a toy. I agree with others that this is not a public road mode of driving, yet the advent of cameras everywhere might actually help to move more people to tracks and training.

    1. Monkey10is Avatar

      …and of course the forces involved in some hero taking this 1500kg car through a corner at 40 are more than when Hannu Mikkola would take his sub-900kg mk1 Escort through the same corner at 60.
      Modern levels of grip are better right until the point where you run out of grip.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Hence the safety features of my Corvair: swing axles and rear weight bias combine to make sure you fly off the road long before you reach high speeds!

        1. Monkey10is Avatar

          …so you are saying that it is only “unsafe at LOW TO MEDIUM SPEEDS”?

          1. Vairship Avatar

            Don’t forget “…and when standing still”.

  5. crank_case Avatar

    This reminds me of the Mustang/RWD post and I’m split on the “irresponsibility” of this. Had this video shown him get it right, everyone would be shouting “hero!” ..and let him who has not provoked the tail out of on a tight hairpin cast the first stone and all that. I’m not saying such things are entirely defensible and should one engage in such behaviour “big boys rules” apply, but rarely worthy of the moral panic they generate.
    Thing is, usually a bit of power oversteer is fairly predictable RWD car with no electronic aids, and it would not want to be your first time either, it’s something you’d build up to, starting out with learning to to donuts, then maybe a getting a bit enthusiastic on turn in and throttle on a wet roundabout, holding a little slide before something a bit more daft.
    As always, the line between a safe opportunity and being totally dumb is hard to define in text and requires common sense.
    The issue I see with something like “Drift mode” versus a “dab of oppo” in an LSD equipped Miata or even a Nissan S-Body is predictability and speed. You don’t need to be going all that quick to get sideways and when you do it is all mechanical, all analogue, the response is linear to your inputs. Something that employs electronic trickery, while it may do a good job of letting you do a high speed drift on track and making you look like you have more talent than you do, the way it behaves may not always be predictable. It’s a similar deal with other trick 4WD cars I reckon, to get the most out of them, even driving “grip”, is probably not as intuitive, you probably almost need to allow for the system to make its move before applying further input.
    From my perspective, I reckon the driver initiated the drift too late in the turn, it would have probably worked had he turned in closer to the inside of the turn but then he would have been on the opposite side going in blind. Still illegal but taking a corner in a direction that puts you on the inside, waiting til you can see a clear line of sight on the exit and booting the tail that way would possibly the safest approach…hypothetically speaking of course.
    It’s hard to explain the right side of this very fuzzy line in text, I think some experience of a car beyond the limits of grip is a useful thing, but trying to explain the difference between what might be sensible experimentation and stupidity tends to just get misinterpreted either way with much waggy finger moralizing.
    I am not an initial D wannabe by the way, the novelty of sideways wears quickly, even on track I find I enjoy driving the car smoothly and gradually increasing speed, not over driving the car, but it is good for the zone beyond the limits of adhesion not to be entirely unfamiliar territory.

  6. neight428 Avatar

    My limited exposure to group drives (and rides for motorcycles) confirms a lot of what you guys are describing. There will usually be someone that enjoys the group dynamic principally to be able to show off and/or goad others into driving/riding above their limits. I personally don’t need another reason to avoid a group of people, but “hey, people who like cars too, we should all get together and drive our cool cars” sounds like a way better idea than it actually is.
    See also “why cars and coffee keeps getting cancelled” or “why car show regulars are really more like stamp collectors”

  7. Gee Nick Avatar
    Gee Nick

    Still understeers.

  8. jeepjeff Avatar

    Ford was out testing the Rs and tuning drift-mode on the skid pad at Utah Motorsports Park today.
    In other news, I’m at Utah Motorsports Park today.