Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Ford Focus RS Drift Mode
By Scott Huntington
Chances are, if you're a gearhead, you were the type of kid who played video games like Burnout and Need for Speed. And obviously, the best part about those games was drifting your car around hairpin turns.
Now, with a dynamite car like the Ford Focus RS coming to America (sometime in spring 2016, that is), people like you should be excited. Why?
Well, besides the fact that it's just plain awesome—and we'll get to those details later—the RS will feature a "drift mode." So whether you're a seasoned track racer or a wannabe gymkhana expert, you'll feel like you're playing a real version of your video game.
Too Good To Be True?
Here's the short answer: Nope! This is a totally legit system.
According to Ford Performance chief engineer, Jamal Hameedi, it works together with the car’s stability control system:
"It knows how fast the car is yawing and what you’re doing to catch it. The more you stay ahead of the car, the more the system will let you rotate the car. But if the computer sees you falling behind, your steering inputs not keeping up with the yaw rate, then it steps in and rescues you," he told Car and Driver in March.
Ford also issued a statement in March that says the setting "allows controlled oversteer movements." What that means is this new system temporarily disables the regular stability control so you can override it and, more or less, feel like the god of driving.
The car's all-wheel-drive system makes it pretty easy to cause the RS to oversteer—it can filter up to 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels. Up to 100 percent can be sent to either side, which enables torque vectoring.
And here's the funny thing—when the car’s in drift mode, it won’t be as hard to control, according to Ford Performance boss Dave Pericak. “The limits we’re going to set give anyone enough room to have fun—there’s no need to turn it off," he says.
But take this into consideration: According to the automaker, drift mode is for “track use only."
Drifting Is Cool, But What Else Do I Get?
All this hype over the drift mode is great, but what are other reasons why the RS is a car to be excited about?
There's the AWD system mentioned above, and the RS also boasts a mighty 315 horsepower with its 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, and some sweet wheels. It's also claimed to have virtually no lift, thanks to the fully functional car’s front splitter, rear diffuser and rear spoiler.
The car isn't just meant for the track, either. It will include modern technology features that come in today's everyman cars, such as a moon roof, heating steering wheel and heated seats. You can also choose from four colors. One of them, Nitrous Blue, will be available exclusively for the RS and nowhere else.
Ford's release of the RS is a step forward in appealing to the younger generation of performance-oriented customers. While Americans still have to wait a year to drive it, one thing is certain: This car will be worth the wait.
Scott Huntington is a huge Ford fan, but writes about all kinds of cars on his blog, offthethrottle.com. Follow him at @SMHuntington.