In the understeer-oversteer spectrum an All-Wheel-Drive system usually lies in the middle. That is until the blue oval guys put in a “Drift Mode” button in the Focus RS, enabling the new AWD 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque to toast the rear tires almost exclusively. Now that’s all everyone can talk about when the new RS is mentioned. But did you know that “Drift Mode” was an accident when they developed the vehicle?
Engineering manager for Ford Performance, Tyrone Johnson, informed Motoring that what we now know as “Drift Mode” was discovered during testing of the RS’ twin-clutch AWD system. There was no plan for it until one of the engineers decided to try something out. Johnson stated:
It wasn’t like that it was more like one of my guys sitting in the car – the lead dynamics guys sitting in the car – and next to him is the guy who is doing the calibration of the all-wheel drive system with a lap-top on his knees.
And they are talking and he says ‘oh let me try this out’ and he tries it and he says ‘oh that’s cool can you give me more of that’ and he gives him more and he says ‘that’s really cool’ and then it starts working.
I guess it’s just because we are a bunch of crazy guys. We just do things
A product change, like adding an entirely different driving mode, was not going to go through without the approval of Raj Nair, Global Technical and Development Chief. Proving that even the executives are automotive enthusiasts, he not only approved the delightful change but also made it a marquee feature. Johnson continues:
We put it together and we showed it to Raj and we said ‘this is a nice little trick we can also do with this … with the mode system and the specific set-up for drifting capability’.
And it was actually Raj who said we have got to market this, this is a cool feature. We need to make this a prominent part of the program, as opposed to a side note.
While Australia is trying to ban this mode outright, citing “Anti-Hooning” laws, we Americans welcome the arrival of the Focus RS and its Drift Mode with wide open arms. Now if we can only get our hands on one…