Safety campaigners are calling for the ‘drift mode’ on the Ford Focus RS to be disabled and for cars to be recalled in Australia.
Road safety expert Harold Scuby was “absolutely stunned” drift mode was even approved. “A disclaimer is not going to stop an idiot from trying this on public roads,” he said. “We urge Ford to reconsider its decision, recall these vehicles and disable the driving mode.”
Ford responded to the comments: “Drift mode is targeted for track use only – a disclaimer appears on [the instrument] cluster when switching modes.”
“We believe the drift and track modes are appropriate for racetracks and that typical Focus RS customers will understand the need to deploy these features under controlled and safe conditions such as during a track day,” it added.
Former Australian Medical Association Professor Brian Owler argued its customers may not get the message: “[Ford] is obviously marketing the car to young people who are interested in that type of driving. The problem is most people don’t have access to a race track. With a race track it’s inherently dangerous.”
Ford was also asked why it disabled the ‘line lock’ burnout feature on the Ford Mustang, according to the News.com.au report, but not the drift mode on the Focus RS. “We do not offer line lock because burnouts are illegal in Australia.”
Senior policy manager at the National Roads and Motorists’ Association, Jack Haley, pointed out drifting is as big a no-no. “Any sustained loss of traction on public roads is illegal,” he explained.
Australia may have seemingly been taken over by the fun police, but there is reason for the concern. There was a 9.8 per cent increase in fatalities in the 12 months up to May 2016, taking the total to 1,275. Meanwhile road deaths have increased by 14.6 per cent in 2016 to date, up to 551 fatalities.
Drift mode helps get the rear wheels spinning so the car’s back end slides out but in a more controlled fashion, making it easier for a newbie to drift like the professionals. There is, however, still a chance of losing control and ending up facing sideways or backwards.
Drifting was popularised by The Fast and Furious movies and, more recently, Ken Block and his Hoonigan YouTube videos. Drift mode is a standard fixture on the Focus RS, which costs from £31,000.
Was Ford irresponsible to give a car a mode that encourages drifting or should owners use a bit of common sense and keep the sideways action off public roads? Let us know.