When Ford announced the new Focus RS, one of the 320bhp+ all-wheel drive super hatch’s most intriguing features was the ‘Drift Button’. The car is capable of shifting up to 70 per cent of power to the rear wheels, so we always expected that big smoky drifts might be possible; the fact the car was introduced with Ken Block sliding his way around the factory in which the car is being built merely proved that.
But it looks like even the most ham-fisted drivers amongst us should be able get sideways at the wheel of the Focus. Car and Driver sat down with a couple of Ford engineers, who explained exactly how the ‘Drift Button’ hopes to make Ken Blocks out of all of us.
“It works in conjunction with the ESC system,” explained [chief engineer Jamal] Hameedi. “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. We’d say it’s an excellent teaching tool to help develop your skills—it works with you, not against you.”
The electronic interference shouldn’t be too intrusive though, as Ford reckons it is merely a backup that comes in at the last minute to mop up if you’re about to get it very wrong. If you think you’re already a drift hero, you can turn everything off, but Ford would prefer if you didn’t - “If you’ve gone as far as we’re going to let you [go], then you probably shouldn’t be going any further.”
Read more over at Car and Driver.