You catch my drift? Getting sideways in the Focus RS

It’s another stunning car review from David ‘Tunners’ Tunnicliffe. It’s a Ford Focus RS 2016 review this time. There’s even some drifting!

I’m not jealous that he got invited to make the trip to BrisVegas to test drive the new Focus RS and it’s much talked about ‘Drift Mode’… no, not at all……. much! Take it away DT.


You will have seen the headlines, read the articles, perhaps even voiced an opinion yourself. Even if you’re not really a car person the new Drift Mode on the Ford Focus RS will have no doubt featured somewhere on a news feed of yours over the past few weeks. I myself was interested to learn more, I was keen to really learn more about this car that many an ‘expert’ was slamming as irresponsible.

RS 501

So what is Drift Mode on the new Focus RS? Firstly, let me debunk a myth… by selecting this mode, you’re not instantly going to be sliding around and smoking up your tyres like Ken Block. This function merely helps you develop the skill of drifting, by using the technology in the car to help you get the car sideways, then maintain the slide. It increases the threshold of where the system will step in to correct the car. Secondly, the brains behind this car didn’t set out to make this feature, through incredible research and development the idea came organically.

I encourage safe driving, and implore people to sign up for track days if they want to drive quickly and test their cars to the limit. I’d definitely recommend this for the Focus RS, it’s a sports car, a hot hatch, a magnificent piece of machinery. So, that’s what I did…

"So if i flick the wheel and nail the throttle it'll drift yea"?
“So if i flick the wheel and nail the throttle it’ll drift yea”?

I pitied the brave Ford driving instructor who sat next to me as I approached the skid pan, I’m not sure who was more nervous. Me being the novice drifter, or him, knowing I was a novice drifter. First, we did a sighting lap of the small circle of cone. Then… “give it some gas” he said to me, and I did, plenty of it. Instantly the car roared, the beautiful acoustics of the 350 horse power blasting out, then the rear end started to swing out… maintaining the revs we were sliding around the circle. That’s when your brain kicks in, your foot comes off the accelerator and you come to a stop. You have to go against what your ‘safety first’ instinct might tell you to do, keep the power down to maintain the drift.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this Drift Mode isn’t going to turn you into a stunt driver just at the flick of a switch. To be honest, you could make any car have a ‘drift mode’ if you turn off the traction control and disable safety settings, that’s why the criticism of Ford, in my opinion is unwarranted. They’ve just called a feature by a name that it should have, they haven’t disguised it as something else.

Rant over and back to the test track, where a motokana track is set up. Figure of eights, sharp corners and stopping zones, all covered by a thin film of water. We did a run on all the settings of the car, to feel the difference between each of the modes and then, once I was up to speed with the course it was onto Drift Mode. That’s when you really got to feel the power this car has and the movement the car has when you are using this feature. Powering down out of the corner just a fraction of a second earlier than usual and the back end charged around, flicking the steering wheel to get it turned in for the next corner and out goes the rear end again, switching from side to side and helping me go sideways around the corner. Then it’s a run to the end of the course and on the brakes to a stop. The car has stopped but I haven’t… excitedly chattering away, the adrenaline pumping through my body. That was serious fun, and to be honest, that’s exactly what this car is. It’s fun, it’s got some amazing features that make it more than just a vehicle to get you from A to B.

RS 560

To those who want to criticise, you have every right to your opinion, but before you do, please learn more about the car, what it can do, and what other vehicles do without the honesty of Ford’s naming conventions.

To those who want to buy a Ford Focus RS and try Drift Mode, go and do it, but don’t do it anywhere but a safe location like a test track. There is a time and place to enjoy what supercars and hot hatches can do… please abide by the road rules for your safety, and more importantly other road users.

Finally to those at Ford Performance, bravo, this is an AWESOME car. It sounds good, it looks good and it’s fantastic to drive. Maybe, one day, with enough practice, I will be like Ken Block.. then again, I might win Wimbledon and The US Open one day too. We can only dream….

It looks really, really angry!
It looks really, really angry!

Yes Tunners you can dream! Just like me mate, just like me… Let’s stick to writing about them for now eh and we’ll practice on the weekends.

Thanks for the review DT and thank YOU for reading this far down. Feel free to pop any feedback for David in the comments below. Just don’t mention the drifting…



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.