Ford Focus RS: Why the Nanny State is out of control

Ford Focus RS drift mode

Who is stupid enough to buy a car with drift mode, and then go drifting on public roads?

OFFICERS of the nanny state we seem to live in are a strange breed of reverse garbage trucks – crap is regularly hurled out of them. However, it’s easy enough to spot them as they emerge from the woodwork, protesting loudly when a car company makes the mistake of doing something a bit daring and exciting, as Ford has just done with the launch of its new Ford Focus RS.

It’s all because this car has something called a “drift mode”, which has allowed those who think their fellow human beings are too stupid to put on their own pants to get very hot under the waistband and, to use one of their favourite Thou Shalt Not Enjoy Driving terms: “hooning”.

These nanny state officers are most clearly identified wearing police-issue uniforms and special hats, but they’re eagerly aided and abetted by the kind of blokes who wear shiny suits and smarmy smiles and work for TV news programs.

They love a bit of feigned outrage almost as much as they hate hoons and hooning, and Ford’s new hoon mode in particular.

The term “hoon” is a uniquely Australian slur and, to my mind at least, describes the kind of flannelette-shirt loving, breast-obsessed bogans who make attending the Summernats so unpleasant.

There are, sadly, plenty of actual journalists who love a bit of mock horror as well, and will happily give oxygen to someone like Harold Scruby from the Harold Scruby Hates Cars and Loves Pedestrians organisation who would, if he could, ban all motor vehicles tomorrow and force us all to walk everywhere wearing bicycle helmets.

Many of these journalists secretly love cars such as the Focus RS and would dearly love to have a go of the drift mode, which allows you to slide the car around like the world’s pre-eminent and self-proclaimed “Hoonigan” Ken Block, but would only do so if they had the car on a track.

Frankly, if you’re stupid enough to try drifting on public roads in any other car, you’re going to do it without a drifting mode using a button these moral outragers should surely be campaigning about constantly: the “ESC Off” switch.

Effectively, this means the Toyota 86 was also launched with a drift mode, but with less driver support than what Ford is offering in the Focus RS. Likewise, the BMW M2 has a drift mode called Dynamic Traction Control, but again it’s designed to drift best with the traction control off altogether, which it does beautifully.

Let’s not forget the media-enabled amount of fear attached to the word “drifting”. It might explain why there was comparatively no fear mongering when Lexus launched its GS F with “Slalom” mode. Apparently flinging your car around between cones is quite safe, and why would that be?

Oh yes, because you’d only ever really use it on a track.

So what does this dreaded, dangerous drift mode do?

As Ford Performance engineer Jamal Hameedi explained, it works with the car’s stability control system to make drifting the exciting, rally-style Focus RS both easier to drive and safer.

The car’s twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system can channel up to 70 per cent of torque to the rear wheels in Drift Mode, and can then push up to 100 per cent of that to either side of the car via torque-vectoring, making it relatively easy to achieve power oversteer (normally a bit of an effort in AWD cars).

“We know what our customers love to do, and it was a case of: ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be really cool to allow someone to have fun, and to use their driving skills, but still have a car that’s able to help when you need it,’” Hameedi said.

“It works in conjunction with the ESC 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.

“We’d say it’s an excellent teaching tool to help develop your skills—it works with you, not against you.”

If you’re super-confident you can just turn the ESC off and drift the car in a less-safe way, something the TV reporters, police and scribblers haven't mentioned.

But just give them time. If someone doesn’t soon start demanding that “ESC Off” buttons be removed from all cars, it will be something of a miracle.

Frankly, I’m surprised they’re not more outraged that any car has the ability to exceed 110km/h, ever.

When that happens, the nanny state will finally be completely in control. 

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  • This is a clunky, difficult read. Shorter sentences might help your development. Maybe some better subbing?
  • Wait till they find out Ferraris have a Race mode on the steering wheel.......
  • why add something to their car that is going to give the idiots a bigger idea that they are invincible on the road. Bad enough with aftermarket turbo's diving after dark on our local streets, 20 to 30 over the speeds humps then floor it ( some can get up to over the ton before braking hard ) then floor it again. Next fishtailing all over the place on a wet road, seen more than one mount the kerb and scare the **** of pedestrians at a bus stop.
  • Typical of the media blowing something waaaaaaay out of proportion! Don't they understand that enthusiasts can drift in cars without a button if they're trained? This feature allows people who on a track can do it safely!! Grow up journalists!! Stop trying to destroy the enjoyment of driving!!!
  • You wouldn't be the exact same Stephen Corby who wrote this about "hoons" would you? So very helpful how you explain the "hoon cruise". Car lovers refuse to give up their fun - Boys in noisy cars just want to find girls but they're disturbing residents and police STEPHEN CORBY MATP 895 words 15 May 2005 Sunday Telegraph SUNTEL 1 - State 24 English Copyright 2005 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved DESPITE the drive-by shootings, the squadrons of patrolling police and the newly minted No Stopping zones, nothing, it seems, can stop the hoons from torturing Hickson Rd residents every Friday and Saturday night with their car cacophany. New parking restrictions, vigorously enforced by city rangers, mean the car-lovers can no longer congregate, forcing them to circle endlessly, like ground-bound comets. Yet still, they come. The question residents are left asking is not whether they'll turn up each week, but why? The Sunday Telegraph went to Hickson Rd to find out. To the uninitiated, the hoon cruise is very much like motor racing. Hotted-up and lowered down cars go around and around and it's very hard to tell who, if anyone, is winning. However, unlike motor racing, it's easy to join in. In fact, patrons of the Sydney Theatre Company often find themselves unknowingly caught up in the rumbling traffic snake. etc hoon etc hoon etc hoon etc
  • If they renamed it 'track excitement' then it'd be fine...
  • I saw a 'hoon' speeding way over the 60km/hr limit in the Royal National Park on Sunday. Eventually he had to slow down because of traffic doing the speed limit. If that HWY Patrol officer reads this, nice going pal, great example!
  • What a load of BS! As the Ford engineer explained, the technology monitors the situation and takes over if the driver is loosing control. I'd prefer this to a rear wheel drive Commodore being controlled by an experienced driver intent on showing his/her mates or the general public how good a driver they are.
  • Soon as they ban it, there will some young chap with a laptop that will be able to provide a workaround.... What a bunch of BS.... ALL cars have DRIFT MODE.... it's called an accelerator.... Perhaps the experts should focus on driver training.....