The Ford Focus RS' Drift Mode Was Discovered Completely By Accident

The magically sideways gift to Ford Focus RS hoons everywhere, Drift Mode, almost didn’t happen at all. The easiest marketing tie-in with Ken Block ever created was actually discovered by accident.


Drift Mode tweaks some settings in the all-wheel-drive and stability control systems to allow the Focus RS to slide around more. It’s been a Godsend to fans of the slide, as well as Mustang owners who hope something else will take the title of “Biggest Cars and Coffee Risk” away from them.

However, Ford Performance vehicle and engineering manager Tyrone Johnson told Australia’s Motoring that drift mode was an accidental—if fortuitous—discovery made while testing out the Focus RS’s twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system. Johnson explained:

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.

They eventually demonstrated the tail-happy settings they’d discovered to Ford global technical and development chief Raj Nair, who ultimately identified it as a major selling point for the car and pushed it through to production.

The rest, as you know, is history—just like the Focus RS of someone with more confidence than talent pulling out of a car show. Happy hooning.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.