Australia has a complicated relationship with the car. It is home to one of the most vibrant and varied car cultures on the planet, and one of the most spectacular race series in V8 Supercars. On track, or in a closed environment, pretty much anything goes. But out on the road, Australia has one of the most restrictive traffic codes in existence and even minor offences often carry pretty draconian punishments.

The Ford Focus RS, which went on sale in Australia earlier this week, has become the nexus of these contradictions, road safety campaigners calling for its Drift Mode to be banned.

You'll be well aware by now that Drift Mode engages the RS's sophisticated electronics to allow even the clumsiest of drivers to slide around like a pro - though a number of recent videos have shown the system is far from fool proof.

A disclaimer that the system is only intended for track use is displayed before it can be engaged, but that isn't enough for some in Australia. Campaigner Harold Scruby said he was "absolutely stunned" the system was approved by Australian regulators.

Mr Scruby, head of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, said: "A disclaimer is not going to stop an idiot from trying this on public roads. We urge Ford to reconsider its decision, recall these vehicles and disable this driving mode. Ford cannot absolve itself of its duty of care to road users and its customers with a disclaimer on the dashboard."

Professor Brian Owler, former president of the Australian Medical Association, added: “They’re 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. Without a race track it’s inherently dangerous.”

In most Australian states, drivers caught drifting face an instant driving ban of six to 12 months and the confiscation of their car. Burnouts are covered under the same law, which led Ford to disable the line lock on Australian-market Mustangs. Ford has not yet issued a full response to the Drift Mode controversy.



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