The latest Ford Focus RS and its Drift Mode has caused a sensation the like of which we’ve rarely seen in the car world.

Some gearheads talk about it as if it’s the greatest invention there has ever been. While some safety campaigners are convinced anyone who uses it will crash and kill everyone in a five-mile radius.

So what is Drift Mode, exactly? Essentially, it sends all of the Focus RS’s 345 horsepower (257 kilowatts) to the rear wheels via a pair of extremely clever clutch packs that work out exactly how much power is needed at the wheels to maintain a slide.

Sounds like it makes the thing very easy to drift, but that’s not strictly true. It only makes the Focus RS easier to drift. The driver still needs to initiate the drift properly, catch it with the steering, modulate the throttle, and straighten the car out before the road runs out. If you can’t drift it will help you learn, but it won’t magically turn you into a pro.

One owner found that out to his cost while on a run with the New York ST Owners Club in the hills near New Paltz, New York. When the convoy pulled over at a hairpin to take some photos and admire the view, the RS driver took the opportunity to engage Drift Mode. And ably demonstrate that it’s not at all idiot-proof.

Swinging into the hairpin far too fast, he fails to initiate a drift, and when the rear eventually lets go under the strain, the car is already on the shoulder. The rear corner smacks into the cliff face, and the car pinballs into the drainage ditch.

The driver was thrown out of the club for his antics. A statement in the YouTube description said, “NYST does not condone or approve of this reckless behavior on public roadways. The offending person was immediately booted from our club. We practice safety on the road during our cruises, and actions such as this will be dealt with with ZERO TOLERANCE. Take it to the track if you want to drive like this.”


Gallery: Ford Focus RS drift fail

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