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Ford Focus RS Drift Mode Was a Happy Accident

Once discovered, it turned into one of the hatchback's biggest selling points.

As some engineers at Ford learned not long ago, some of the best things in life are discovered by accident: Play-Doh; Velcro; the Slinky; and apparently, even the Focus RS’s Drift Mode.

One of the preset driving features on the new Ford Focus RS hatchback, Drift Mode helps the driver pull off uber-sick slides by sending up to 70 percent of the RS’s power to the rear wheels, then further divvying up which of the rear wheels receives more of that torque to push the car around. While all that is going on, the car’s computers monitor steering inputs and the degree to which the car is yawing to make sure the driver flawlessly executes his or her Ken Block-esque antics. (And as Ford will tell you, it was clearly designed only for track use.)

When spoke with Ford Performance engineering manager Tyrone Johnson, he explained that the vehicle configuration that led to Drift Mode was discovered largely by chance. A pair of the Focus RS development team members were fooling around in a prototype when the shotgun-riding tech began fiddling with the software controlling the all-wheel-drive system—only for the driver to find the tweaks “really cool.”

“I guess it’s just because we are a bunch of crazy guys,” Johnson told

When the engineering team showed their discovery off to Ford’s global head of product development Raj Nair, he demanded the feature be included in the production version of the car. Furthermore, Johnson, said, Nair was all-in on making Drift Mode a prominent part of selling the Focus RS.

“It was actually Raj who said ‘We have got to market this, this is a cool feature. We need to make this a prominent part of the program, as opposed to a side note,'” Johnson said.