Drifting into Aussie angst
A FORD INNOVATION IS COPPING FLAK OVER THE TASMAN
Ford Australia has had to defend the Ford Focus RS “drift mode” feature — which assists the driver in performing a perfectly-crafted drift.
Media outlets around Australia have slammed Ford for condoning “hooning” and suggesting that the mode will lead to high-risk driving on public roads.
Ford Australia says the feature should only ever be used in a closed environment, as shown on the dashboard (pictured).
And the global head of Ford Performance says the company has had no negative feedback on the Focus RS drift mode, adding that he was hugely disappointed that the “line lock” smoky burnout mode had to be disabled for Mustangs in Australia.
Dave Pericak, the director of the company’s in-house tuning arm, Ford Performance, said feedback had been extremely positive.
“We have had no negative feedback,” he said. “In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.”
Pericak agreed it was one of many innovations Ford might need to think twice about if they were considered negative by consumers.
“Also, as far as ‘thinking twice’, yes … on more and more innovations like this. If you are a true car person, then you not only appreciate features like this but you love them. Our customers love the fact that we get it.”
It’s not the first feature to cause controversy for Ford. Pericak is better known for his involvement as the lead engineer on the latest Ford Mustang programme.
Hugely important for Ford globally, it saw the car evolve to offer right-hand drive and a number of huge engineering enhancements over its predecessor.
It’s unlikely to be the last of Ford’s enthusiast-oriented features, with Pericak suggesting that Ford Performance is the innovation leader in that realm. “As far as the competition [goes], I don’t know — but I can say that we are definitely leading in this area,” he said.
But perhaps not in Australia, which has some of the world’s strongest laws against “hooning” on public roads.
According to a report from news.com.au, safety advocates are furious with Ford for selling a vehicle with a feature that allows unskilled drivers to “drive like a hooligan” on public roads.
Harold Scruby, head of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, believes that the Focus RS’ dashboard disclaimer isn’t enough to stop drivers from using the mode on public roads. Scruby, along with other safety experts, are calling on Ford to recall the vehicle and disable the mode.
Under Australia’s strict laws, anyone found drifting or doing a burnout in a vehicle can have their car confiscated by the police.
Ford imported 50 of the cars into New Zealand, retailing at $69,880, and they were snapped up — with drift mode.