Ford Focus RS grabs world-first electronically controlled performance handbrake

As if the Ford Focus RS wasn’t already an awesome track car, Ford Performance have gone and added a US$999 ‘Drift Stick’ option.  Developed, designed, approved by Ken Block,...

As if the Ford Focus RS wasn’t already an awesome track car, Ford Performance have gone and added a US$999 ‘Drift Stick’ option.  Developed, designed, approved by Ken Block, this world’s first electronically controlled performance handbrake, means you can really try your hand and pulling off those handbrake turns, drifts and everything Gymkhana (on the track of course).

The Focus RS is already a phenomenal car in terms of performance, seats and drive modes, namely ‘Drift mode’, but adding a real handbrake will turn your suped-up grocery-getter into a serious rallycross vehicle.

The Drift Stick is an aluminum lever between the driver’s seat and manual transmission, which transforms the all-wheel-drive system in conjunction with the antilock braking system, to open up the rear-drive unit which clutches and applies hydraulic pressure to lock the rear wheels to induce drift with the simple pull of a lever. The results are clutch-free drift turns very similar to the experience of a real rally car as demonstrated by Ken Block in the video below.

For final sign-off, professional rally driver Ken Block was consulted on the Ford Performance Drift Stick. Noted for his viral Gymkhana videos, Block is one of the most prolific users of the hydraulic handbrake in rally cars. He pushed for the electronic handbrake to provide every-day drivers with the quickest possible way to get the Focus RS sideways for large-angle drifts.

Ken Block said,

“I think it’s really cool that Ford Performance is offering customers a way to create large-angle drifts in the Focus RS. Obviously it’s something that I’m really passionate about having been a part of the development of the production vehicle, so it’s exciting to see it come to life. It definitely makes the car even more fun to drive.”

Since a hydraulic handbrake would have required substantial modifications to the car that couldn’t be easily reversed, the Ford Performance Drift Stick was developed as an entirely electronic technology.

Once the wizardry began, a Ford Performance engineer noted the many similarities in its electronics with a part Ford already sells on a regular basis – the professional calibration tool. Integrating this existing technology resulted in easily plugging a USB cable into the Ford Performance Drift Stick to pull select diagnostic data and upload powertrain calibrations for the Focus RS.

The digital design enables a number of key benefits:

  • Instantaneous engagement and release – just five to six pounds of pressure is required to operate the Ford Performance Drift Stick – significantly less than a hydraulic handbrake – for easy, precise use
  • Installation and removal is easy, as there is no welding, hole drilling or calipers as necessary in a hydraulic kit
  • It also connects to the onboard diagnostics port on the car, allowing it to function as a professional calibration tool

Now for the bad bit, its only available for customers in the United States and Canada from December.. insert massive sad face, this definitely needs to come to Australia, a country with plenty of talented racing drivers that would love to have this option.

The kit includes the Drift Stick lever, mounts and circuit board with professional calibration functionality. The car’s warranty is unaffected by its installation.

More information at Ford.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.