Australia might be the country where the term “hooning” originated, but things are not always hunky dory for car enthusiasts there. There was recent controversy over the Ford Mustang’s Line Lock feature, which holds the front brakes for sweet burnouts, and now everyone’s favorite new hot hatch has come under fire.
Safety advocates working in Australia are up in arms over the new Focus RS and its Drift Mode, according to a News.com.au report. In spite of the mounting pressure, Ford Australia has no intention to disable the RS’s Track or Drift modes since it displays a disclaimer on the dashboard saying those modes are for track use only.
Ford Australia actually had to disable the Line Lock for Australia-bound Mustangs in response to–and I’m not joking here–Australia’s “anti-hooning laws,” that essentially make burnouts on public roads illegal. Under these laws, someone who’s caught illegally doing a burnout can have their car confiscated.
This was a nice gesture towards safety advocates on Ford Australia’s part, but it was also a hollow one—the Mustang can easily do a burnout without Line Lock. In any case, it’s the only Mustang market in the world where the feature is disabled.
For a while, it looked like Drift Mode wouldn’t come to the Australian-spec Focus RS for the same reasons, but the company decided back in January that it would, per a Motoring report.
“I think the propensity of someone to do a burn-out at a stop is far greater than somebody wanting to drift on the road,” said Ford Australia president Graeme Whickman in an interview with Motoring. “Quite seriously, when you are driving around how often do you see people actively trying to drift their cars, compared to someone wanting to drift their wheels from the start.”
That argument hasn’t stopped the cries for Ford to disable Drift Mode in the Australian-spec Focus RS, though. Harold Scruby, head of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, is one of those leading the crusade against drift mode.
“A disclaimer is not going to stop an idiot from trying this on public roads,” said Scruby in a News.com.au interview. “We urge Ford to reconsider its decision, recall these vehicles and disable this driving mode.”
Jack Haley, senior policy manager at the National Roads and Motorists’ Association argues that Drift Mode encourages illegal activity in the same way as Line Lock.
“Any sustained loss of traction on public roads is illegal,” said Haley.
Granted, no one who owns a Focus RS (or any car, really) should be attempting to drift on public roads, but disabling the feature altogether seems draconian. As is the case with the Mustang and Line Lock, defeating the mode doesn’t take away the car’s inherent ability to lose traction. Even without Drift Mode, hoons will figure out a way to get all sorts of sideways on public roads.
All disabling it would really do is punish those who want to use it responsibly.