You do not necessarily have to be a very passionate driver to know what handbrake turn is. It is a special manoeuvre, carried out by enthusiastic drivers, teenagers and rally drivers. However, new cars tend to not have a proper mechanical brake – they have an electronic one, which simply does not work the same. In many cases, actually, it is programmed not to block the wheels of a rolling car. But Ford invented something new.
Ford Performance Drift Stick works much quicker than a traditional handbrake unit and is very easy to operate. Image credit: Ford
The Drift Stick – literally a stick, connecting to the electronic brake, is the first electronically controlled performance handbrake in the world. It was developed by the same team, which brought us the Drift Mode in the Focus RS. Obviously, because electronic handbrakes do not work in the same way, Ford had to create a system how to connect the aluminium lever by the driver’s seat with ABS and hydraulic braking system. In short, it allows bypassing ABS for rear wheels, opening up the rear-drive unit clutches and applying hydraulic pressure to lock the rear wheels. This results in rally-like skids.
Installing an old-school mechanical unit would require drilling holes, mounting brackets and possibly changing the architecture of the central console. This simple electronic handbrake works very well and is extremely easy to operate – it requires only a fraction of the force that the traditional handbrake. And since Ken Block is at Ford’s disposal, he got to check it out as well. Block said that the Drift Stick definitely makes the car even more fun to drive. Block is famous for pulling large angles in his Gymkhana series and it is performed using a traditional handbrake. While this electronic system is not up to rallying standards, it definitely allows for larger drift angles, which it is all about.
And because the Drift Stick is electronic, it can be tuned – there is a USB port for this exact reason. The unit can also connect to the car’s on-board diagnostics port. Ford Performance Drift Stick is coming for sale this December already and will cost $999, however, only US and Canada customers will be able to purchase it. And, of course, drivers will only be allowed to use it on racing circuits. There is good news, however – installation of this mod does not cancel the vehicle warranty.
Ford Focus RS is an impressive four-wheel-drive hot-hatch, which has something others do not – a drift mode. It allows for some controllable fun while skidding around a track. However, for some it may be too controllable and that is where a handbrake would come in – it would allow for more driver involvement and larger skid angles.
Photo credit: Ford