The coast is clear. The road is empty. The cul de sac is clear. I make my move accelerating into the circle. Flicking the handle adds that glorious angle. The winter tires sling snow it brilliant arc behind the 2017 Focus RS’ rear tires. For a Florida boy, this is the ultimate snow day, and its fun was delivered courtesy of one of the cleverest bolt-on parts in recent memory — the Drift Stick.
With this, you flip the handle and — boom — the big angle is already there. — John Wicks, Ford Performance
You may recall that Ford Performance Parts took the wraps off this innovative fun handle at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. We gave the background skinny on the upgrade then, and your author couldn’t wait to get a chance to really give it a yank.
While your author did his best to keep his like-equipped Focus RS tester on the pavement during Drift Stick-assisted slides, these shots are approximate the fun had during a snow day in Detroit. (Photo Credit: Ford Performance)
In the interim, I did take a ride in a so-equipped Focus RS with none other than the creator of the Drift Stick (PN M-2780-FRS; $999), Ford Performance engineer, John Wicks. Even on the smoldering dry asphalt in Las Vegas, he had us slaying tires with just a flick of the stick and a cut of the wheel.
“What’s nice about it is if you go into a corner and stand on it, drop the throttle and stand on it again, you can get that big angle,” he told us when we first detailed the stick. “With this, you flip the handle and — boom — the big angle is already there. That’s the cool part. It may even cut down on tire wear because you don’t have to progress into it.”
The Drift Stick mounts on the factory emergency brake handle and mounts solidly to the base of the seat via a ball stud and socket. By releasing tension, the socket can be slipped off the stud to allow for use of the e-brake. You cannot accidentally engage the stick, which interfaces with the powertrain control module via the OBD-II port.
Each time he demonstrated how easy it was, I just felt giddy; grinning from ear to ear. As I climbed out of the hot hatch, I had to reflect. These truly are great times that the factory would continue creating such fun ways to enjoy cars like the Focus RS.
Drift Stick Details
• Six degrees of handle travel
• Only works in Drift Mode with ESC off
• Functions from 3-70 MPH
• Allows trail braking up to 60 psi of line pressure
• Applies 2,610 psi to rear brakes to rear brakes
• Opens clutches in Rear Drive Unit
Fast-forward to the North American International Auto show this past January. Hearing rumblings that the show would see some impressive machines debut there, we hopped a plane to the Motor City and upon arrival the crew at Ford Performance offered up the key fob to a Nitrous Blue Focus RS wearing the optional winter tire package and up-fit with none other than the Drift Stick. Day made.
Before you can have fun, you must first hold the button for five seconds to disable the electronic stability control. They you can engage push the Drive Mode button until Drift Mode is deployed. With that process complete, you should see a green LED illuminated on the Drift Stick meaning you are ready for slideways action. Pulling the handle applies 2,610 psi to the rear brakes a decouples the clutches in the Rear Drive Unit to allow for those big slides.
While most of my time in the D was serious business — Ford rolled out a cavalcade of performance hardware in need of reporting on — I carved out a bit of time before returning to the Sunshine State. In that brief time I grew to appreciate not only what a great daily the RS would make in colder climes, but also just how much fun the pairing the Drift Mode and Drift Stick can be.
While I am no professional Hoonigan behind the wheel, the Drift Stick lets even the rookies like me feel like they are ready for a little Gymkhana action. Before you get started, simply disengage the traction control, select Drift Mode, and you are ready to get slideways. On a snowy January day, hanging that angle was easy to initiate.
From the aforementioned cul-de-sac to a curve in the road to even a lonely stretch of straight road, it was starting to become a problem. Whether I was just flicking out the rear for a brief shot of endorphins or hanging a rooster tail of snow for a longer surge of feel-good, the siren’s song of the Drift Stick was hard to resist.
Once the Drift Stick is active, it’s hard to resist giving it a tug as you enter a turn. Heck, we even found ourselves cutting the wheel and grabbing the stick for a quick fishtail on an empty section of pavement. It is good fun, especially on a slippery, snowy day.
On a recommendation, I found an ideal corner and cut loose for a last hurrah on the way to the airport. As the tail hung out, I had the Cheshire Cat grin again, but I had to get things under control and make a flight. It was probably a good thing that my time with the Drift Stick was a mere flirtation. However, if you have a Focus RS and you want some fun that is just a pull of the handle away, you gotta get one of these. Just be warned, this stick is addictive.
For more on the Drift Stick, you can refer to our intro story here and check out its official page here.