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A few weeks ago, I was approached by Tomek of Nutron Promoto about testing his new Drift DevICE for the 2016-2018 Ford Focus RS. The devICE (which I will be referring to as the "dongle" from here on out) is an accessory that plugs into the OBDII port and, with the accompanying recalibration of the braking control unit (BCU), allows actuation of the rear brakes when pulling the hand brake to initiate rotation of the car.

https://promoto.nutron.pl/en/nutron-drift-device-ff-rs3.html

This functions very similarly to Ford Performance’s “Drift Stick” (which I will refer to as the “DS”), which I currently have installed in my car.

Full disclosure: I was provided a Drift devICE dongle free of charge in exchange for this review and posting about it on my social media. This review is only for the dongle as I do not have the handbrake mod. Testing was done on wet tarmac in private property.

Installation:

Having the DS already installed in my car, installation of the dongle was pretty simple: unplug DS connector from the OBDII, replace with the dongle, remove DS handbrake assembly, DONE! No flashing needed. I would note that if you have an OBDII splitter like I did, having both the dongle and the DS plugged-in will not work and cause some funky behavior. Plus, having the DS assembly on really gets in the way of actuating the handbrake during use.

Installation on a non-DS car would be similar, with the addition of flashing the BCU. Unfortunately, at the writing of this review, I do not have exact details on the flashing/tuning scheme, so I would keep an eye on the Nutron website for further details.

Also, at least for USDM cars, the dongle is too large for you to be able to close the OBDII port door while it’s plugged in. You will have to unmount the OBDII plug from it’s mount by depressing two tabs (one on either side) from the back and pushing it towards the front of the car. This should allow you to plug in the dongle, then tuck it back into the open space above the original mount and close the door. The is the same trick used on the Cobb AP cable shown on the video below.


The Good:

As mentioned above, installation is a breeze, specially if you already have the DS calibration.

I like how activation is much simpler as well: just completely turn off traction control by holding down the traction control button until the display shows it is fully deactivated.

I also like that I’m able to use it in all the other drive modes, unlike the DS, which only works in Driftmode. This was the main draw for me even though I already had a DS.

The last, and probably most important PRO, is the price. Compared to the DS (currently ~$900-$1k), the dongle is 1/3 the price @$285. If you went with the handbrake mod bundle, you’re looking at a less “mode-restrictive” DS set-up for half the price.

The Bad:

Actuation is done by triggering the parking brake sensor, so you only have to pull it until you see the “(!)” light illuminate on the dash, which is about 1/2"-1” from the down position. You can actually activate it without engaging the first ratchet “click”, so you don’t really even have to keep the thumb button depressed if you’re careful. This seems nice on paper until you’re in the “heat of the moment”. During actual use, I found myself really pulling at it more that I had intended to, so I had to make sure my thumb was pressing down on the handbrake button “old school” style. Not a big deal if you’re used to it, but since I’ve grown used to mindlessly ripping back on the DS lever, it felt less natural to me. I really wished there was a way to program it so that I can activate it using my existing DS handbrake assembly instead of the parking brake sensor.

For those who don’t have a DS, this is when the Nutron Handbrake Mod comes in handy.

https://promoto.nutron.pl/en/nutron-handbreak-mod1.html

I must admit, trying very hard to stay unbiased, I’m not a fan of the handbrake mod. I like the simplicity of the design, and they do share similar aesthetics, but I find the DS to be the cleaner execution of the two. I like how the DS keeps the handbrake pinned down and tied to the floor so that the DS handle is stable and pivots farther forward, allowing me to just yank at it without much care. On the other hand, the Nutron mod still pivots at the handbrake hinge, so you get the full throw of the handbrake, which might feel less natural. Granted, I did not get to try it, so this is purely my speculation based on photos on their site and videos on FB, so take it with a grain of salt. On the plus-side, it looks like it does have an easy way to switch between “ratchet” and “non-ratchet” modes.

Also, not sure if it’s just technique related, but I also found the activation of the DS smoother than the Nutron dongle. The dongle almost felt like it activated/deactivated too quickly. When about to turn-in, I feel like I would lock up the rear before I was ready to initiate the rotation. When coming out of the turn and powering out, I felt like the RDU would reengage suddenly and jerk me forward. Again, could be due to me being more used to the DS, which, for those who got to try it at the RS academy know, does have a slight delay/pause that takes some getting used to.

Other things to note:

During testing, I did find that driftmode seems to be the best mode to use it in, I’m guessing due to the RDU being programmed to allow more generous power to the rears when powering out of a slide. When in either sport or track mode, the car felt like it wanted to stop rotating immediately once I let go of the handle and either wants to quickly straighten out or understeers as I power out, causing me to quickly let off the gas. So for me, it was nice to be able to try the other drive modes, but in the end, I was back to preferring the original DS configuration. This might be different on loose surfaces, which I do plan on testing next year on my next rallycross event (gravel/packed dirt). I will definitely post an update when I do.

Conclusion/TLDR:

The Nutron devICE is a great way to have the same fun as the Ford Performance Driftstick for a third (or half, if you grab the handbrake mod bundle) the price. Actuation with the handbrake can be tricky if you’re used to the driftstick and may take some practice (having the handbrake mod may help). If you already have a driftstick, it may not be worth it just for the quicker activation or ability to use it with other drive modes.
 

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A few weeks ago, I was approached by Tomek of Nutron Promoto about testing his new Drift DevICE for the 2016-2018 Ford Focus RS. The devICE (which I will be referring to as the "dongle" from here on out) is an accessory that plugs into the OBDII port and, with the accompanying recalibration of the braking control unit (BCU), allows actuation of the rear brakes when pulling the hand brake to initiate rotation of the car.

https://promoto.nutron.pl/en/nutron-drift-device-ff-rs3.html

This functions very similarly to Ford Performance’s “Drift Stick” (which I will refer to as the “DS”), which I currently have installed in my car.

Full disclosure: I was provided a Drift devICE dongle free of charge in exchange for this review and posting about it on my social media. This review is only for the dongle as I do not have the handbrake mod. Testing was done on wet tarmac in private property.

Installation:

Having the DS already installed in my car, installation of the dongle was pretty simple: unplug DS connector from the OBDII, replace with the dongle, remove DS handbrake assembly, DONE! No flashing needed. I would note that if you have an OBDII splitter like I did, having both the dongle and the DS plugged-in will not work and cause some funky behavior. Plus, having the DS assembly on really gets in the way of actuating the handbrake during use.

Installation on a non-DS car would be similar, with the addition of flashing the BCU. Unfortunately, at the writing of this review, I do not have exact details on the flashing/tuning scheme, so I would keep an eye on the Nutron website for further details.

Also, at least for USDM cars, the dongle is too large for you to be able to close the OBDII port door while it’s plugged in. You will have to unmount the OBDII plug from it’s mount by depressing two tabs (one on either side) from the back and pushing it towards the front of the car. This should allow you to plug in the dongle, then tuck it back into the open space above the original mount and close the door. The is the same trick used on the Cobb AP cable shown on the video below.


The Good:

As mentioned above, installation is a breeze, specially if you already have the DS calibration.

I like how activation is much simpler as well: just completely turn off traction control by holding down the traction control button until the display shows it is fully deactivated.

I also like that I’m able to use it in all the other drive modes, unlike the DS, which only works in Driftmode. This was the main draw for me even though I already had a DS.

The last, and probably most important PRO, is the price. Compared to the DS (currently ~$900-$1k), the dongle is 1/3 the price @$285. If you went with the handbrake mod bundle, you’re looking at a less “mode-restrictive” DS set-up for half the price.

The Bad:

Actuation is done by triggering the parking brake sensor, so you only have to pull it until you see the “(!)” light illuminate on the dash, which is about 1/2"-1” from the down position. You can actually activate it without engaging the first ratchet “click”, so you don’t really even have to keep the thumb button depressed if you’re careful. This seems nice on paper until you’re in the “heat of the moment”. During actual use, I found myself really pulling at it more that I had intended to, so I had to make sure my thumb was pressing down on the handbrake button “old school” style. Not a big deal if you’re used to it, but since I’ve grown used to mindlessly ripping back on the DS lever, it felt less natural to me. I really wished there was a way to program it so that I can activate it using my existing DS handbrake assembly instead of the parking brake sensor.

For those who don’t have a DS, this is when the Nutron Handbrake Mod comes in handy.

https://promoto.nutron.pl/en/nutron-handbreak-mod1.html

I must admit, trying very hard to stay unbiased, I’m not a fan of the handbrake mod. I like the simplicity of the design, and they do share similar aesthetics, but I find the DS to be the cleaner execution of the two. I like how the DS keeps the handbrake pinned down and tied to the floor so that the DS handle is stable and pivots farther forward, allowing me to just yank at it without much care. On the other hand, the Nutron mod still pivots at the handbrake hinge, so you get the full throw of the handbrake, which might feel less natural. Granted, I did not get to try it, so this is purely my speculation based on photos on their site and videos on FB, so take it with a grain of salt. On the plus-side, it looks like it does have an easy way to switch between “ratchet” and “non-ratchet” modes.

Also, not sure if it’s just technique related, but I also found the activation of the DS smoother than the Nutron dongle. The dongle almost felt like it activated/deactivated too quickly. When about to turn-in, I feel like I would lock up the rear before I was ready to initiate the rotation. When coming out of the turn and powering out, I felt like the RDU would reengage suddenly and jerk me forward. Again, could be due to me being more used to the DS, which, for those who got to try it at the RS academy know, does have a slight delay/pause that takes some getting used to.

Other things to note:

During testing, I did find that driftmode seems to be the best mode to use it in, I’m guessing due to the RDU being programmed to allow more generous power to the rears when powering out of a slide. When in either sport or track mode, the car felt like it wanted to stop rotating immediately once I let go of the handle and either wants to quickly straighten out or understeers as I power out, causing me to quickly let off the gas. So for me, it was nice to be able to try the other drive modes, but in the end, I was back to preferring the original DS configuration. This might be different on loose surfaces, which I do plan on testing next year on my next rallycross event (gravel/packed dirt). I will definitely post an update when I do.

Conclusion/TLDR:

The Nutron devICE is a great way to have the same fun as the Ford Performance Driftstick for a third (or half, if you grab the handbrake mod bundle) the price. Actuation with the handbrake can be tricky if you’re used to the driftstick and may take some practice (having the handbrake mod may help). If you already have a driftstick, it may not be worth it just for the quicker activation or ability to use it with other drive modes.
Pics of kids throwing devil horns out passenger window or it didn’t happen lol
 
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Should not be too hard to mod the DS and wire the switch that closes on pull in parallel to the parking brake sensor, if that circuit closes on pull like every other car I've worked on. Basically the same thing I plan to do when I mod my extra DS for use on race rig in the house.
 

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Thanks @BigFatFlip for your review! Just sent @TomekRST a PM about buying the whole kit (dongle + handle) and going through the flasher unit exchange process.

Will review the flashing process whenever I get it done if not reviewed by someone else already by then.

Great snowday here today, waiting for Costco to open at 9am to go out and enjoy the RS in the snow!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Should not be too hard to mod the DS and wire the switch that closes on pull in parallel to the parking brake sensor, if that circuit closes on pull like every other car I've worked on. Basically the same thing I plan to do when I mod my extra DS for use on race rig in the house.
This was my thought as well. The DS looks to have 2 micro switches (one engaged when "inactive"/down and one when "active"/pulled up). It has a control board (so it needs power) and a connector (2-pin? 3-pin?) that links it to the OBDII port. If you can some how splice the signal coming from the handbrake sensor into the "active" micro switch on the DS, I think you'd have your solution.

Looking forward to what you come up with. Please post either here or on the other drift device thread!

Will review the flashing process whenever I get it done if not reviewed by someone else already by then.

Great snowday here today, waiting for Costco to open at 9am to go out and enjoy the RS in the snow!
Feel free to post your thoughts here on the flashing process and the handbrake mod. Those are the two things I didn't really get to review and I'd be happy to update the OP with your thoughts as I'd like this review to be as complete as possible.
 
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