Ford Focus RS
Beth Twigg

Beth Twigg

Beth is our Content and Paid Media Specialist, tasked with creating great articles to keep you both entertained and informed. She has two years previous experience, but has been writing and scribbling for much longer.

Read time of 5 minutes.

Who hasn't dreamed of drifting a car at high speed around a track?

Drifting rose to prominence in the 1990s and can be traced back to one man - Japanese racing driver Kunimitsu Takahashi. His drifting techniques gained popularity across Japan and were swiftly adopted by street racers.

The runaway success of drifting in Japan soon caught the attention of the Western world, with films like 'The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift' (2006) showcasing the underground street races in Japan. It brought drifting in front of the eyes of young car enthusiasts, and it wasn't long before drifting became a worldwide sport. 

Drifting remains hugely popular, with competitions held across Japan, the USA, the UK, Sweden, and Norway. 

It's become so mainstream that there are even a handful of hot hatches that feature a drift mode. Not just some half-baked system thrown in as an afterthought to please enthusiasts, drift mode is controlled by a computer system that really lets those hot hatches let loose and drift.

Only available on all-wheel-drive cars, it takes advantage of the systems on-board computer that works out how much power is needed and where. Drift mode grabs this system by the horns, throws it out, and sends the majority - if not all - of the power to the back wheels.

Granted, it's not the most practical feature that could be added to a hot hatch. Drift mode is designed to be used on a track - no drifting round the village, please - but for that moment when you do find yourself on a track, you'll be thrilled to have it.

Audi RS3

Audi RS3

The Audi RS3 is the newest offering on the list. Launching in 2021, the RS3 features Audi's award-winning 2.5-litre turbocharged five-pot motor. 

This engine sends 295bhp through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, shooting the RS3 from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. It's a powerful beast, with the sound being generated from the engine's unique 1-2-4-5-3 firing order - and the optional RS sports exhaust will really allow you to ramp up the sound.

The Audi RS3's drift mode comes from the torque splitter device - a pair of electronically controlled multi-disc clutches that allow for better distribution of power across the rear axle. This reduces understeer on hard corners, but also allows for 'controlled drifting'. 

A hot hatch that's as fun to drive as it is good-looking, Audi have really knocked it out of the park when it comes to the RS3. The aggressive styling gives the car an air of confident arrogance - fling this round a track at speed and no-one will want to compete with you.

Drift Rating: 4/5

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Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R

This fast number traces its lineage back to the Mk2 Rallye of 1988, but it wasn't until later in the 2000s with the R32 and its V6 engine during the Mk4 and Mk5 generations that the wider public began to pay attention.

By the time of the Mk7 generation, VW had increased the power and honed the handling. The Volkswagen Golf R had become a flagship model for the German manufacturer.

The new Golf R - with R Performance Torque Vectoring - builds on these impressive roots and is every bit as fun as its predecessors. Arguably, it's actually even more fun.

Where the older model was neutral, the newest iteration is almost biting at the bit to get out on the track and have some fun. It resists understeering even under dire driving, but the VW Golf R's ability to bias the outside rear tyre means that it can treat the driver to a few degrees of power oversteer. Simply put, throw this round a track and it'll drift nicely.

Consistently one of the fastest cars in the Volkswagen line-up, a VW lease is one of the best ways to experience this nippy number for yourself.

Drift Rating: 3/5

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Kia Stinger GTS

Kia Stinger GTS

Kia's limited-edition all-wheel-drive Stinger GTS was unveiled back in 2019. There were only 800 units built, and it was only available to those lucky ducks in North America.

Kia wanted to 'inspire more spirited driving' with their AWD hot hatch and achieved this through a combination of aggressively sleek styling, imposing grille, Federation Orange paint, and drift mode.

The Stinger GTS' all-wheel-drive system has been developed to imitate rear-wheel-drive and features three different drive modes including Comfort and Sport.

But ramp it up to Drift, and the Stinger GTS will throw out any semblance of being a sensible hatchback, instead sending 100 percent of the power to the back. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is tuned to not shift up, and the traction control logic saves you from losing face at any point - while still allowing for a good amount of fun as you heroically drift the Stinger GTS around the track.

And while the limited-edition Kia Stinger GTS is sadly not available to those of us in the UK, fear not. The rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger GT-S is still an excellent hot hatch, both practical and great fun to drive.

Drift Rating: 3.5/5

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Mercedes-AMG A 45 S

Mercedes-AMG A 45 S

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 is one of the most powerful hot hatches around, with the ability to sprint to 62mph in 3.9 seconds and with a top speed of 167mph.

It's a truly joyous ride, and the top-of-the-line 'S' model only improves on the overall experience, coming complete with bigger tailpipes and Drift mode.

Clever clutch packs are integrated into the rear differentials to over-speed the rear wheels in order to achieve drift - and it's also perfect if you like to fiddle.

Mercedes-AMG have included multiple modes - Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Race - as well as basic and advanced chassis assistance settings, and three modes of suspension graphics. If you like digging down into the car's settings, the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S makes that very easy.

Its communicative steering means that on a normal day it's fantastic at clinging on around corners, but it's also more than happy to switch to drift and get playful on the track. 

The confident styling is the cherry on top of the excellent package - and a Mercedes lease is an affordable way for you to experience the joy for yourself. 

Drift Rating: 4/5

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Ford Focus RS

Ford Focus RS

The RS badge of the Ford Focus has long been code for 'insanely fast and bags of fun, but at a price point that people can afford'.

First introduced in 2002, the latest iteration of the Ford Focus RS drives like a rally car, and the introduction of the four-wheel-drive system has allowed for the introduction of Drift mode.

The Ford Focus RS is capable of 345bhp derived from the 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo engine and it has a four-wheel-drive system capable of making the RS behave like it's being rear-wheel driven. It's this rear-wheel-drive trick (where the system sends 100 percent of the power to the rear) that makes the Ford Focus RS so fun as you crank it up through the different modes - Normal, Sport, Track, and Drift.

Give the RS the chance to get out on track, toss it around some corners, and it'll really show you what it can do - big drifts that look deceptively easy.

But even on a regular day the Ford Focus RS is great fun to drive and has all the practicality you'd expect from a normal five-door Ford Focus. Perfect in pretty much every situation.

Drift Rating: 3.5/5

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Fancy experiencing a slice of the action for yourself? Browse our best hatchback lease deals or get in touch with one of our leasing experts.