Does it work? The Ford Mustang's Line Lock

Published: 28 June 2016

► Ford Mustang's Line Lock put to the test
► Plumes of smoke in the name of science
► Using it won't invalidate your warranty 

Ever wondered what Ken Block smells like? Well, Ford now offers you the opportunity to find out – no, not via some kind of secret fragrance diffuser activated by the Drift Mode function in the Mk3 Focus RS, but thanks to the Line Lock system that’s part of the Track App package on the Mustang GT.

The theory is simple: engage Line Lock, roast rear tyres until the police arrive or you can no longer see. The resulting odour of eau de atomised rubber will cling to you for days, unless you have ready access to one of those decontamination showers they use at the scene of nuclear accidents. But can Ford really have made it that easy to become a social nuisance? We obviously had to find out. In the name of science. You understand.

Unlike Drift Mode, Line Lock actually serves a recognisable purpose – if you intend to become a regular competitor at Santa Pod. As with the aftermarket mechanical solutions that have existed since the dawn of drag racing, the system locks the front brakes while keeping the rears free, thus allowing them to spin. The resulting smoke is evidence of grip-enhancing heat, which increases traction (see: science!). Ford’s innovation is the electronic Line Lock activation, and its inclusion as standard equipment on a car you can now buy at UK Ford showrooms.

Underlining this point, our chosen test subject was the least racy-seeming Mustang V8 we could lay our hands on – a convertible fitted with the automatic gearbox, and finished in a kind of overripe salmon pink. Totally a drag-racing candidate. But sure enough, all it takes is a few prods of the steering wheel-mounted buttons and you too can melt the rear Michelins. And possibly the tarmac. Me? I felt like the nerdy guy out of American Graffiti.

Line Lock limits itself to a 15-second countdown, but the mechanically sympathetic will cry uncle on the Mustang’s behalf well before then, such is the system’s appetite for tyre destruction. Given this, it’s remarkable that Ford confirms using Line Lock won’t invalidate the warranty. But using your shiny new Mustang on track will. Odd, since Line Lock is supposedly for track use only. Hmm.

Hooliganism thinly disguised as technology


1) Ready!

Use the steering-wheel joypad to access the Track App menu, then Line Lock. ‘Hold OK to initialise’. Very Tony Stark 


2) Aim!

After the thumb workout comes the foot workout – press the brake pedal HARD or Line Lock won’t activate. Show no sympathy 


3) Fire!

Hit OK again, and when the brake pedal goes light, flatten the accelerator. 15sec is a surprisingly long time. Sorry, neighbours

Did it work?

By Jove, yes – although creating house-sized clouds of smoke is probably best not made a habit. Which may explain why the dash-cluster instructions are somewhat pernickety. Still, if you do miscue, the 410bhp V8’s 391lb ft so easily overwhelms the rear brakes to spin those tyres that it’s only concern for disc/pad longevity that justifies Line Lock’s existence. Almost.

Read more from the May 2016 issue of CAR magazine

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count