Watching Chris Harris Try to Do a Handbrake Turn with an Electric Handbrake is Very Depressing
Where’s the fun in an electronic handbrake?by Kirby, on
Top Gear host Chris Harris’ penchant for performing in-car experiments manifested itself recently when he decided to find out if it’s possible to perform a handbrake turn with an electric handbrake. For this particular stunt — I mean “experiment” — Harris enlisted the help of Top Gear co-host and Extra Gear main man Rory Reid and a Volkswagen Golf R. The goal was simple: Engage the electronic handbrake while the Golf R is traveling at 120 mph and see what happens after that. The result, as you can imagine, isn’t what Harris or Reid expected.
You have to give Chris Harris some credit for demonstrating what happens to a car if you engage its electronic handbrake while traveling at a speed of 120 mph. There’s a good chance that he already knows what’s going to happen, but the PSA is well-appreciated. Decked in what looks like a full-body hockey gear — that’s him trying to be funny — Harris drove a facelifted Volkswagen Golf R to demonstrate this experiment of sorts with co-host Rory Reid, who doesn’t appear to be that engaged in the stunt without his own protective gear. Obviously, there’s a bit amount of acting from the two hosts when they’re doing the experiment, but Harris came through on his word of engaging the Golf R’s electronic handbrake in front of the cameras.
Naturally, the electronic handbrake did what it was supposed to do. It brought the Volkswagen Golf R to a slow stop without much fuss.
If you were expecting a lot of smoke from this experiment, then you’re going to be very disappointed about the outcome. Not only was there no smoke, there wasn’t anything at all. The Golf R just stopped. From there, Harris’ experiment turned to finding out if the Golf R could drift if it had an electronic handbrake. So, he accelerated, caught some speed, turned right, and pulled on the electronic handbrake. Again, nothing. The Golf R just stopped casually, as if it had no time for Harris’ shenanigans.
You don’t need to be a genius to realize that the results would’ve been very, very different if this was a car with a regular handbrake lever. There’d be thread marks and smoke. Lots of them, too. But alas, electronic handbrakes have taken the fun out of drifting. Actually, not only have they taken the fun out of it, they’ve completely rendered the act impossible.
That’s not to say that electronic handbrakes have no purpose in the real world.
It enhances safety in a lot of real-world scenarios, including preventing a car from rolling backwards when it’s going uphill. Electronic handbrakes also engage other braking systems in a car, including hill-hold functions, provided that a specific model has them.
At the end of the day, though, drivers who love to drift should probably stay away from cars with electronic handbrakes. Buy one, and you might be disappointed.
Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.