Using the engine kill button (x) you can drift along and turn your ship around while still going in the same direction you were when you cut off the engines. This lets you spin around and fire at a pursuer while still flying away from them, and its the most effective way to deal with one of those bandits who just won't let go of your tail. Kill your engines first, then use the thruster until your ship is travelling at speed.. then turn it around. You'll keep travelling in the direction you were going when you used the thruster, even while you turn your ship. Pretty neat, eh?
Using your thruster with engine kill
Once your engines are killed you can use your thruster(if you fitted one)to maneuver without re-activating the engines. This lets you accelerate up to 199 m/s as well as change directions, and gives you the added benefit of drifting in-between thruster bursts. This lets your thrusters recharge while you drift, and its a good method for fleeing the scene. Notice the contrails leading out from the wing-tips, use these as visual aids to tell which way you are drifting. Don't forget you can use thrusters at any time to alter your flightpath.
Watch out though, if you travel in a straight line for too long, the enemy AI can get a bead on you and have you for dinner, so to speak. Also, you have to check your rear view(v) if you are drifting while facing backwards, because you might accidentally fly into a planet. If you use any of the directional movement keys (forward, strafe, backwards, etc) while your engines are off, the engines will start up again and will brake your speed to within 80m/s, so watch out if you are trying to maintain speed and manoeuvrability, use thrusters only unless you want engine power again.
You can even turn your craft completely around without changing your drift direction. While you drift, you are harder to target as long as you are not travelling directly towards or away from your opponent. Try drifting diagonally, but watch out because it takes skill to train your shots onto your target while you drift.
The Drift Advantage
This seems to be a game flaw in the AI, but I'm not sure. If you kill engines and thrust up to 199 m/s away from your enemies, then spin your craft around (with engines still dead) to face whoever you were running away from, you'll find they actually break away MUCH faster than if you don't turn and face them. Is this because they are scared of the extra firepower brought to bear on them, or is it because the AI only execute their pursuit routines when you are turned away from them.. mail me if you know the answer.