It seems that R* works hard on creating a specific mood for every game, and that mood affects missions, characterization, driving mechanic, music and even the colour tone.
Many people here criticise GTA IV or V's driving mechanics for example.
Niko seems to like switching the traction and stability off, most likely because he grew up driving cheaper manual cars and got used to that. Additionally, Liberty city iha sharp corners and narrow streets, drifting is inevitable. Plus its cool and fun to drift IMO. He's also mainly a hired gun, so his prerogative is to escape the police by cornering through the narrow streets and losing the cops.
In GTA V set in Los Santos, a very bourgeois city with high end cars. The protagonists are pro thieves operating in a traffic laden city with wide streets. The driving mechanic is often described as "twitchy", and that actually depends on the car and its capabilities, the "twitchiness" is needed when speeding between cars and weaving through traffic. The drifting focus of GTA IV was replaced by powerful responsive cars that are needed in the crowded wide long streets. The characters are all greedy as well, so they need high end cars to spend their money on or to steal and parade in in that shallow money obsessed city.
Another example is the removal of purchasable properties in GTA IV, Niko is an illegal immigrant with a vendetta. How and why would he buy and develop properties?
These are just a couple of examples of how Rockstar adds or removes features to suit the setting and maintain a unique immersive experience.