It’s placed in an ideal spot to take on the Camry and Accord – so what is holding back the Fusion? Apparently nothing other than some more elbow grease
The D-segment sedan remains one of the most hotly contested car formats despite all the news about people switching car-buying preferences to SUVs and Crossovers. The premise is self-fulfilling – you have a car that is just the right size to take a full family, some luggage and drive for long distances. It isn’t quite the seven-seater SUV but it offers the charms of a large American car without the extra girth, the economy and sensibility of the C-segment car with added headroom and legroom and usually sits just within the affordability barrier to keep it distinct from premium brand offerings. In many respects, we can think of these cars as the Goldilocks cars – “just the right size”.
The second generation Ford Fusion was unveiled in 2013 and uses Ford’s strategy of maximising the shareability of platform among many models – the car grew in size over the first generation to the second resulting in the CD4 platform serving as its underpinnings. The Fusion is visibly similar to the Lincoln MKZ in size, but differs from the more luxurious sibling in the styling applied. The Fusion comes from a globalised Ford, using many inputs from its European base, without seeking to replace the Mondeo as Europe’s core model. One of the most significant pass-through dividends is the styling, with hints of an Aston Martin flavour around the grille and headlights as well as in the sweeping rise of the hood.
The Fusion also takes the profile of a regular sedan and tweaks it with an almost fastback rear end – there’s a trunk lid but only just. This results in a sweeping greenhouse volume that looks just a little stretched out – the rear quarter glass is quite evident and useful in mitigating the C-D pillar mass. For the 2017 model year, Ford has refreshed the exterior panel styling, with a sharper grille, wider tail light visual and ridged minor detail changes, but what we had here was the 2016 model year.
The interiors of the car have seen a significant change in the 2016 model year version. The centre console has been redesigned to give a cleaner, sharper treatment, while the instrument panel features the large central speedometer dial with twin display panels on the flanks that are split into driver aid functions to your left and infotainment choices to your right.
You don’t get too many choices in terms of kit on the Fusion. Even the base S variant comes almost completely loaded and the upmarket Sportech takes the game further with larger 17” alloy wheels, dual-zone air-conditioning, 10-way power seat for the driver and 6-way for the front passenger, puddle lamps and an entertainment system that switches back to Ford branding from Sony. This system still gives a 10-speaker output with voice command and Sync.
In the region, the Fusion is available only with the 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder unit that produces 175HP with a modicum of torque at 237Nm. This puts the sedan squarely in the middle of its segment in terms of the power offering, with the 6-speed automatic transmission again follows the segment trend. The Fusion beats the norm in terms of safety offerings with its knee, curtain, side and frontal airbags and tyre pressure monitoring system along with stability and traction control (with a degree of brake controlled torque vectoring).
The upmarket feel of the Fusion Sportech extends to the rather good job done on its NVH and ride quality. The engine is rather muted at ignition and seems tuned for healthy midrange performance over an absolute top end delivery. The six-speed has a tall gearing that reflects in slightly over revving the take off, but the Ford love affair with the supple suspension characteristics of the MacPherson strut front paired with integral link at the rear is very evident as is the better than expected response of the electrical power assisted steering.
The car doesn’t get the usual hands-free opening and button start arrangement you would expect. The Sportech gets the B-pillar based code entry and a remote opening key, but you invariably have to use the key on the column.
Brake response is slightly exaggerated by the tendency of the system to overcompensate, but it never really displays any grabiness, stopping firmly on command and without noticeable fade.
The car definitely has more character than most market competition although the charm of the dashboard seems centred around the IP and centre console. Cabin styling could be improved – after all, the car seems to be addressing an increasingly global customer. The parking brake is now electrical – operated from a console switch rather than the US specific stomp pedal.
The Ford Fusion is going through its mid-model generation refreshes that are helping to keep it contemporary. Ever so often you get another evolutionary jump from competition, but there really isn’t much room for revolutionary changes in these cars, so your Fusion will stay pretty current even a few years down the line. Pricing will be the deciding factor – that and figuring out how much of a premium you place on a full safety quotient as well as a very good entertainment package.