RAC

Ford Fusion 1.4 TDCi

"The Fusion TDCi is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a big, square body."

It's a model that is most definitely of its time. As motoring trends wax and wane, some surprising cars are created. Think back to the mid-Eighties when almost every sporting car available had an all-wheel drive Audi Quattro-aping variant. Then there was the early Nineties boom in chunky 4x4s, responding to the soaring insurance premiums that temporarily did for the hot hatch. These days urban crossover vehicles - majoring on either lifestyle, versatility or a combination of both - better suit the prevailing buying mood and the Fusion 1.4 TDCi is just one of a number of likely suspects. Its chunky looks have a 4x4 feel - but this is a 2WD car only. The high-sided body has something of an MPV-look to it - but the seating inside is quite conventional. As a result, you may find the Fusion a difficult concept to pin down. A supersized previous generation Fiesta would be a simple summary of its appeal, but at around £13,500 for the entry level Fusion 1.4 TDCi Style+, you'll need to pay a good deal more than an additional 50p (a la McDonalds) to go large. For those that really want to differentiate, a Zetec version can also be ordered or you can upgrade to the 90bhp 1.6-litre TDCi engine.

Petrol people however, will miss out on the excellence of Ford's latest diesel engine. Did we say Ford? In actual fact, this unit was developed by PSA Peugeot Citroen with a bit of Ford input and a lot of Ford cash. Hence its fitment in cars like the Citroen C3 and Peugeot's 308 model. Installing a heavy diesel engine into the front of a lightweight car usually means all sorts of decidedly sub-optimal fixes regarding the ride and handling. If the engine in question was lighter, you wouldn't need industrial strength front suspension, nor a set-up that caused the car to understeer wildly in order to provide some modicum of ride comfort. That's the basic premise of the Duratorq 1.4 TDCi engine fitted to the Fusion, weighing as it does a mere 98kg. The handling certainly benefits from this lightweight powerplant, being barely distinguishable from the excellent old Fiesta, despite the Fusion's higher centre of gravity. When driven back to back with the 1.4-litre petrol powerplant, the diesel version is infinitely more desirable, the additional muscularity of the powerplant making those annoying downchanges on long uphill stretches virtually superfluous. The acceleration to 60mph is a little tardier at 15.3 seconds, but this gives little clue as to the satisfying nature of the Duratorq engine's mid range pull. The in-gear acceleration times give a more accurate representation of the car's punch, and here the scores are reversed, the diesel car comfortably acing its petrol counterpart. That's perhaps not surprising, given that the midrange is where the turbocharger really gets to work, and what's also equally predictable is the way the diesel car excels in terms of fuel consumption. What's surprising are the raw figures. The combined fuel economy figure of 64.2mpg allows the Fusion 1.4 TDCi to travel 634 miles between top ups, whilst the carbon dioxide emissions are a virtuous 122 grammes per kilometre. The Fusion has lately been revised, with restyling for the bumpers and grille, revised headlamps and tail lamps, thicker body side mouldings and body coloured handles and mirrors on selected models. Inside, a redesign concentrates on improving the feeling of quality and space. Highlights include a smarter fascia with easier to read instruments and a soft-feel upper section to the instrument panel. It's certainly a big improvement on the cheap-feeling plastic of the original model. For something aimed so deliberately at the young and image-conscious, the Fusion pays more than mere lip service to mundane criteria like practicality and comfort. There's masses of passenger space with a roof that's almost gratuitously high, giving an overall impression of airy expanse. Ford seem to have missed a trick in not building in more MPV-style tricks however, the fixed airline-style table on the folded front passenger seat back being about the only nod in this direction. The rear seats neither slide, swivel nor detach and the boot lacks hooks or a two-piece tailgate. Still, the car can carry an impressive 337 litres and comes equipped with a cargo net and split/fold rear seats, so it gets most of the basics right. That theme carries on throughout the cabin, which is functional, workmanlike but not endowed with any great flair. The Fusion 1.4 TDCi is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a big, square body. It's a mini-MPV without much MPV-style design trickery. It's elevated like a compact 4x4 but without all wheel drive mechanicals. For a car with such a promising foundation, the Fusion 1.4 TDCi is irritatingly less than the sum of its parts. What does it offer over the excellent Fiesta 1.4 TDCi? A little extra space and a better view. If this is worth the premium, go right ahead. Despite the lofty vantage, many will struggle to see the point. But either way, your Ford dealer stands a good chance of winning your cheque.

Facts at a Glance

Facts At A Glance CAR: Ford Fusion 1.4 TDCi PRICES: £13,695-£14,295 - on the road INSURANCE GROUP: 5 CO2 EMISSIONS: 122g/km PERFORMANCE: 0-60mph 15.3s / Max Speed 98mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 64.2mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front and side airbags WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/height 4020/1708/1503mm

The chunky looks of Ford's Fusion have a 4x4 feel - but this is a 2WD car only. The high-sided body has something of an MPV-look to it - but the seating inside is quite conventional. As a result, you may find the Fusion a difficult concept to pin down, if an appealing one in 1.4 TDCi form as tested here. A supersized previous generation Fiesta would be a simple summary of its appeal, but at around £13,500 for the entry level Fusion 1.4 TDCi Style+, you'll need to pay a good deal more than an additional 50p (a la McDonalds) to go large. For those that really want to differentiate, a Zetec version can also be ordered or you can upgrade to the 90bhp 1.6-litre TDCi engine. When driven back to back with the 1.4-litre petrol powerplant, the diesel version is infinitely more desirable, the additional muscularity of the powerplant making those annoying downchanges on long uphill stretches virtually superfluous. The acceleration to 60mph is a little tardier at 15.3 seconds, but this gives little clue as to the satisfying nature of the Duratorq engine's mid range pull. Is this car worth the premium over an equivalent Fiesta. Lifestyle seekers will form an orderly queue and say 'yes'. The Fusion has lately been revised, with restyling for the bumpers and grille, revised headlamps and tail lamps, thicker body side mouldings and body coloured handles and mirrors on selected models. Inside, a redesign concentrates on improving the feeling of quality and space. Highlights include a smarter fascia with easier to read instruments and a soft-feel upper section to the instrument panel. It's certainly a big improvement on the cheap-feeling plastic of the original model.

The chunky looks of Ford's Fusion have a 4x4 feel - but this is a 2WD car only. The high-sided body has something of an MPV-look to it - but the seating inside is quite conventional. As a result, you may find the Fusion a difficult concept to pin down, if an appealing one in 1.4 TDCi form as tested here. A supersized previous generation Fiesta would be a simple summary of its appeal, but at around £13,500 for the entry level Fusion 1.4 TDCi Style+, you'll need to pay a good deal more than an additional 50p (a la McDonalds) to go large. For those that really want to differentiate, a Zetec version can also be ordered or you can upgrade to the 90bhp 1.6-litre TDCi engine. When driven back to back with the 1.4-litre petrol powerplant, the diesel version is infinitely more desirable, the additional muscularity of the powerplant making those annoying downchanges on long uphill stretches virtually superfluous. The acceleration to 60mph is a little tardier at 15.3 seconds, but this gives little clue as to the satisfying nature of the Duratorq engine's mid range pull. The in-gear acceleration times give a more accurate representation of the car's punch, and here the scores are reversed, the diesel car comfortably acing its petrol counterpart. That's perhaps not surprising, given that the midrange is where the turbocharger really gets to work, and what's also equally predictable is the way the diesel car excels in terms of fuel consumption. What's surprising are the raw figures. The combined fuel economy figure of 64.2mpg allows the Fusion 1.4 TDCi to travel 634 miles between top ups, whilst the carbon dioxide emissions are a virtuous 122 grammes per kilometre. For something aimed so deliberately at the young and image-conscious, the Fusion pays more than mere lip service to mundane criteria like practicality and comfort. There's masses of passenger space with a roof that's almost gratuitously high, giving an overall impression of airy expanse. Ford seem to have missed a trick in not building in more MPV-style tricks however, the fixed airline-style table on the folded front passenger seat back being about the only nod in this direction. The rear seats neither slide, swivel nor detach and the boot lacks hooks or a two-piece tailgate. Still, the car can carry an impressive 337 litres and comes equipped with a cargo net and split/fold rear seats, so it gets most of the basics right. That theme carries on throughout the cabin, which is functional, workmanlike but not endowed with any great flair. The Fusion 1.4 TDCi is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a big, square body. It's a mini-MPV without much MPV-style design trickery. It's elevated like a compact 4x4 but without all wheel drive mechanicals. For a car with such a promising foundation, the Fusion 1.4 TDCi is irritatingly less than the sum of its parts. What does it offer over the excellent Fiesta 1.4 TDCi? A little extra space and a better view. If this is worth the premium, go right ahead. Despite the lofty vantage, many will struggle to see the point. But either way, your Ford dealer stands a good chance of winning your cheque. The Fusion has lately been revised, with restyling for the bumpers and grille, revised headlamps and tail lamps, thicker body side mouldings and body coloured handles and mirrors on selected models. Inside, a redesign concentrates on improving the feeling of quality and space. Highlights include a smarter fascia with easier to read instruments and a soft-feel upper section to the instrument panel. It's certainly a big improvement on the cheap-feeling plastic of the original model.

Scores
Performance 5
Handling 8
Comfort 7
Space 8
Styling 7
Build 6
Value 8
Equipment 7
Economy 8
Depreciation 6
Insurance 7
Total 77

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