RAC

Ford Fusion range

Introduction

Ford's Fusion Offers A Little Extra For Those Families That Have Grown Out Of A Fiesta. June Neary Reports

Will It Suit Me?

At first I was a little baffled as to what a Ford Fusion actually was. It was only when it pulled onto my driveway that I realised that what I'd at first thought were five-door Fiestas were in fact something different altogether. The two cars do look broadly similar but the fusion offers a bit more room and a slightly more elevated driving position. It's very inoffensive and, if anything, could use a little more attitude. That said, the Fusion isn't the sort of car that will provoke a negative reaction. Call it bland if you like, but it's certainly versatile.

Practicalities

One of the benefits of getting press demonstrator vehicles is that you're usually treated to the version with all the bells and whistles included. Ford didn't disappoint in this instance. Instantly identifiable by its big 16-inch alloy wheels and body styling kit, the Fusion Plus looks a little more upmarket than most Fusions. The silver mesh front grille looks a bit different and the car's lower stance removes the fresh air visible in the standard car's wheelarches. There's also what Ford dub a "rear seat activity console' which is probably the most flowery term for a storage bin (10.7 litres) we've yet heard. Granted, it also contains an auxiliary power outlet so that yet more electronic gizmos can be run from the back seats. There are also four new stowage pockets for small bits and bobs: one on the front edge of the driver's seat cushion, one on the inner face of the driver's seat backrest and one on each corner of the rear seat cushions. which may well raise some eyebrows should an officer of HM Customs take a good look around the interior of your vehicle. The interior fabrics are a little plusher and the loadspace carpet features some integrated protective runners. The high seating position gives a commanding view of the road ahead and there's a wonderful sense of airiness about the cabin. As well as offering the usual split/fold rear seats, the Fusion also allows the front passenger seat and the rear seats to fold flat, although the operation isn't as slick as in some rivals. Even with the seats in an upright position, the boot is impressive with a standard luggage volume of some 337 litres. Should you need to slide luggage out from the rear, Ford have thoughtfully designed the Fusion with no rear loading lip. The elevated seating position also allows for extra stowage space under the passenger seats, whilst the fascia features a flip-top bin like the Galaxy whilst the main instruments are housed in a neat oval binnacle.

Behind the Wheel

Four engine choices are offered, the popular 1.4-litre TDCi common rail turbodiesel that generates 67bhp, a more powerful 90bhp 1.6-litre TDCi, or a pair of 16v petrol units - a 1.4-litre powerplant that's good for 79bhp or a 99bhp 1.6-litre engine. Should you want to expend less effort in the city, a 'clutchless' Durashift version is also available. In designing the Fusion for urban families, a number of key criteria had to be met. These elements included a higher driving position to give good all round visibility, body height and wheel designs optimised for ground clearance and ride comfort so that Fusion drivers can easily shrug off kerbs, speed humps and the worst urban potholes. So-called 'cubed-out' architecture maximises seating space while the same philosophy maximises the luggage space by providing a squared-off rear header and a flat load floor. That driving position is a full 75mm higher than you'd find in a Fiesta and it's longer but slightly narrower too. This slightly elevated position is a benefit to those women who aren't particularly tall. The bumpers and rubbing strips followed intensive research into how cars become damaged in the urban environment. Should you contrive to take the car's name somewhat literally and meld it with something else, it's good to know that you've an Intelligent Protection System that will intervene with dual stage front air bags that sense the type and severity of the impact. Side airbags are available for front seat passengers and optional curtain bags provide side-impact head protection.

Value For Money

Prices run between £10,645 and £13,645. Should you want to expend less effort in the city, a 'clutchless' Durashift version is also available. Trim levels run between Style and Zetec although a luxury Fusion Plus can be ordered that includes a CD autochanger, bigger alloy wheels and a subtle styling kit. Model for model, Fusions tend to cost around £1,500 more than an equivalent five-door Fiesta. This represents quite a premium and almost punts Fusion prices into Focus territory. In other words, you've got to want one.

Could I Live With One?

Of course I could. Whether I would want to fork out my own money on a Fusion is a completely different matter. It's a very versatile little car but lacks the 'premium' feel of the Focus. Despite the generous equipment levels of the Fusion+ model, the interior trim quality never really feels particularly high end. I left the Fusion in two minds. While I liked the way it drove and what it offered, there's very little in the way of wow factor. In a crammed marketplace, the Fusion blends in a little too well.

Ford has tried hard to push the Fusion as something a little different but the message hasn't really hit home. It has no more seats than a Fiesta, has no four-wheel drive mechanicals to set it apart and given that the Fiesta always was a roomy supermini, the requirement for even more space is lost on many, especially as the Focus is so tempting for those with a little extra cash to spend. None of this makes the Fusion a bad car - far from it. It's just a car that has struggled to justify its existence in a tough and overcrowded marketplace. If you like the Fiesta but need some more carrying capacity, the Fusion certainly won't disappoint. As with many cars which don't build up a big following, the less money spent is usually the wisest choice and the 1.4-litre Climate models appear the smart picks. The Fusion is a car that's right for someone. You just need to be a little different.

Ford has tried hard to push the Fusion as something a little different but the message hasn't really hit home. It has no more seats than a Fiesta, has no four-wheel drive mechanicals to set it apart and given that the Fiesta always was a roomy supermini, the requirement for even more space is lost on many, especially as the Focus is so tempting for those with a little extra cash to spend. None of this makes the Fusion a bad car - far from it. It's just a car that has struggled to justify its existence in a tough and overcrowded marketplace. Four engine choices are offered, two diesel engines and two petrol units. The popular 1.4-litre TDCi common rail turbodiesel generates 67bhp, while a more powerful 90bhp 1.6-litre TDCi looks good value. Then there's the pair of 16v petrol units - a 1.4-litre powerplant that's good for 79bhp or a 99bhp 1.6-litre engine. Driving dynamics do justice to Ford's hyperbole and act as a clear yardstick for the rest of the sector. Should you want to expend less effort in the city, a 'clutchless' Durashift version is also available. If you like the Fiesta but need some more carrying capacity, the Fusion certainly won't disappoint. As with many cars which don't build up a big following, the less money spent is usually the wisest choice and the 1.4-litre Climate models appear the smart picks. The Fusion is a car that's right for someone. You just need to be a little different.

Ford has tried hard to push the Fusion as something a little different but the message hasn't really hit home. It has no more seats than a Fiesta, has no four-wheel drive mechanicals to set it apart and given that the Fiesta always was a roomy supermini, the requirement for even more space is lost on many, especially as the Focus is so tempting for those with a little extra cash to spend. None of this makes the Fusion a bad car - far from it. It's just a car that has struggled to justify its existence in a tough and overcrowded marketplace. Four engine choices are offered, two diesel engines and two petrol units. The popular 1.4-litre TDCi common rail turbodiesel generates 67bhp, while a more powerful 90bhp 1.6-litre TDCi looks good value. Then there's the pair of 16v petrol units - a 1.4-litre powerplant that's good for 79bhp or a 99bhp 1.6-litre engine. Driving dynamics do justice to Ford's hyperbole and act as a clear yardstick for the rest of the sector. Should you want to expend less effort in the city, a 'clutchless' Durashift version is also available. PRICES: £12,995-£15,495 - on the road There's a choice of 1.4 and 1.6 petrol and diesel engines spread across three main trim levels - Style +, Zetec and Titanium. Despite still having a front end bluffer than the north section of the Eiger, the Fusion isn't really a go-anywhere vehicle. Built on the same front-wheel drive underpinnings as the old Fiesta, it is in some respects a latter day incarnation of the Matra Rancho - and if you remember one of those, you really are an anorak. Suffice it to say that it supplied the go-anywhere looks without the need for the expensive go-anywhere hardware that would normally accompany them. If you like the Fiesta but need some more carrying capacity, the Fusion certainly won't disappoint. As with many cars which don't build up a big following, the less money spent is usually the wisest choice and the 1.4-litre Climate models appear the smart picks. The Fusion is a car that's right for someone. You just need to be a little different.

Scores
Performance 6
Handling 8
Comfort 7
Space 6
Styling 7
Build 6
Value 7
Equipment 7
Economy 6
Depreciation 5
Insurance 7
Total 72

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