– Interesting styling
– Cabin tech and safety
– Ride and handling
– Pricey with options
– Not particularly quick
– Fancy tech can be distracting
Rarely does a midsize sedan generate as much interest as this one. While the last Fusion came and went with a whimper in the Middle East, Ford raised the stakes in the midsize segment with their new-generation sedan, not least of which is due to its new styling.
Sporting a front-end that looks Aston Martin-esque if you squint, in the dark, during a sand storm, the latest Fusion looks like nothing else in its segment. The rear look is derived from the forgotten Mondeo, and the car generally looks handsome for it, but the side profile looks a bit bulky. It helps that most trim levels come with sizeable 17-inch alloys, with some even getting 18-inchers.
Inside, there’s a clutter-free cabin design with fair use of soft-touch materials over the dash and upper door trim as well as properly padded armrests and leatherette upholstery in our top-spec tester. There’s also a fair amount of hard plastics, but they’re largely relegated to below-chest-level panels.
It’s fairly spacious, even in terms of rear legroom and headroom, but rivals from Honda and Toyota offer slightly more rear space. Still, that’s only a problem if you have overly tall relatives riding regularly, and the boot is massive. There’s also the obligatory numbers of open cup-holders, door pockets and seat-back slots, as well as a large open cubby ahead of the gear-shifter.
The dash design is clutter-free because all the controls are consigned to the good-sized touchscreen for the SYNC multimedia system and climate-control, the touch-button panel below it for redundant stereo and a/c controls, and tumorous clusters of buttons on either side of the steering wheel to control dual full-colour LCD screens on either side of the speedometer as well as the stereo and a/c. Yes, we felt as overwhelmed as you did after reading all that, but it gets easier over time to use, even if no more simpler. The resistive touchscreen and touch buttons are a bit distracting while driving, but the steering-wheel buttons and much-improved voice controls offer a welcome alternative, even if a bit tedious to operate. Interestingly, the gauge-cluster LCDs have an Arabic option. In an odd move, the navigation system is a dealer-installed aftermarket setup that uses the same central touchscreen, but doesn’t match the look and feel of the SYNC system.
The Sony stereo and dual-zone auto a/c themselves are both pretty good performers. Further available features include a basic sunroof, rear a/c vents, fog lamps, USB/AUX ports, rear camera, Bluetooth, capless fuel-filler, electric parking brake, keyless unlocking with a numeric keypad, and all the usual power accessories. And there’s tons of safety features, including standard front, side and curtain airbags, and options such as blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warning and prevention systems, and class-exclusive rear inflatable seat-belts. Heck, it can even park itself at the press of a button. All that, and yet our top-spec test car had only basic keyless entry, simple cruise control rather than adaptive, and no HID headlight option.
The Fusion’s standard engine is a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder making 175 hp at 6000 rpm and 237 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm, fairly competitive figures, but it has to haul around 1558 kg of mass, likely due to Ford’s emphasis on solid safety-related elements. As such, the Fusion is slightly heavier and therefore slightly slower than its main Japanese rivals, netting a time of 10.4 seconds in our 0-100 kph test back in July. It’s lazy off the line, but picks up speed with more urgency once the revs get going, helped along by the 6-speed automatic.
Our moderately-aggressive driving netted a fuel consumption figure of 12.4 litres/100 km, no more than a Camry driven in a similar manner. A calmer driving style should garner better results. But we actually loved hustling this car around corners, given its rather good suspension tuning and respectable steering feel. The wheel firms up as speeds rise, making it easier to take advantage of the grippy 235/50 tyres wrapping those 17-inch wheels. There’s minor understeer at the limit, partly due to the standard stability control nannies, and there’s never any untoward tail-out behaviour if you overdo it, making for a very neutral and safe drive. Even the ABS-assisted disc brakes are decent, with a fair amount of pedal feel.
When not hustling, the Fusion is an easy car to drive. The steering lightens up at low speeds in city-driving while offering firmer stability at highway pace, with a class-leading quiet ride that’s also very smooth, if occasionally feeling a wee bit floaty on undulations. We’d go as far as to say it can match up with a Lexus ES in terms of comfort.
Okay, so the new Ford Fusion is not the best midsize sedan ever. It’s not quite quick enough to take top honours, and neither is it setting any records in terms of space. However, it is spacious enough for most purposes, handles well and to top it off, also happens to be the quietest, safest and techiest car in its class by a long shot. It’s somewhat expensive with the all the options we spoke of in our test car. But the lower-spec variants are still well-loaded, and with pricing that falls bang in the middle of its peers, the Fusion is worthy of being among the top choices on your list, if only because it looks like an Aston Martin. Sort of.
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