The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Ford Fusion is an ageing Fiesta offshoot that is starting to look very dated but it’s still spacious, surprisingly good to drive and reasonably cheap to buy. But it’s not too refined.
Reasons to buy:
- Spacious interior
- Handles well
- Relatively cheap to buy
How good does it look?
This is one of the most disappointing aspects of the Ford Fusion as the exterior design looks so old-fashioned. It’s partly familiarity and partly the fact that exterior design has moved on since 2002. The bland nose and boxy lines don’t look at all dynamic, and while some of the higher spec editions look a bit less dull, they look very much like what they are – an old design that’s been tarted up a little to make it look a bit more modern. But without much success.
What's the interior like?
The Fusion’s dash looks almost as dated as its exterior, but not quite, thanks to a facelift in 2005. Simply laid out and with everything being within easy reach, the Fusion’s fascia works well but the design isn’t very inspiring, although it is clear. Getting comfortable is easy enough as the seats are well-shaped and supportive, while the elevated seating position gives good visibility of the road ahead. But the steering wheel adjusts for height only, so if you’re especially short or tall you might not get comfortable quite so easily.
How practical is it?
It’s good and bad news here. While the Fusion offers a bit of extra practicality over the previous generation Ford Fiesta on which it’s based, it doesn’t offer that much more, and the cabin isn’t as versatile as it should be. The boot can accommodate 337 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,175 litres with them folded – buy a Citroen C3 Picasso instead and the equivalent figures are 385 and 1,506 litres. Apart from the rear seats being split 60/40, they don’t do anything like slide or remove. As a result, you’re not much better off than with a current Fiesta – a far better car than the model on which the Fusion is based – with its 295 or 979 litres of stowage capacity.
What's it like to drive?
Ford is renowned for the great handling of its cars – in most cases its products lead the segment. The Fusion’s age shows here but it’s not a terrible car to drive, although the taller body doesn’t help when it comes to tackling bends with verve. Indeed there’s quite a lot of body roll if you push the Fusion hard through corners, but the benefit of the relatively soft suspension settings is a ride that’s surprisingly good.
How powerful is it?
None of the four engines available gives the Fusion a sporting edge, which should come as no surprise. There are petrol and diesel powerplants offered, in each case displacing either 1.4 or 1.6 litres. The smaller petrol unit is rather lacklustre with its 78bhp which gives a 101mph top speed and 0-62mph in 14 seconds. The 99bhp 1.6 is noticeably perkier with 111mph and 11.1 seconds – it’s just ahead of the 89bhp 1.6TDCi which can manage 109mph and 0-62mph in 12.9 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
The biggest cost with running a Ford is invariably the depreciation, which is why it’s essential that you get a reasonable discount on your Fusion. It helps that the list prices are reasonably low to start with – but you can reduce things further. Even the thirstiest Fusion, the 1.6-litre petrol, can manage 42.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 157g/km. The 1.4-litre reduces this to 154g/km with 43.5mpg but the diesels are – predictably – much better. Both of them are capable of 62.8mpg but the 1.6TDCi emits 119g/km whereas the 1.4TDCi is pegged at 120g/km.
How reliable is it?
Ford has a pretty good reputation for building reliable cars – at least with its newer models. The Fusion has a reasonable reputation for dependability, but its record isn’t completely clean. Problems can crop up with water getting into the engine bay while the Durashift transmission has proved weak.
How safe is it?
Despite its age, the Fusion has been crash tested by EuroNCAP. It carries a four-star rating, but that’s by the old system, which isn’t as stringent as the new one. While the structure is reasonably tough, there’s not a lot of safety kit fitted. There are anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, but you have to specify ESP (electronic stability programme) and traction control as part of an option package, and it’s not available with the automatic transmission. There are also only front airbags for those in the front – if you want side or curtain airbags you’ll have to pay extra. There’s also no deactivation switch for the passenger airbag and you don’t even get a head restraint on the rear centre seat.
How much equipment do I get?
Ford offers three trim levels on the Fusion, which are Style+, Zetec and Titanium. Go for the cheapest and you’ll get steel wheels, electrically heated and adjustable mirrors, a CD/tuner with auxiliary input, air-con, heated windscreen and electric front windows. Zetec trim brings 15-inch alloy wheels with locking nuts, plus extra bits of interior trim such as a driver’s seat arm rest. The range-topping Titanium has 16-inch alloys, privacy glass, automatic lights, remote audio controls and upgraded interior trim. Incidentally, Fusions come with a tyre sealant in the case of a puncture – if you want a spare wheel you’ll have to pay extra for it.
While it’s hard to recommend the Fusion over newer, more capable rivals, if you can get a good deal on one it’s worth considering. Reliability is good and so is the driving experience, while practicality isn’t bad. But most rivals are better.