Car Test   R0318
 
March 2003
  Ford Fusion
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 3 1.6
Nowadays, buyers of smaller hatchbacks are spoilt for choice. Conventional superminis (of which the Fiesta is a classic example) are now challenged not only by elongated estate versions, such as the Skoda Fabia, but also by taller hatchbacks with an MPV-style stance. Most remain faithful to folding but non-removable back seats and are about four metres long, but they manage to find more interior space and offer easier access, thanks to their taller build.
  
   The Fusion is Fordís attempt to capture a significant slice of this market. It certainly gets off to a good start. Compared with Fiesta, it offers more room for rear passengers and an extra 2.4cu ft luggage (with no load sill). It also boasts a loftier Ďin commandí driving position from a seat that supports well, despite the absence of lumbar adjustment. Thereís no problem when parking because of the bodyís Ďcubed out architectureí, as Ford puts it, with a large glass area giving unobstructed all-round vision Ė optional rear parking sensors arenít essential. We think that women, in particular, will like the driving position.
  
   Ford has been a bit mean with oddments spaces, but thereís a flip-top storage compartment high in the facia, and the passengerís seat cushion can be raised to reveal a commodious hidey-hole. The backrest also folds forward to give a firm, flat surface, as well as providing extra long stowage.
  
   Thereís nothing clever Ė Meriva or Jazz style Ė about the back seats. Folding the 60/40 divided cushions and backrests simply gives a stepped, but usefully long load deck which is nicely trimmed, even under the seats. (Throughout the cabin, however, hard plastic panelling prevails.) Rear access is gained through the high-lifting tailgate and loading is simplified by the low floor. All this results in a spacious yet still compact small car thatís just 10cm longer than Fiesta and costs about £1000 more.
  
   The Fusionís higher-set seats not only make it easier to make a dignified entry and exit, but also result in good rear legroom and thigh support. Indeed, itís a comfortable back seat and no hardship if you have to sit in the centre. Headroom all round is generous, too.
  
   Unchanged 1.4-litre Fiesta engines (both petrol and diesel) work hard to cope with the Fusionís extra weight and bluffer shape Ė even before you fill the additional space inside. This 1.6-litre, however, is a heroic performer. It actually feels (and sounds) rather sporty Ė quick off the mark and with a rev-happy willingness up through the slick-shifting gearbox. Itís equally happy to potter the lanes, though, or give easy-going, economical 70mph cruising.
  
   Firm suspension and alert steering continue the Fusionís somewhat incongruously sporty theme, except that the taller build gives it more cornering tilt if youíre pressing on; ĎLike a Fiesta on high heelsí, commented one of our team. Itís a pity the ride isnít a bit more supple. Even on reasonable smooth roads the car fidgets, and its fretfulness develops a harsher edge over secondary surfaces.
  
   The brakes feel fine in ordinary use, but demand really heavy footwork to give their best stop; at least it ensures against skidding if you donít pay extra for ABS.
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Space/practicality
Security, theft of  not available
theft from  not available
LIKES ...
  • rear head restraints recess flush with backrest
  • radio/CD controls big and bold
  • deep visors, each with a shielded mirror
  • delayed 'anti-dribble' wipe after screenwash/wipe
  • red tags warn that rear seatbacks not latched
and GRIPES
  • no space for left foot beside clutch pedal
  • heater/air-con controls low, warning lights tiny
  • remote hi-fi controls a long finger-stretch away
  • scuff-prone sills and rear bumper top
  • cheap hardboard panel over spare wheel
VERDICT
Thereís nothing wrong with the Fusion concept Ė a taller, roomier Fiesta sounds like a sensible idea for both youngster-encumbered mothers and less-spry oldies. In practice, however, itís let down by its lack of seating versatility. A big player like Ford should have moved the game on further than the accommodation features on offer here. But perhaps that would mean Fusion treading on the toes of the forthcoming Focus-based C-Max midi-MPV. Itís good, but not good enough to take top slot.


SPECIFICATION
engine 1596cc, 4-cylinder, petrol; 100bhp at 6000rpm, 108lb ft at 4000rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 16 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 21.6mph/1000rpm in 5th, 17.3 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs, anti-roll bar
rear: torsion beam axle, coil springs and telescopic dampers
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 3.3 turns lock-to-lock; 10.4m diameter turning circle between kerbs (17.0m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear, with optional electronic ABS and brake force distribution on test car   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 195/60R15T tyres (Continental EcoContact EP on test car); temporary-use steel spare

THE FUSION RANGE
size and type mid-priced, supermini-sized, MPV-style estate car   trim levels 1, 2, 3 (Plus due summer 2003)
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.4 litre/80bhp, 4/1.6/100
diesel: 4/1.4/68
  drive 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive (5-speed Durashift EST autoshift synchromesh transmission optional with 1.4 petrol)


HOW THE FUSION 1.6 COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Ford Fusion 1.6 4/1596/100 3250 11.1 18.7/27.9 38/157 45/26 108 106/72 3.3/10.4 402
CitroŽn Multispace 1.6 4/1587/110 3240 11.5 23.3/32.7 37.5/175 27/31 107 102/77 3.2/11.3 411
Fiat Multipla 1.6 4/1581/103 3780 12.7 20.6/29.2 30/205 20/27.5 106 114/83 2.8/11.1 399
Hyundai Matrix 1.6 4/1599/102 3500 13.1 21.5/32.5 33/191 13/27.5 107 105/80 3.2/10.65 403
Mitsubishi Space Star 1.8 4/1834/121 3150 10.6 20.4/27.1 38/171 18/27.5 109 103/75 3.1/10.0 403
Renault Kangoo 1.4 8v 4/1390/75 3630 15.4 20.7/30.3 37/188 23/30 104 102/71 3.4/10.7 400
 


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CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS
*
*
 
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HANDLING AND STEERING
*
Seat height and wheel tilt settings give comfortable, commanding driving position with convenient controls and a superb gearshift. Main dials clear, but view of tiny minor gauges awful. All-round vision excellent.
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Higher build gives rather 'top heavy' feel if sudden swerves made with light, alert steering. Feels responsive, though, with great grip, but directionally nervous on secondary surfaces at speed.
*
 
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COMFORT
*
Firm, fidgety B-road ride improves somewhat at main road pace. Engine rowdy when revved, but quiet cruiser, though tyres noisy on coarse surfaces. Generous back seat space. Commendable heating/air-con up front.
*



OVERTAKING ABILITY
Rev-happy 1.6 sounds rortily sporty when pressed, with surprisingly swift performance to go with it; super gearchange adds to the fun. But engine docile, too, happily contending with school and supermarket runs.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.4 9.3 13.7
  30-50mph 4.1 9.1 13.0
  40-60mph 5.4 9.3 13.8
  50-70mph 7.0 9.6 14.9
  30-70mph 11.1 18.7 27.9
  max speed in each gear (* using 6200rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      32      53      79      107      110 (5100rpm)


FUEL ECONOMY
Ford's figures optimistic - our 38mpg overall is a good result, though, with 1.4 version unlikely to be better. Reasonable range between unfraught fill-ups via key-operated flap - mind the paintwork.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (heavy traffic) 28
    rural (gentle driving) 45
    overall mpg 38
    realistic tank capacity/range 39/325
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 31.4/53.3/42.8
    CO2 emissions 157g/km
    car tax band C


SAFETY  
Brakes are normally fine, but excessive pedal load required to achieve best stop and invoke (optional) ABS. Other options include stability control and rear/side curtain airbags plus dual-stage front 'bags.
    EURO NCAP RATINGS
 
  Fusion not yet tested
 
    BRAKES
 
  from 50mph (with optional ABS)
 
This model has not yet been
tested by EURO NCAP
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     36m
sudden 45kg     26m best stop
+ 4kg ie 49kg     26m
 
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.



SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
No clever seat tricks; in fact, front seats must be slid forward (temporarily) to fold back seats. This gives big load space but with a step in the flat floor(s). Nearside front seatback folds to cater for long items.
  in centimetres (5-door MPV-style estate)
  outside
  length 402
  width - including mirrors 196
    - mirrors folded 177
  height (no roof bars) 149
  load sill height (inside/outside) 2/53
  steering
  turns lock-to-lock 3.3
  turning circle (metres) 10.4
   
  easy to park/garage?
  inside
  front - legroom 87-108
    - headroom 95-101ß
  rear - typical legroom 106
    - typical kneeroom 72
    - headroom 95
    - hiproom 127
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
412/14.5
  load length 66-132#
  load length to facia 236
  load width 99-130
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 57/87
ß no sunroof  # rear seat folded


SECURITY  
Fusion 3 comes with alarm, deadlocks, selectable one-door/all-doors opening and illuminated entry. No seatback locks mean poor load area security from interior. No glovebox lock, either. Group 6 insurance.
FEATURES/CONVENIENCE
NCSR RATINGS
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
deadlocks  
alarm (perimeter)   
self-locking (static + drive off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of" not available
 
NCSR - "theft from" not available
 
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit www.thatcham.org for more details
© The Automobile Association Limited 2014