A Fusion of delights

off-my-wheelsThe new Fusion, one of the most technologically advanced cars Ford has yet brought here, is full of surprises.

The Fusion is great to look at too. It has a low roof, a sport coupe profile and is far from the three-box design associated with mid-size sedans. it  attracted a great deal of attention when I left in a crowded car park at a shopping centre. “It has been sculpted to convey visual lightness,” Ford said.

I’m not sure about the mid-size description because the Fusion is a big car: the boot is enormous and two adults, could probably fit into it with ease.

The Ford Fusion: full of surprises. Picture: QuickPic
The Ford Fusion: full of surprises. Picture: QuickPic

Everything about the Fusion speaks of excellence and the test car was the flagship of the range, the 2.0 TDCi Titanium Powershift.  However, the only identification is the nameplate that says Fusion: it doesn’t give any indication that it is the Titanium so you lose bragging rights.

The Fusion is a delight to drive, you just glide along, even on the bumpy roads I travelled where construction work was being carried out. Steering is light with plenty of feedback; cornering is good, even at speed.

Everything is focused on driver comfort.That’s not to say the passengers have been forgotten. You can heat the rear seats from a panel at the back, but you just have to issue a command and they heat up themselves. There’s headroom galore and lots of space for people to stretch their legs and arms.

The six-speed auto shift is silky smooth but if you want to exert yourself, you can play with the F-1 gear paddle changer situated on the steering column.

The turbodiesel is exceptionally quiet. Just a happy rumble when you press the start button. There is no turbo lag and when you’re on the road it’s hard to believe it’s a diesel.

Build quality gets a 10: it is assembled in Valencia, Spain, and the only rattle  I heard was the sound of my spectacle case rolling around in one of the cup holders where I had put it. The cabin is so quiet, you can have a conversation with the back seat passengers without having to yell.

Inside, a sleek, wrap-around centre console design adds to the sporty, cockpit-like feel, and the centre console is accessible to both the driver and the front seat passenger – as is the large, open flow-through storage bin in front of the gear selector. Chrome surrounds and accents are on the air-vents and soft touch controls.  And it all smacks of quality.

The 10-inch digital-analogue instrument display is user friendly and  it operates the phone and music, among others, through the Sinc 2 voice technology. Just say what you want and it does it.

You can also make hands-free mobile calls by saying call, instead of phone. You can even use voice commands to control the aircon.

Here are a few features that will make your life as a driver much easier – and safer.

  • Detecting hazards: A head-up display warns of a potential collision and automatically applies the brakes if you ignore the warnings.
  • Distance Indication informs the driver of the time gap to the vehicle ahead. Adaptive Cruise Control automatically maintains a chosen distance from the vehicle ahead.
  • Traffic Sign Recognition displays the latest speed limit and overtaking restrictions.
  • Using  MyKey technology you can programme various functions. You can prevent incoming phone calls ,  restrict the top speed; prevent deactivation of driver assistance and safety features; reduce the maximum volume of the audio system (a boon if you have teenagers in the family), and disable the system altogether if the driver and passengers are not using safety belts.
  • The  lane keeping system: a small camera behind the inside rearview mirror, looks down the road, monitoring lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the Fusion drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, the lane keeping aid will apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane position.

There is a lot more but these features work, I tried most of them.

Ford says this turbodiesel takes 8.6 sec to go from 0-100km/h. Top  speed is 225km/h and CO2 emissions are 124g/km while the combined-fuel consumption figure is 5.1 litres/100km. But that is under ideal test driving conditions. My figures were closer to 6 litres/100km, which is still very good.  And I encountered various driving conditions from my Milnerton base: a tail-end gridlock after an accident on the motorway; heavy traffic going to Cape Town International and back; “country” roads to Riebeek Kasteel and a Sunday drive to Stellenbosch.

The fourth generation Ford Fusion evolved out of the Mondeo. They weren’t a great success here but you still see a few of them on the roads.

Ford has, with the Fusion, thrown down the gauntlet to the Germans: BMW,  Audi and Mercedes Benz, and it could prove to be a game-changer for the iconic Blue Oval.

*The Fusion 2.0 TDCi Titanium Powershift has a price tag of  R449 900. Service intervals are at 15 000km.

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