Defending the average is much harder than defending the terrible. Some cars are just so bad, they’re good and manage to attract a loyal and devoted following. The European Ford Fusion, on the other hand, is the type of car that receives more of a collective shrug. The tall Fiesta is a kind of middling vehicle, owned by the more mature driver who appreciates its fuel economy, the easy access and low boot lip.
Hardly the stuff dreams are made of.
For the past nine months I have been the proud owner of a 2002 Ford Fusion, built at a time when quality control at the Cologne factory wasn’t at its best. Some patchy paintwork and gaping panel gaps are testament to that. It hasn’t been cheap to run, although the 1.6-litre Duratec petrol has achieved an average real-world economy of 42mpg (take note, Ecoboost fans). This 100,000-mile Fusion has needed a variety of bearings, brake cylinders and – most expensive of all – an all too common front spring failure.
But I write in appreciation of this little car that has more character than you’d imagine, being only the second car I’ve owned that has got its own pet name. I’ve christened it ‘Fred’, a name that seems to suit its unpretentious nature. With 100bhp on tap it nips along quite merrily, and is surprisingly good on the motorway, despite the inevitable wind noise from its upright shape. That said, the Fusion is far from being a B-road blaster and it probably deserves its place on another PetrolBlog list…
However, it does have a lot of space for its size and with the rear seats laying flat (and the front passenger seat also pushed forward), you can transport long pieces of wood from B&Q that a Ford Focus would baulk at. Certainly, it is underrated by families with small children as an all-purpose load-lugger that’s easy to park in the urban jungle with excellent all-round vision, you never need to guess where the corners are on this square box. I quite like its mini-MPV looks, though I appreciate I might be in a minority on that one.
It’s also well specced, with my top of the range ‘3’ model having heated front screen, air conditioning, remote boot release, comfortable seats, front fogs, electric mirrors, remote central locking… not bad for a small motor from 2002. I’m pleased to say all of the aforementioned goodies still work on my 13-year-old model. Good God, later versions had the option of a roof mounted DVD player. Can you get that in a Honda Jazz? (Ok, I haven’t checked…)
In my opinion – and speaking as an owner – the Ford Fusion represents a good used buy. The engines are well proven, but I would be looking for an immaculate service history where all the invoices are neatly arranged in plastic folders from a main dealer. It is a simple car, so the home mechanic may have left their mark. I’d avoid the Durashift automatic-attached-to-a-manual, as word on the Ford forum street is that they can be a real pig should things go wrong.
The Fusion managed to survive a full 10 years in production (much longer than the Mk6 Fiesta from which it was spawned) and was improved from 2005 when the ‘lifestyle’ marketing boys really got it together. A range of smarter colours, a better quality dashboard, neater bumpers and flasher wheels served to heighten the appeal.
The facelift was style over substance, but an improvement nonetheless. But I don’t think it ever broke through into the aspirational yoof market as Ford had originally hoped (even with the almost laughable plastic box ‘activity console‘).
And so, the Fusion might be a missed opportunity – where was the four-wheel drive option? Why didn’t Ford consider beefing up the front suspension a bit more and fitting the 1.8 or 2.0-litre Zetec to give it more punch? In the end, they sold enough not to bother, with the risible two-tone Pursuit model being the only significant special edition.
Despite it all though, I think the Fusion is a bit PetrolBloggy. Although it is ubiquitous now, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Generally speaking they aren’t well cared for, so will start disappearing shortly. In a decade or so, PetrolBlog will be posting articles on low mileage examples owned by chaps in their 80s in coastal towns they forgot to close down. And kids enjoying a Coldplay revival will remember their grandads driving them down to Morrisons at the weekend and want to get one. Put yours in storage now…