For a long time German sport sedans have been the ultimate in handling and performance for those drivers who yearn for such in a four or five passenger car. On the domestic scene for well over a decade now, Cadillac has proven they provide some viable options. Now Ford has planted a turbocharged V6 into its popular Fusion model that will easily take on other market competitors.
The 2017 Fusion Sport model with a 2.7 litre EcoBoost V6 paired to a specially tuned six-speed automatic transmission. The 325 horses this engine puts out are more than in some other sedans; Japanese or German.
The Sport has some other nice touches; blacked-out mesh grille, 19-inch grey wheels, a rear spoiler, dual-twin exhaust pipes and a continuously controlled damping suspension: all this and a lot more starting at $42,288. You also get a comprehensive number of safety features including blind spot information with cross-traffic alert and lane keeping system. The entry-level model Fusion S starts at $20,188. A Platinum model has been added this year, which slots above the Titanium and under the Sport.
But it's the power of the 2.7 V6 and the AWD that sets the Sport apart from competitors like the Mazda 6, Chevrolet Malibu and Honda Accord. Perhaps 325 horsepower isn't enough for some drivers. But Ford's turbo V6 delivers instant power and torque (380 lb-ft) with the AWD providing tenacious grip to the pavement. Yes, that was me in the Silver Fusion peeling away from the stop lights a few months ago. I raced a few drivers whose jaws likely dropped as my test car tore away leaving them far behind. But it's not all about the engine.
What makes it all happen very quickly is the console-mounted rotary shifter with an S button, which you push for a more exciting driving experience, shall I say. Throttle response sharpens. The exhaust soundtrack gets macho, steering effort rises, the adaptive dampers tighten and the transmission shift program gets a little more aggressive. The transmission software will hold gears through corners and match revs during braking for a tight turn.
The Sport is a well-rounded package. The six-speed automatic is a heavy duty unit controlled by paddles at the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The computer-controlled all-wheel drive as I found out certainly does its job well. The system consists of the usual front-drive transaxle, a longitudinal driveshaft and a rear differential engaged on demand by a clutch. The AWD is a must because under hard throttle the power would spin the tires into a cloud of dark smoke.
Driving in a more responsible manner I quickly appreciated the comfortable seats and the action of the dampers as they dealt with varying road surfaces. Definitely a very good long distance car with proper instrumentation, although I'd like the tach to be a more prominent instrument. Unfortunately the interior trim is only available in charcoal grey. But the Sport dĂ©cor provides leather, suede, contrasting stitching and various material accents to cheer it up. The back seat can actually hold three adults with the centre passenger sitting in comfort. The optional Sync 3 and Sync Connect infotainment systems are smarter than the previous versions and offer both Android and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
The trunk is spacious and fit and finish top notch as you would expect. Fuel consumption can be very good if you don't put your foot in to the throttle too often. Around town with occasionally juvenile behaviour I managed just under 12L/100km. I took one highway trip and kept the speed at 100 km/h resulting in an average 9L/100km. That was just me aboard, with no luggage and tires at proper pressure.
The Fusion has been one of Ford's best engineered and nicest looking sedans for the past decade. I'm happy to see they now have a true sport sedan model in the lineup.
Garry Melnyk is a St. Albert resident and lifelong car buff who has written about new cars and trucks for radio and print publications since the '70s.