Some people look at the 2013 Ford Fusion, think Aston Martin, which leads them directly to thinking about James Bond. And while there may be those in Ford design who would argue that the DB9 or other Aston was far from their thinking, it probably is a good thing for Ford if a whole bunch of middle-aged guys go from the front fascia of the Fusion to fantasies of being James Bond. . . .
Top: Ford. Bottom: Not a Ford.
But when I was driving the 2013 Fusion SE, I started thinking about another character, albeit a real one, although a person who has a certain larger-than-life image: Henry Ford. The original.
It strikes me that the Fusion SE—especially in the trim that I drove it, which includes cloth seats and six-speed manual transmission—is the kind of car that Henry would have liked the company to build. It is a car that is well-built, handsomely styled, and widely available because it is not priced well beyond the means of the average person, even though it seems as though it is a class or two above where it is. (Presumably Henry would recognize the need to be competitive in terms of styling and not everything would be boxy and black.)
If you’re the company that put the world on wheels, then you’re the company that needs to have a car like the 2013 Fusion on offer.
It makes me wonder what took them so long.
The last-generation Fusion was a nice car. The new car is a really, really nice car.
It gets down to a point that J Mays, Ford group vice president Design and chief creative officer, often makes, which is that it costs the same to form sheet metal attractively as it does in an ungainly manner. So why not make it as attractive as possible?
But it is not just about the exterior design. The interior is clearly a place where more than a modicum of attention has been paid, and that investment provides a wonderful return. While not having the best of all possible worlds in terms of its interface for things like the infotainment system, the fit and finish of the materials are well considered and the quality is certainly up to snuff.
The aforementioned manual transmission is a bit puzzling to me. While Henry might have been familiar with it, it seems to be some sort of bizarre addition. Not that I am anti-manuals, but when mated to a 1.6-liter inline four—EcoBoost or no EcoBoost—having a manual does no favors for you if you’re thinking about driving like James Bond being chased by some nefarious thugs. And whereas once upon a time it might have been that if you had a manual you’d get much better fuel efficiency, the difference between the 1.6 with a manual and one with an automatic is a whopping 1 mpg city/highway combined. Seriously, you don’t need or want it. It should be noted, however, that the manual is well done, with it easy to work through the gate, but still, the midsize sedan for the U.S. market with an engine that produces less than 200 hp and is meant to move a car that weighs 3,333 pounds is not meant for a manual.
This could lead to speculation as to whether it is there because the European Mondeo has a manual and it is all about commonality, so what the heck? This One Ford approach means, in effect, wheels for the world, so by having things common, be it materials, transmissions or engineering, people get a better car. And the 2013 Fusion is one of them.
Engine: 1.6-liter EcoBoost inline four
Material: Aluminum block and head
Horsepower: 178 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Length: 191.7 in.
Width: 72.9 in.
Height: 58.1 in.
Curb weight: 3,333 lb.
MSRP : $23,700 (destination & handling : $795)
EPA: 25/37/29 mpg city/highway/combined