UK Car Road Test.
Ford Fusion 3 1.4 DCi 2003.
This 5 door hatch is a little quirky in looks to say the least. Bigger than Ford's Fiesta and smaller than the very popular Focus, I guess it was named accordingly as it has similarities to both. This is the high spec level 3 with the diesel engine for extremely affordable running costs.
Whatever view you may take on this car and others like it, you cannot surely find them even remotely stylish or even slightly attractive to view. They are generally not even slightly handsome or beautiful and yet they sell in their thousands.
I, for one, find most multi purpose, small hatch-backs darned ugly and generally featureless and this Fusion is no exception. The Fusion gives the impression that it was originally designed as a bigger 4X4 and then reduced to a small hatch. It has flared wheel arches which continue along the doors, swelling the car exterior width and adding no practical purpose which I can see.
Maybe you have to be devoid of passion when buying one of these cars. In
the battle for sensibility over aesthetics you
would need to have a very strong desire for practicality and none for style.
One of the positive features this car does have is a turbo diesel donkey which gives a very high mpg as well as reduced servicing and running costs. Similar to VW, Ford have utilised the colour red for it's marketing of the "turbo diesel" Fusion! Unlike V-Dub Ford have only provided enough power from this diesel engine to peel an overripe Satsuma. This must be where the idea for the red/orange badge came from, which is unlike V-Dub who use red to imply it's a hot and fiery diesel.
Once over the humbling and non joyous experience of looking at the outside of
the Fusion I am not really looking forward to the drive and internal comforts.
More thinking of the chocolate bar which I am not a great lover of either.
The interior is humbling without fuss or complication. The dash is contrasted with black and grey which works well and the speedo area is without a great deal of detail and maybe even a little dated with an LCD fuel & temp gauge.. The seating could not be described as sumptuous or refined, it is instead versatile, firm when sat on and very comparable to many Japanese competitors.
The Ford Fusion is a very affordable new car so refinements are few and far between in the basic models. This one tested is the level 3 which is really as good as it gets. Features like power steering are standard throughout the range and the options are very restricted once you get past floor mats and mud flaps when buying new. This car tested had a very stylish CD player stereo with remote control, heated front and rear screens, air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, folding front passenger seat, alloy wheels, front fog lamps, air bags and more.
All of the extras are easy to use, I found that the ventilation lacked volume and the air con was not the most effective experienced and that could be due to Ford penny-pinching by not filling the gas to the top when new. The stereo worked better than older Ford models but could have had even better sound quality. It looked modern and was very well positioned but it failed to do what it was fitted for and that was a shame. I used this car in warm weather so did not need the heated front screen but I have had the pleasure of using them on cold frosty mornings and can highly recommend them.
Ford diesel technology has improved greatly over the last few years from the older diesel engines which are now almost as antiquated as early steam engines. TDCi is the new generation supplying a high power output with low emissions and high fuel efficiency, helping towards a lower greenhouse effect as well as some light relief to the bank card and less tax to Mr Gordon Brown (one of my most mistrusted men along with Tony-Two-Face Blair). I am very much in favour of less duty and more for the consumer and this little engine does this with ease.
The TDCi engine starts easily at all temperatures without excessive cranking and idles smoothly although it is a little noisy at idle and throughout the rev range and is audible from inside even when driving. At only 1400cc, this little DCi unit does not supply lots of ooomppphhh, it's more a trickle of power without any thrust even under full throttle. The only other car you could race with this would be another Fusion diesel. If you were a competitive driver, owning one of these would require lots of sedative medication to ease your frustrations when driving it. Of course it has it's advantages in being slower than a bus, it adds to a very low insurance and reflects in the safety associated with high speed driving.
Accepting the lack of power and the noise, the Fusion performs predictably and will, after some time gear changing and full throttle, achieve motorway speeds. Once there, it maintains them up small inclines without further need to change gear. On the flat it will cruise comfortably at 70 mph and although the cabin noise is high, the drive is acceptable. City streets is where this car does best, it will make small dashes through the traffic and keep up with the flow with minimal fuel consumption and is a very nimble drive. The gearbox and clutch operations are light, easy and precise, the car is great starting form a standstill and up to 30 mph and the overall external visibility makes it very easy for lane changes and manoeuvering. I must add that I drove this car for some 400 miles and, having adapted my driving to obtain the most the engine offered, I was not frustrated with it at all.
Ford front wheel drive cars are improving greatly in design and the Focus is superb, with the Fiesta being not quite as good and this Fusion is somewhere between the two. It has power assisted steering, independent suspension and ABS-assisted braking but with discs to the front only. Rear is not required due to the low power output and ultimately low top speeds. Parking is extremely easy as this car is small with a great visibility and a good steering lock. When driving at all speeds the car was stable and reassuring, it could be thrown around corners and roundabouts which gave some gratification because the power output did not. The large alloys on this car will add greatly to the steering feeling and road holding, indeed the car chassis and suspension would easily cope with a larger engine, giving full marks to the general drive of this little hatch.
As with all cars produced today, the Fusion is fitted with electronic air-bag and seatbelt pre-tension technology as well as steel side impact protection beams, chassis crumple zones, front and rear head restraints (which help prevent whiplash) and three rear seatbelts with three point anchorage. In fact, the only thing against this car in terms of safety is its physical mass. Generally, the bigger, heavier cars offer more resistance to impact, however a car like the Fusion is incalculably safer than cars of a similar size only ten years older. It is also nearly impossible to steal one due to the immobilisation fitted as standard. The stereo is designed for this car only so it has very little value to any thief so you are not likely to have a smash-and-grab for anything fitted in the car other than what you leave in sight. Ford still have radio codes which now have little effect in deterring theft - they are more a money spinner if you lose it as Ford franchised outlets try and charge for the code if you need it. You can download a Ford stereo code calculator for free from our website in the Ford section under car specs.
Summing this car up is easy - it is very reliable, very affordable, very efficient on fuel, very cheap to insure, affordable servicing costs and only £50 per year for road tax, the tax is so cheap you cannot buy six months' worth as it is not available. It is a rewarding car to drive around town and will, if required, cruise on the motorway at speed with some comfort although better is available. I covered 260 miles in one day and was not over-fatigued. I just would have preferred something with more poke and less interior noise. You should not consider one for high mileage commuting but for day-to-day shopping, school runs or occasional days out it is perfect.
It is not the most attractive to look at from outside and it more than makes up for this with good interior design and ergonomics. The seating position is firm and supportive, the boot capacity is ample and the general durability is good. The car tested had covered 77,000 miles and performed as new, it had very few stone chips and no corrosion anywhere in sight. The interior was looking great without any wear to the leather steering wheel or driver's seat, all suggesting a good quality car for an affordable price.
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UK Car Road Test Ford Fusion 3 1.4 DCi 2003
UK Car Road Test Keywords: Hatchback Diesel MPVFusion 3 1.4 DCi