Ford Goes to Bat in Detroit With a 325-Horsepower Fusion
If you’re looking to spend a good deal of dough on a high-performance sedan, you’re pretty well catered to. Mercedes can sell you a loony C63 AMG, and BMW will fight for your business with an M3 or M4 coupe. Audi has its S4, Lexus can soon offer a V8-powered GS-F, and Cadillac would be very pleased if you showed interest in its CTS- or ATS-V. Even Volvo, the bastion of sensible safety, can sell you a 325-horsepower Polestar-tuned S60.
But bring it down a notch to the more blue-collar price bracket, and you’ll have just about zero. The most potent Toyota Camry you can buy has 268 horsepower, Honda will top that by 10, Chevrolet will soon sell you a Malibu with 250 horsepower, the Mazda6 won’t break 200, and Ford’s Fusion will peak at 240. Well, it used to.
Ford is giving the Fusion a minor facelift for 2017. That’s not a huge surprise — though it’s aged well, the current design has been the Fusion’s suit of choice since 2013. Ford has sharpened the looks of the new model, though most non-car people would still instantaneously recognize it as being a Ford Fusion. The big story, as is often the case, is under the hood: Buyers will soon be able to choose a new twin-turbo, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6-powered all-wheel drive model from the Fusion menu.
Ford boasts a wide range of Fusion models, from the basic 2.5-liter-four model to the plug-in hybrid Fusion Energi. But the latest model will be the first performance-oriented model in the field. At last, Ford’s Aston-derived styling will be put to good use.
Ford’s hot Fusion is said to deliver “a projected” 325 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That trumps the Accord and Camry by 50 horsepower, but the last time Ford “projected” power figures, it turned out to be a modest estimate. There’s a very real possibility that we could be waiting on a 350-horsepower, midsize sedan from the Blue Oval.
To address what you’re all probably thinking: There’s no evidence as of yet that Ford is going to badge it as a Fusion ST, or another commonly used term to denote Ford’s performance models. In its press release, Ford referred to the car as the Fusion V6 Sport. To help differentiate it, the V6 Sport gets an aggressive exterior with deeper air intakes and a gloss black-finish mesh grille, 19-inch rims, rear spoiler, and dual twin exhaust outlets.
On the more refined end of the new Fusion spectrum, Ford is also introducing a Platinum trim level to its leading sedan, which the company says will be focused on “instrument and door trim panels [that] are wrapped in antiqued Cocoa leather, and the hand-wrapped steering wheel [that] is finished in premium Venetian leather. A unique grille finished in Magnetic paint makes for an upscale design and 19-inch polished wheels return confident performance,” it added. In essence, we can expect the Platinum to be basically a U.S.-spec Mondeo Vignale from Europe.
Ford’s Fusion was a pretty easy sell to begin with; since 2013, it’s boasted one of the widest-spanning menus of powertrain options, arguably the best looks in the segment (though the Mazda6 would like a word with you also), and through it all, it offers the mainstream appeal that the segment needs to survive. Adding a V6 sport option and a range-topping model that can be parked in front of a Four Seasons will remind people why compact crossovers can’t replace everything.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.