European Ford Fusion Misses the Target by A Mile
Anyone reading this website recently might think Ford of Europe is a paragon of virtue, with praise heaped on a variety of vehicles like the new Mondeo, S-Max and even the Transit Connect van.
Allow me, then, to redress the balance by presenting to you one of the Blue Oval’s less successful European initiatives, the Fusion.
Despite sharing the same name, the Fusion available in Europe has nothing to do with the North American sedan of the same name, which for all I know may be quite a good car.
Here in Europe, Fusion is the name given to a completely pointless vehicle which sits awkwardly alongside the rest of the Ford range and has no immediately obvious redeeming features. It is easily the most forgettable Ford offered here since the Maverick (our name for the Ford Escape).
So what is a Fusion? According to Ford it is a multi-activity vehicle, conjuring up images of a rugged, roomy, slightly sporty automobile suiting those with an outdoor lifestyle. Unfortunately, something went very wrong in the execution, and all that Ford came up with was a marginally squarer, marginally taller Fiesta, costing more money and looking, if anything, even blander.
The Fiesta, a model soon to be replaced, is Ford Europe’s worthy but fairly dull small hatchback, conceived at a time when Ford seemed to think the recipe for success was copying the most clinical and boring bits of Volkswagens. The Fiesta is a perfectly OK little car, solid and reliable, but nothing more.
The Fusion is supposed to be an enlarged, funkier Fiesta, but unfortunately, despite many panels being different, it still manages to look almost identical to its cheaper brother apart from a notably uglier nose. Inside it has a different interior, but again it is as bland and boring as they come.
If the Fusion replaced anything it was the much more distinctive little Puma coupe, a car which for all its faults made small Fords look desirable. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but a new Puma would have been a much more tempting prospect for buyers looking for that distinctive small car.
Mechanically the Fusion has broadly the same range of worthy-but-unexciting engines as the Fiesta, and has been marketed principally by Ford as a tall car offering panoramic views for the drivers and passengers. As it is only two inches taller than the hardly low-slung or cramped Fiesta, though, it seems hard to sustain this fiction of a totally different driving experience, and in fact the extra room inside is fairly minimal.
It hasn’t helped Ford that General Motors hit the bulls-eye with its own competitor in the same class, the Vauxhall/Opel Meriva, an innovative mini-MPV which has a really clever interior and makes the best possible use of space within its compact dimensions. Compared to the Meriva, the Fusion looks like a decidedly amateurish effort, and relatively few people have been willing to pay over $2000 more than a Fiesta for those extra two inches of height.
Other more recent competitors, including the Renault Modus and Nissan Note, have also left the Fusion trailing in their wake. It has been around a few years now, but any hope of a facelift to redress some of these issues seems to have been dashed, leaving the Fusion as an odd-car out in Ford showrooms, a Fiesta-look-a-like costing almost as much as the bigger and much nicer second-generation Focus sold in Europe.
The bewildering lack of any clear purpose for the Fusion is brought into even more perspective by the direction taken by Ford’s own Brazilian arm with its version of the Fusion, known as the EcoSport.
With much bolder styling details, increased ground clearance, off-road suspension, a no-frills interior and wider range of engines, the EcoSport has been far more of a success than the Fusion and actually looks like it offers something different in the small-car sector.
North American buyers could well find out more soon, as there are persistent rumours that the latest version of the EcoSport may be exported to the USA and Canada. Meanwhile, if Ford Europe does decide to replace the Fusion here let’s hope the marketing and design guys talk first this time.
COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved