Ford Fusion pictures and hands-on

You’re looking at the new Mondeo. So why is it called Fusion? It might have a name that in Europe we know in the Ford lexicon as belonging to granny’s shopping hatch, but in America, Ford’s mid-large car is known as Fusion. Under the company’s new strategy of creating "world" cars that’ll be sold across the Americas, Europe and Asia, this car is therefore badged as a Fusion in America, Mondeo in Europe. Rest assured though, they will be virtually indistinguishable in terms of looks.

And given how it looks, we’d say that’s a very good thing indeed. Given some of Ford’s recent history, when they told us that the face of the EVOS concept from Frankfurt was a clue to the next Mondeo, we weren’t quite sure whether to believe them. But it seems they weren’t telling porkies. The Fusion/Mondeo face is very much like the EVOS. And if you’re thinking Aston Martin too, no one at Ford will be unhappy with you for saying so.

This car is all about pushing the brand upmarket. From its heyday of selling c.300,000 Mondeos a year at the time a certain Mr Blair came to power - supposedly thanks to "Mondeo man" - Mondeo sales have dwindled to around 50,000 per year. In part, people have moved into crossovers and MPVs instead, but mostly, they moved into the BMW 3-Series.

The new Mondeo has therefore been designed to stand comparison with the BMW in quality terms. And it’s so good that we suspect if you put this and the new 3-Series side by side, and took the badges off, most people would struggle to tell you which was the more expensive car. It’s a deeply impressive piece of kit, the quality is utterly first rate - with an interior standard of fit and finish, material and use and soft-feel that’s really knocking on the door of Audi’s quality.

Inside, you’ll also get MyFord Touch - Ford’s touchscreen-based multimedia system that’s employed in its current US range, but which has been getting a rocky-ride from customers in the US for its complexity and (lack of) ease of use. We weren’t able to use the system in this Fusion fully but it’s supposedly received a serious upgrade, and certainly looks very smart. It employs a large centre screen and the ability for the driver to then choose what information is displayed on the two TFT screens that flank the speedo.

Our only concern is about size. This is a vast car. Ford didn’t release dimensions, but it’s clearly knocking on the door of five meters long (for comparison a BMW 3-Series is 4.65m long). That’ll be great for American customers of the Fusion who want and expect space and the comfort that goes with it in their cars, and whose roads are designed for it. But for those of us confined to "old Europe’s" cities, designed around the horse and cart, we suspect the first time you try to slip your new Mondeo into a parking space, everyone on board will be breathing in for dear life.

The Mondeo should go on sale at the end of the year. Expect the usual array of Ford engines, including the powerful but frugal "Ecoboost" options, plus a hybrid option this time. The Mondeo version of this car appears at March’s Geneva motor show, and we’ll be sure to bring you a driving hands on as soon as Ford allow us to get behind the wheel.

Is Ford doing enough to get you out of your Audi or BMW?



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