Alain Mckenna

Fusion plugs into new motivation

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Fusion plugs into new motivation

Car Review

Overall rating:

8/10

Editor's Ratings:

  • Performance: 6/10

  • Comfort (front): 9/10

  • Consumption: 9/10

  • Look: 8/10

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

We have been waiting for the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid for months now, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see Ford doubling down in that segment, adding a very hi-tech Fusion Energi to its 2013 line-up.

MORE: 2013 Ford Fusion Energi trims and other specs

Ford’s electrification plans are ambitious, to say the least: hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars are an important part of its portfolio. Combining the electrifying goodness of the C-Max Energi with the modern styling of Fusion, it’s unclear where this new midsize sedan fits in the market, though.

Unless you are looking for a really hi-tech car, that is. Under the hood, the Fusion Energi shares the C-Max Energi’s 2.0-litre engine, electric motor and electronic CVT. Regenerative braking and lithium ion battery are also included. This gives the Fusion a range of about 20-25 kilometers in EV mode, after which it operates as a “traditional” hybrid car.

Ford announces a 1.9 litre per 100 km combined fuel consumption. As car companies go, Ford has always been too optimistic. In real life, we averaged at 3.3 L/100km, which is still very good. In the same conditions, a Toyota plug-in Prius did a little over 5 L/100 km. Both cars have similar specs, even though the Prius costs slightly less, at $35,700, versus $38,700 for the Fusion Energi.

Regarding fuel economy, only the Chevrolet Volt does better, with about 50 km of electric range. The Volt costs more, though, at $42,000.

Several other components make the Fusion Energi very attractive ... for tech-lovers, at least: highly customizable LCD gauges, adaptive cruise control, self-adjusting high beams, Sync infotainment system, a self-parking system and a smartphone application that remotely monitors charging, vehicle info and a few other things.

We cannot congratulate Ford for making the central console of the Fusion Energi a smooth, touch-sensitive panel. It’s frustrating, and probably dangerous to operate while trying to keep pace with traffic in the middle of a busy rush hour.

That being said, add the Fusion’s newly designed front fascia to the equation, strongly resembling a much more expensive Aston Martin sports car, and you will understand why this car has definitive geek chic, the kind upon which an international man of mystery such as James Bond would not frown.

Especially since driving this plug-in car is also quite an exceptional experience. The torque the electric motor generates is enough for quick, decisive take-offs. The steering’s firmness can be associated to a more upscale type of sedan. Even the suspension, probably helped by the extra weight of the heavy li-ion battery pack, sticks the wheels firmly to the ground.

The regenerative brakes, on the other hand, are almost brutal. One thing you will never see on the street: a Starbucks executive driving a Fusion Energi. The venti lattè in the cupholder simply wouldn’t make it intact.

And you wouldn’t want that. Beyond the gadgetry, the interior of this new model feels very upscale: smooth surfaces and materials, leather, and enough room for tall adults, front and back. Without a doubt, this is a very sophisticated sedan.

The trunk is less sophisticated. It’s nearly full with electric components, leaving very little space for a travel bag, let alone a golf bag.

Let’s just say that despite the exclusive parking spaces, chances are you will not see a Fusion Energi at your local Ikea. The C-Max Energi, or the Prius, both hatchbacks, are better suited for the task. Judging by its look and its price, the Fusion Energi will be more easily spotted in front of a night club offering martinis. “Shaken, not stirred”, preferably, of course.

Fact file

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Trim level: SE

Price (before taxes): $38,700

Freight: $1,550

Options: SE Luxury Driver Assist Package ($1,550) inc.: Lane-keeping system, Blind Spot Information System, rain-sensing wipers, auto high-beams, 110-volt outlet

Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive

Engine/Transmission: 2.0L 4-cyl. With electric motor/ continuously variable

Fuel economy rating: 1.9 L/100 km (combined)

Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain); 8 years/ 160,000 km (hybrid components)

Competitors: Chevrolet Volt; Toyota Prius PHEV

Strengths: fuel economy; comfort; style

Weaknesses: MyFord Touch; trunk volume