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For the 2017 model year, Ford has introduced an updated Fusion, with a broader powertrain lineup as well as design and technology updates. One addition is the Fusion Sport, a V6-powered, all-wheel-drive model meant for those looking for a dash of rewarding performance with their family vehicle. Ford gambles that there are still mainstream mid-size sedan buyers looking for this type of a setup, and it isn’t really to be found among the competition. So, along with giving the overall Fusion range an update for the 2017 model year, Ford added the Fusion Sport, with a 325-hp, 380 lb-ft, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, all-wheel-drive and chassis updates for more responsive performance. I’ve just recently had the opportunity for a first drive.

Overall, the 2017 model year Fusion range gets more technology and equipment, with exterior changes and interior updates, to carry the model through the rest of this lifecycle. Powertrain offerings expand to include four traditional powertrains as well as the hybrid and plug-in hybrid EVs. The hybrids maximize fuel efficiency, the Fusion Sport creates a more powerful, fun-to-drive sedan, and a new Platinum edition adds a premium touring model that complements the premium sporting nature of the Fusion Sport. The most interesting of the range is the Fusion Sport. While registrations of V6-equipped mid-size sedans is declining, according to IHS Markit vehicle registration data, Ford is doubling-down on a hearty Fusion Sport. I think they just might be on to something.

Reviving a V6 and all-wheel-drive, sporty sedan entry increases Fusion model offerings and complexity in a very crowded segment that is sensitive to incentives to move metal—and provides legitimate sporting credibility for the last half of the car’s lifecycle. The entry also comes at a time where Ford is placing more emphasis on its Ford Performance stable, which includes the Ford GT, the Focus RS, the Mustang Shelby GT350 and the F-150 Raptor. The Fusion Sport is not a formal part of that stable, but it supports Ford’s performance message in a more accessible package.

The Fusion Sport delivers an engaging driving experience, with more power and responsiveness than competing mainstream mid-size V6 sedans. The engine offers a level of torque more comparable to offerings from premium brands and performance sub-brands with larger twin-turbo V6 and V8 options, providing powertrain performance in the Fusion Sport that a consumer could expect from a premium make like Audi, at a more affordable Ford price point.
 

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Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For the 2017 model year, Ford has introduced an updated Fusion, with a broader powertrain lineup as well as design and technology updates. One addition is the Fusion Sport, a V6-powered, all-wheel-drive model meant for those looking for a dash of rewarding performance with their family vehicle. Ford gambles that there are still mainstream mid-size sedan buyers looking for this type of a setup, and it isn’t really to be found among the competition. So, along with giving the overall Fusion range an update for the 2017 model year, Ford added the Fusion Sport, with a 325-hp, 380 lb-ft, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, all-wheel-drive and chassis updates for more responsive performance. I’ve just recently had the opportunity for a first drive.

Overall, the 2017 model year Fusion range gets more technology and equipment, with exterior changes and interior updates, to carry the model through the rest of this lifecycle. Powertrain offerings expand to include four traditional powertrains as well as the hybrid and plug-in hybrid EVs. The hybrids maximize fuel efficiency, the Fusion Sport creates a more powerful, fun-to-drive sedan, and a new Platinum edition adds a premium touring model that complements the premium sporting nature of the Fusion Sport. The most interesting of the range is the Fusion Sport. While registrations of V6-equipped mid-size sedans is declining, according to IHS Markit vehicle registration data, Ford is doubling-down on a hearty Fusion Sport. I think they just might be on to something.

Reviving a V6 and all-wheel-drive, sporty sedan entry increases Fusion model offerings and complexity in a very crowded segment that is sensitive to incentives to move metal—and provides legitimate sporting credibility for the last half of the car’s lifecycle. The entry also comes at a time where Ford is placing more emphasis on its Ford Performance stable, which includes the Ford GT, the Focus RS, the Mustang Shelby GT350 and the F-150 Raptor. The Fusion Sport is not a formal part of that stable, but it supports Ford’s performance message in a more accessible package.

The Fusion Sport delivers an engaging driving experience, with more power and responsiveness than competing mainstream mid-size V6 sedans. The engine offers a level of torque more comparable to offerings from premium brands and performance sub-brands with larger twin-turbo V6 and V8 options, providing powertrain performance in the Fusion Sport that a consumer could expect from a premium make like Audi, at a more affordable Ford price point.

Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Image courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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While Ford has confidence that there is an unmet need for a product like this—and I would tend to agree, particularly as well executed as the Fusion Sport is–buyer behavior does not make this obvious. According to IHS Markit vehicle registration data, the share of V6 registrations versus 4-cylinder engines—for those few mainstream mid-size sedans offering both—has been in decline since at least 2011. However, torque output of both mainstream and premium mid-size sedans, which drivers really feel the most when mashing down the accelerator pedal, shows that the Ford Fusion Sport offers torque (and acceleration) above an Audi S4 and similar to a Lexus RC-F—vehicles at price points well above the Fusion Sport. This does suggest there is opportunity, that there are buyers looking for a greater level of performance, and that Ford’s price point may prove attractive. That price point is also one that is at the upper end of Fusion pricing, and therefore may prove more financially beneficial to Ford.

And now, the rest of the story from Forbes (article):
In the context of the mid-size sedan segment, the Fusion Sport is executed with a clearer sport mission than the Honda Accord V6 or Toyota Camry V6. Chrysler offered a V6/all-wheel-drive version of the 200 as a sporting car, too, proving that the concept isn’t specific to Ford, while demonstrating that success can get lost in execution. The Fusion Sport may not win over buyers looking for an Audi S4. But it does offer a great mix of performance, style and affordability that had not been available. Ford told us that they think there’s potential for the Sport to take 5 to 10 percent of all Fusion sales—this isn’t the heart of the Fusion lineup, but a very nice addition.

Ford also expects that adding the model enables the Fusion to cover every niche of the mid-size sedan segment. After a brief drive of the Fusion Sport, the strategy holds promise. The Fusion Sport delivers a drive that seems greater than the sum of its parts. The chassis setup, particularly in Sport mode, is delightful; seats are (finally) a great blend between firm and comfortable, and nicely bolstered to match the performance of the car; the transmission does, as promised, respond with more sporting authority; the engine is powerful on acceleration and passing, giving the Sport a bit more get-up-and-go; and the sound development, while by Ford’s own admission partly created through effective noise tuning, provides a lovely audio track, appropriately gruff.
 
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