Two months ago, an angelic deity (or a thirsty headline) prophesied that a new savior—a cheap, fun sedan that some might call the “Audi-Slayer”—would beam down from the Ford heavens, gracing us with tons of power and all-wheel drive. I just drove this chosen one, the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport, and it wasn’t the spiritual experience I expected.
(Full disclosure: Ford wanted me to drive the Ford Fusion Sport so badly, it invited me out to a fancy golf course in Michigan and fed me delicious breakfast.)
The Ford Fusion Sport is kind of a big deal. Every automotive outlet, including us, has been talking about how the Blue Oval’s new powerful Fusion could be a great all-wheel drive sports sedan that will compete with the Germans for far less money. And the specs totally suggest just that.
The car makes 325 horsepower and a Holy Crap That Can’t Be Right? But It Is! 380 lb-ft of torque from a 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 pulled from the F-150 and Edge Sport. All that power gets sent through a torque converter, then a bunch of gears, and then through a bunch of shafts, before ultimately arriving at all four wheels.
Add to that Ford’s standard Continuously Controlled Damping system—which adjust damping rates based on driving conditions—and a sport mode that adjusts steering calibration, transmission shift schedule, throttle response and engine sound, and you’ve got a promising spec sheet begging to be compared with an Audi S4 or a BMW 340i.
The truth is, the Fusion Sport really was never meant to compete with the likes of Audi and BMW; that wasn’t at all the point. The whole point, Ford told me at the press event, was to give mid-size sedan customers a bit more. That doesn’t mean transforming the Fusion into an Audi-slayer. It simply means offering a bit more power and re-tuned handling to satisfy customers who might have a family, but still like to do a bit of spirited driving now and again.
In other words: the Fusion Sport is a family sedan first and a driver’s car second.
That fact quickly became apparent when I arrived at the media event, which wasn’t at a track, but rather at a fancy golf course near Hell, Michigan. While Ford definitely pointed out the powerful V6 and the Continuously Controlled Damping that can mitigate body roll in the turns, its emphasis seemed to be more on convenience-oriented aspects of the Fusion Sport.
For example, the first thing I did when I got to the event was a demo on the Fusion Sport’s Continuously Controlled Damping system. Ford had lined up two competitors—a Toyota Camry XLE V6 and a Honda Accord EX-L V6—to show me how the Ford’s ride quality compared to that of the competition.
The story there is that the Ford is the only car in the segment that offers an active damping system, something that promises to not only yield better handling, but perhaps more importantly, a smoother ride. (I’ll admit I didn’t notice a huge difference between the three cars on that makeshift course.)
The next thing we did was try out the Fusion Sport’s Enhanced Active Park Assist System, which basically involved me pressing a button to turn on the mode as I drove past a parking spot. The Fusion’s proximity sensors noticed the opening, and told me to shift into reverse and not touch anything except the brake as the car slowly backed into the space. It worked well.
So here I was at a press drive for a hotly anticipated sports sedan, and we were doing little parking lot demos to showcase how the car drives over potholes and automatically pulls into parking spaces.