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Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Fusion Sport and MKZ offer sporty variations on a mid-sized them
One is the
sportiest version of Ford's mainstream mid-size sedan, while the other's
Lincoln's variation on the theme. So, when it comes to a choice between the
Fusion Sport and the Lincoln MKZ, which is the better car?
(syrup, anyone?)! As is so often the case, the answer is a clear "it
depends." Mostly, it depends on your budget, I suppose, because the loaded
Ford Fusion sport Ford loaned me to wring out for a week is priced at $42,388
(sans taxes, etc.) while the MKZ stickered for $59,300. That's a pretty big
spread for what beneath the surface are two cars who share a lot of their DNA.
- the car's quite hot!
dying to have some serious seat time in the Fusion Sport since I went on the
2017 model introduction junket last year.
It's the top line Fusion - well, there's also the Platinum and Energi Platinum trim
levels that can raise the ante a bit - but they don't offer the performance
upgrades of the Sport, chief of which is the 2.7 litre twin turbo EcoBoost V6. This
engine is quite lovely; Ford rates its output in the Fusion Sport as 325
horsies @ 5,500 rpm with 380 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,500 revs.
competitive in this niche, and it leaves the sportiest versions of the Toyota
Camry and Honda Accord (which can "sport" non-turbo 3.5 litre V6's
rated at 268 and 278 horses, respectively) and the VW Passat's 280 hp in the
dust. Also in the rear view mirror is the Kia Optima, whose sportiest engine is
a two litre turbo four the company rates at 245 horses.
On the other
hand, 300+ horsepower is hardly unique in the marketplace, but you may find
yourself going up market for it. The V6 in Infiniti's Q70 sedan puts out 330 hp
(less torque than the Ford, though), Lexus' GS 350's six cranks out 311, and
Audi's A6's V6 puts out 340.
Ford has those
luxury cars' figures beaten, however, if you go upmarket to the Lincoln MKZ
instead of the Fusion, at least if you opt for the optional three litre
turbocharged V6: up to 400/400 horsepower/torque, depending on the grade of
fuel you use. That's a lot of oomph from a mainstream luxury sedan!
Guess why it
was that I liked the MKZ better than the Fusion.
only one reason - but it's a good one!
But back to
the Fusion Sport, which is still a pretty great car for the money.
can be distinguished from their more staid siblings via deeper air intakes,
gloss black mesh grille, 19 inch "tarnished dark" wheels, a cute
little rear spoiler, and four exhaust pipe outlets. Inside, the Sport model
gets leather-trimmed seating with Miko sueded seat inserts, a black headliner,
carbon fibre trim, and on the rotary shifter the "L" (low range)
becomes an "S" (sport, of course).
sport button and Clark Kent turns, if not into Superman, into a much more
interesting drive, thanks to more aggressively programmed shift points, faster
throttle response and stiffer steering. The damping gets more aggressive
(though not jarringly so) and the car's active noise control lets through (or
creates, for all I know…) a more entertaining sound inside the cabin.
upgraded power, the Fusion Sport comes standard with all-wheel drive and with
anti-roll bars and spring rates tuned for sporty performance, while the
continuously controlled suspension tweaks itself between stiff and soft
depending on the road surface and how you have the car set up. The system also
allows for pothole detection, where sensors detect the edge of a pothole and,
within milliseconds, change damping rates to reduce the severity of an impact.
It sounds great, but I didn't have the guts to seek out big potholes to test
the system. Bad enough the Fusion got run into in a parking lot while I had it!
In practice, I
found the Fusion's suspension a tad soft in the car's normal modes, but had no
complaints about it once it was set firmly into Sport mode.
Power gets to
the corners via a six speed automatic transmission, with paddles, and it shifts
I had a couple
of minor quibbles, not so much with the Fusion Sport itself but with Ford's
interfaces. For example, to get a digital speedometer I had to mess with the
left hand controllers on the steering wheel but if I used the paddle shifters
the display would switch to a digital tachometer (not that that's a bad thing
in itself) and I'd have to mess with the controllers again to get the
speedometer back when I left manual mode.
there's a way to configure this better in the voluminous adjustments Ford
offers, but it didn't bother me enough to go diving into the more arcane levels
of the cascades. So obviously it wasn't that big a deal.
is nice, but not nearly as high rent as the Lincoln. I suppose that shouldn't
I also noticed
that the trunk lid is very thick, though that thickness doesn't really
translate to more apparent heft. This isn't a complaint, just an observation because
it seemed unusual.
On the upside,
again, the Fusion (in any incarnation) is plenty roomy and comfortable inside
and I noticed that, at least with the Sport, you can lock/unlock any of the
four doors via proximity sensor. This is a handy feature because you don't have
to open the driver's door first to get at the passenger doors.
of storage space inside as well, including a handy shelf underneath the centre
console. I'd park my iPad there and it was out of the way enough that I wasn't
afraid to leave it when I left the car.
Sport, in all, is a nice, albeit a tad bland, entry in this segment of the
market and its upgraded driveability helps to make it a compelling choice for
those who value a mid-sized sedan but want a little more performance out of it.
If it isn't
luxurious enough for you, you could opt for the Platinum trim level or…
If you want
even more bang - not necessarily for the buck, though - Lincoln's MKZ is an
uber-Fusion, a luxury sedan that's solid and comfortable and chock full of the
most up to date features (not that the Fusion is any slouch when it comes to
tech and nannies).
And while the
MKZ may be mostly a Fusion beneath its skin, the cars look and feel very
different from each other. For example, Lincoln's exterior styling includes a
grille lifted from the exquisite new Continental.
The profile is classy and sleek, too, though the rear end is its weakest (a common
thing these days, in my never humble opinion).
awesome panoramic sunroof as well, but when you open it, it slides down over
the rear window and once it's extended fully you lose about half your view
rearward. The last generation of the Porsche 911 Targahad the same issue, though I
don't think it was quite as noticeable.
selector is kind of neat. It consists of a row of buttons (labelled PRND, etc.)
mounted vertically to the left of the central LCD. It works fine, though I
occasionally pressed the start/stop button (which is directly above) instead of
Park. Owners will undoubtedly get used to this quickly, however.
choices are offered, including a hybrid power plant and a two litre turbo four
- but the engine of choice here must be the three litre, twin turbo V6, which
is a very rewarding engine to open up. Ford/Lincoln says the thing puts 400/400
horsepower/torque onto the road and that's plenty of poop indeed! I really
loved this engine!
Power goes to
all four wheels via a six speed automatic with paddles, and I didn't lose the
digital speedometer by activating the paddles (the Lincoln's dash layout is different
from the Fusion's, and better).
The interior is
comfortable, luxurious, and efficient. The centre stack is a lovely example of
logical simplicity and the Revel audio system really performs when you give it
good quality sound. I must apologize to Lincoln for dumping on this
systemin my last MKZ review. Since I was travelling then I didn't have my
collection of high quality music files with me; this time I did, and the
difference was "ear opening". Garbage in, garbage out…
The MKZ feels
very solid and whatever extra weight it has compared to the Fusion is more than
made up for by that outrageous V6, which never seems perturbed no matter how hard
you press it.
Fusion, the MKZ gets a full suite of nannies and other aids. My favourite of
these is the rear cross traffic monitor and rear view camera. They aren't
unique to Ford/Lincoln, but they sure do come in handy in parking lots! There's
also lane departure warning, parking assist and parking sensors, adaptive
cruise control, etc.
V6, options on Lincoln's sample included the panoramic sunroof ($3,450), the
"Technology" package ($2,450 - basically the nannies and rain-sensing
wipers), 19 inch wheels ($750) and the Revel audio system ($1100). The
attractive Burgundy Velvet Metallic paint added another $700.
budget willing, would be the MKZ over the Fusion Sport. It takes everything
that's good about the Fusion and makes it just that much better. Naturally, you
pay for the privilege, but there's no such thing as a free lunch.