A Fusion of Smart Ideas (Ford Fusion, 2002-2012)

ENGINES – Don’t expect to choose from a wide range of engines - it is a small car after all. If it’s just urban driving you’ll be doing, any of the petrol units will easily do the job. If you're going to be carrying loads frequently, go for the 1.6 over the 1.4-litre unit. Longer distances, more passengers and bigger loads will realistically require a diesel motor. This won’t be the quietest option but the performance and economy numbers are good.

EXTERIOR - The Fusion's original remit was to appeal in the youth market - hence the SUV-like styling details. The Fusion's body cladding has a more practical use though, as it does much to help mask any parking dents and scrapes. And you'd be right in thinking that the Fusion looks like a Fiesta estate, which is no bad thing.

INTERIOR - Unlike the exterior, the Fusion's interior is very much like that of the same generation Fiesta's. It's all proven stuff, right down to the ergonomics. The plastic might look a little hard, but the trade off is a durable cabin that will withstand a lot of abuse from family members. The driving position is slightly raised, which helps promote better comfort and forward visibility.

DRIVING – It might look like a wannabe SUV but the Fusion drives and rides much like its Fiesta cousin. The slightly raised driving position is most welcome, as is the Fusion's direct steering, strong brakes and slick gearshift. The 1.4 petrol unit can struggle under a heavy load, but otherwise it's difficult to find fault with the rest of the range.

OWNERSHIP – This is where that Blue Oval badge really counts for something. Running costs will likely be modest, with fuel your main expense although the diesel variant can reduce that further. Servicing should prove to be straightforward - and not break the bank, either – while the Fusion’s practical and spacious cabin is its trump card.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – With its roots in family-friendly motoring, the Fusion could well display the trademarks of a tough life: parking dents, kerbed wheels, interior scuffs and soiled upholstery. Mechanically the Fusion is a simple, tough car. Any unusual noises or behaviour on the test drive should have you walking away. City runabout, ultra-low mileage cars are best avoided, if only because engines will never have been run for lengthy periods.

MODEL HISTORY

2002: Ford launches Fusion five-door hatchback to partner the long established Fiesta supermini. Chunky looks and practical cabin won over small families and empty nesters on a budget. Good levels of standard kit and attractive engines (petrol and diesel) make the Fusion an affordable and appealing car second time around.

REASONS TO BUY – Chunky exterior styling, practical cabin, low running costs, good to drive.REASONS TO BEWARE – Not as popular as a Fiesta, hard worked cars can look tired, dark cabin ambience.

PICK OF THE RANGE – 1.4 TDCI Zetec

WHAT TO PAY

2005 55 3,170

2006 06 3,545

2006 56 3,715

2007 07 4,185

2007 57 4,400

Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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