Ford Unveils Fusion Plus | Part Five

Driving Quality

With its small-car footprint, Fusion Plus is highly manoeuvrable and has a high seating position that offers its driver a commanding view of traffic.

The front suspension features an extremely rigid subframe, which supports the lower A-arms of the suspension as well as the steering rack. This design helps to isolate road harshness from the body structure and is the foundation for Fusion Plus’s superior handling.

The body structure makes extensive use of “tailored blanks” with high-strength steels for ultra-stiff chassis system mounting points. These stiff mounting points maximise the suspension system’s potential to achieve the robust dynamic characteristics, for which Fusion and Fusion Plus have been engineered.

“Like the standard Fusion, the Fusion Plus is designed to be a dynamically superb vehicle,” said Philip Maguire, Ford of Europe Vehicle Line Director for small cars. “It has a very stiff body structure, with steering and suspension components engineered for optimised compliance, making Fusion Plus a great small car to drive.”

The twist-beam rear suspension is designed to separate the input of the spring and damper forces into the body and to contribute to Fusion Plus’s high levels of driving quality. The vehicle’s monotube dampers are positioned upright to the outboard edge of the vehicle body, while the compact springs are positioned underfloor.

Fusion Plus can be ordered with optional Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) for models equipped with the Duratec 16V 1.6-litre 100 PS petrol engine and the 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi common-rail diesel. Fusion Plus’s ESP system uses an array of sensors in combination with elements of the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system (ABS) and engine management controls to apply braking power intelligently, and reduce engine power when it senses that the vehicle is not following the driver’s chosen path. It allows the new Fusion Plus to offer an added level of assurance should the driver encounter unexpected conditions, such as an obstacle or slippery road surface.

Passenger Safety

Fusion Plus is engineered to surround passengers with a stable and safe driving environment, and to instil peace-of-mind on the road. This begins with Fusion Plus’s strong unibody structure, made of high-strength steels and incorporating a highly rigid front subframe.

The body structure is designed to channel energy into multiple channels, rather than into the passenger cabin itself. Besides the low-channel path that most small cars offer, Fusion Plus also has an upper path, which deflects impact energy through the cowl and into the A-pillar structure. Front and rear crush zones absorb impact energy, and a side-impact-optimised B-pillar, whose centre is high strength to retain its shape, and whose upper and lower sections are slightly more crushable to help to absorb energy, provide optimal passenger-cell protection in case of side impact.

Fusion Plus’s Intelligent Protection System includes as standard latest generation dual-stage front airbags and optional front side airbags for thorax protection in the event of a severe side impact. An optional inflatable side curtain helps protect vehicle occupants in both the front and rear seats in a side impact collision. Hidden in the headliner, the inflatable curtain inflates to cover the A, B and C pillars to protect occupants from head injuries. Airbag deployment is initiated by a sophisticated crash severity sensor at the front of the vehicle.

Fusion Plus has standard three-point safety belts for all five seat positions. The driver seat features a three-point safety belt with a state-of-the-art pyrotechnic pretensioner, which helps ensure optimal airbag deployment behind the steering wheel and helps reduce head and chest injuries. The front passenger seat is fitted with a buckle-type pyrotechnic pretensioner to remove slack from the three-point safety belt by releasing a measured amount of chest webbing progressively during a crash event.

“Fusion Plus combines the superior drivability of a compact car with high seating position, a premium on interior stowage, flexibility and onboard entertainment,” Goold said. “Responsive and manoeuvrable, especially in town, it is a Ford through and through – great to look at, practical to use, durable, fun to be in and drive.”

Published 23 February 2003 Melanie Carter
 

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