Sleepers -- cars that look decidedly ordinary but secretly pack a high-performance punch -- are nothing new in the auto industry. These unassuming creations promise big fun in plainspoken, traffic-citation-resistant wrappers. Sleepers are one of Roadshow's favorite kinds of vehicles, and it's been a little while since we've seen a good one. Thankfully, Ford has just taken the wraps off of a beaut for the crowds at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
This is the 2017 Fusion V6 Sport, a surprisingly pugnacious new variant in Ford's popular family sedan range. In this case, "surprisingly pugnacious" works out to 325 horsepower and a stout 350 pound-feet of torque. Those are unrivaled numbers for a mainstream midsize four door. In fact, such metrics wallop those of the Nissan Maxima, ostensibly a class-above sport sedan carrying 300 hp and 261 pound-feet of torque. Ford, for its part, is quick to note that the V6 Sport is also more powerful than BMW's 340i (320 hp/330 pound-feet), yet the Fusion V6 Sport bests both with significantly less displacement -- it uses the 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 we've come to love in the latest F-150.
That would be a ton of power to put down through the front wheels, as is the case with most Fusion models, but thankfully the Blue Oval has fitted the V6 Sport with standard all-wheel drive. The model also gains continuously variable damping, which includes "pothole detection technology" that softens the suspension in an instant to soak up unexpected craters in the tarmac.
Given all this performance hardware, it's a bit surprising to see that Ford has chosen to be so muted with the V6 Sport's exterior, limiting departures from other 2017 Fusions to slightly larger air intakes, a gloss-black grill, 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-outlet twin exhausts and a trunk spoiler.
For the moment, Ford is regrettably mum on other key numbers including 0-60 mph, top speed, fuel economy and critically, price.
Like other Fusions, the V6 Sport gets a host of other desirable upgrades for its 2017 mid-life refresh, including a wealth of new interior and advanced safety technologies. Key upgrades include a Jaguar-like rotary gearshift knob, available lane-keep assist, Sync 3 infotainment and LED headlamps.
A few years ago, a car with this sort of performance would almost certainly have come with a badge from Ford's Special Vehicle Team, SVT, or even an ST or RS emblem. It's an interesting low-key strategy to style and brand a model this way, which hopefully suggests the Fusion V6 Sport will be a bit more affordable than one might expect.