All the new Fusions are knockouts, inasmuch as the basic shape evokes a downsized Aston Martin Rapide. The 1.6 EcoBoost is my favorite because it dares to pair a turbo motor and a clutch pedal, in an era where driving stick is fast becoming a lost art.
Ford assumes the Fusion will attract drivers who care enough to shift their own gears. Allied to the punchy 178-horsepower EcoBoost, the manual lets you choose your own adventure, short-shifting to surf along on the turbo's torque or redlining for max acceleration. Rowing your own gears in a big sedan is so downright European that you might start flashing your headlights at left-lane stragglers on your way to a topless beach for a three-hour lunch. And since we're getting specific, get the 204A package – 18-inch wheels and a subtle rear spoiler that won't make you look like a refugee from 'Faster and Furious.' [$23,700; ford.com]
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