Ford Ka review
The stylish Ford Ka has a practical layout and low running costs, but it's expensive to buy
The latest Ford Ka proves that small cars simply don’t have to be boring. Its funky dimensions and styling mean you’ll never go unnoticed around the city. For the latest Ka, Ford collaborated with Fiat, sharing many of the components and production facilities with the chic Fiat 500.
Some argue that the result is nowhere near as fun as the original Ford Ka, which took UK markets by storm. But the Ford Ka is still a versatile little thing, with seven specifications to choose from all-in-all. This includes the entry-level Ka Studio, all the way through to mid-range Ka Edge and Zetec, and ending with top-spec Ka Metal.
All models are packed with kit, including MP3 connectivity, while all but Ka Studio and Ka Edge get alloy wheels. Prices start low, but from there it’s only an upward trajectory, reaching a high price point for a small car. Ford recently unveiled its new Ford Ka concept - it’ll make production in 2014 with sales in the UK a strong possibility.
Our choice: Ka 1.2 Zetec
Overall, there are seven specifications on offer with the Ford Ka. This includes Studio, Studio Connect, Edge, Zetec, Titanium, Metal and Grand Prix III.
Alloy wheels are available in most of the range, but not with entry-level Studio and Edge models. The Ka is pricey for its size, but even Edge models get manual air-conditioning, electric front windows and remote central locking.
From Zetec and above, you’ll get front fog lights, heated wing mirrors, and 50:50 split rear seats for that extra bit of practicality. It’s a bit of a shame that some of the cheaper materials and radio controls from the Fiat 500 have made their way into the Ka’s cabin.
Still, the interior of the Ford Ka is simple and stylish, easily rivaling the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107. Unfortunately, newer rivals such as the brilliant Volkswagen up!, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii won’t be loosing any sleep overnight.
There’s only one petrol in the engine line-up, a 1.2-litre Duratec engine. It manages a combined 57.7mpg, which is good, but CO2 emissions fall outside the magic tax-free barrier, at 115g/km. Not exactly great, especially when rivals such as the Volkswagen up! offer great BlueMotion engines keeping CO2 emissions low.
It does seem to be able to hold its own on the motorway, though, while subtle tweaks to the suspension and steering mean the Ka is a better drive than its Fiat cousin.
The Ford Ka doesn’t come with the option of an automatic gearbox, but it does get a smooth, five-speed manual gearbox. The Ford Ka will never be as fun to drive as its older brother, the Ford Fiesta, and those considering hi-spec Grand Prix III models might as well opt for the Fiesta instead.
Ford finished 23rd out of a possible 32 in the 2013 Driver Power manufacturer ratings, quite a shock considering how prominent Ford is in the UK market.
Unfortunately, the latest Ford Ka didn’t feature in the survey, but the Fiat 500, on which it is largely based, proved to be one of Fiat’s more reliable models.
The Ka only has two airbags as standard, and as such, received a disappointing four stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. Those wanting extra airbags and stability control will need to specify them as an option. This does let the Ford Ka down a bit considering how competitive the small car class is.
Despite its compact dimensions, the Ford Ka is surprisingly practical. There’s 224 litres of boot space on offer, which beats the Fiat 500 and the Toyota Aygo, but isn’t enough to trouble the Volkswagen up! or the Skoda Citigo.
From Zetec spec and above, all cars get split-folding seats, meaning you can further expand boot space to an impressive 747 litres - not bad for such a small car. It’s just a shame that there’s such a high boot lip, which makes loading bulkier items a bit of a pain.
The Ka’s driving position isn’t great, either - you sit too high and can’t adjust the steering for reach – but visibility is good.
The steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, either, so finding the perfect driving position is that little bit harder. When the new Ford Ka arrives in 2014, it’ll be a lot larger than the current car, and is likely to get a five-door layout.
There’s only one engine on offer with the Ford Ka, but it’s relatively economical, returning 57.7mpg and emitting 115g/km of CO2. It’s cheap to tax, but there isn’t a sub-100g/km tax-free model, which is disappointing.
The Ford Ka isn’t the cheapest of cars, either, and the sheer number of Ford Kas on the road means that residual values aren’t that great. If you try your luck, though, you’re likely to get discounts at a Ford dealer.