Ford Ka review
The Ford Ka may be stylish, but it now severely lags behind the Volkswagen up! in the city car stakes
The latest Ford Ka is the result of a collaboration between Fiat and Ford, meaning the smallest car in the Ford line-up shares many components and production facilities with the stylish Fiat 500 city-car.
Some argue that the latest Ford Ka is nowhere near as much fun as the original model that took UK markets by storm when it arrived in 1996. However, the Ford Ka is still a versatile little thing, with seven specifications to choose from all-in-all. The line-up kicks off with the entry-level Ka Studio and extends up through to the mid-range Ka Edge and Ka Zetec before ending with the top-spec Ka Metal and Grand Prix III editions. Despite the wide range of specifications, it is worth noting that the only engine available is a 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol unit with a five-speed manual gearbox.
Even at every level, the Ford Ka is packed with kit. The standard list includes MP3-player connectivity and all but the basic cars get alloy wheels. The prices of the Ford Ka start low at around the £9,000 mark, but prices quickly escalate to around £12,000, making it expensive for a small car. What's more, Ford will also launch a new Ka later on in 2014.
Our choice: Ka 1.2 Zetec
There’s a hint of the Ka’s Fiat 500 sister car in its domed roofline but that’s about as far as the family resemblance goes.
Ford’s latest styling devices dominate the Ka’s exterior giving the car a sharp, modern look like a shrunken Fiesta. It’s a different design approach to that of the intensely retro 500 and the original Ka with its distinctive curves but it works well enough.
Ford Ka Studio and Edge models do not get alloy wheels as standard, but Ford fits the latter trim Ka with manual air-conditioning, electric front windows and remote central locking. Whatever way you look at it though, the Ford Ka is still pricey for a city car. The Ford Ka Zetec models and above gets front-fog lamps, heated wing mirrors and 50:50 split rear seats for that extra bit of practicality.
The interior of the Ford Ka is simple, stylish and higher quality than you might expect to find in a city car. Unfortunately, newer rivals such as the brilliant Volkswagen up!, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii won’t be losing any sleep overnight and 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.
The Ford Ka is available with only one engine, a 1.2-litre petrol Duratec with a smooth, five-speed manual gearbox. It manages 57.7mpg on a combined cycle, but with 115g/km of CO2, it still falls outside the tax-free barrier of 100g/km. It's okay, but nothing special when rivals such as the Volkswagen up! BlueMotion can easily dip under the barrier.
Happily, the Ford Ka is able to hold its own on the motorway, and thanks to small tweaks on the suspension and steering, the Ka is better to drive than its Fiat 500 cousin. It's worth remembering though, that the Ford Ka will never be as much fun to drive as its older brother, the Ford Fiesta and those considering the hi-spec Grand Prix III models might as well opt for the Fiesta instead.
The latest Ford Ka didn't feature in the 2014 Driver Power survey, but the Fiat 500 on which it's largely based, proved to be one of the Italian manufacturer's more reliable models.
The Ford 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.
The Ford Ka is surprisingly practical in spite of its tiny dimensions. It gets 224-litres of boot space, which beats the Fiat 500, but isn’t enough to trouble the Volkswagen up! or the Skoda Citigo.
From the Ford Ka Zetec and above, all cars get split-folding seats, meaning you can further expand boot space to an impressive 747 litres. It's not bad for such a small car, but it’s just a shame that there’s such a high boot lip, which makes loading bulkier items a bit of a pain.
The driving position inside the Ford Ka isn’t great, either - you sit too high and can’t adjust the steering for reach – but visibility is good.
The Ford Ka's 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.
Given the Ford Ka only comes with one engine, the 1.2-litre petrol, it's relatively economical and cheap to tax, but it's disappointing that there isn't a sub-100g/km of CO2 tax-free model.
The Ford Ka isn’t the cheapest car to buy either, and the sheer number of them on the road means that residual values aren’t that great. If you try your luck, though, you’re likely to get a discount from a Ford dealer.