The original Ford Ka had become an icon since going on sale in 1996, so replacing it was never going to be easy. In 2009, it finally made way for a more grown-up MkII car, developed jointly with the Fiat 500 – and at launch, we declared the new Ka a class leader.
Some talented rivals have come along in the meantime, and high list prices mean the second-generation Ka isn’t necessarily the default option for buyers seeking great value for money. Still, if you can find one at the right price, it makes a brilliant used buy.
The Mk2 Ford Ka arrived in dealers in January 2009. From the outset, there were 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol or 74bhp 1.3 diesel engines, each with a five-speed manual gearbox. The choice of trims was nowhere near as simple, though, with Studio, Style, Style+, Edge, Zetec and Titanium models.
Since launch, Ford has also offered Grand Prix, Digital and Tattoo trim packs; these bring distinctive colours and graphics and allow buyers to personalise their cars. By March 2011, Tattoo had been superseded by Metal, with black and chrome trim.
Of course, there’s the Fiat 500, which shares the Ka’s platform and running gear; its design is more distinctive, but it isn’t as good to drive and values tend to be higher.
Meanwhile, the Renault Twingo is great value and neatly styled. It’s just not as exciting behind the wheel, or as refined, as the Ford. Also worth a look are the Citroen C1, Peugeot 107 and Toyota Aygo – they’re fun, nippy and cheap, yet feel flimsy in comparison.
The Hyundai i10 and its Kia Picanto cousin are cheaper to buy than the Ka. They’re not as solidly built, but are agile, nippy and reliable. Plus, they’re frugal, even without a diesel option, and they have five doors.