Ford Ka 2006 review

It's a sheep in wolf's clothing, so should Ford's new Ka be first choice for young motorists looking for a bargain?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

When it comes to sporty hatchbacks, the sheep in wolf's clothing approach makes sense for young drivers wanting to keep costs down. But, as our test car proves, buyers need to pick and mix carefully from Ford's accessories range to avoid getting a big bill - particularly when the basic Ka is such great value for money.

Cars with big wings and powerful engines may top the wish lists of many young motorists, but hefty insurance premiums make them expensive extras for new drivers. However, for those who want to stand out and still watch the pennies, Ford thinks it may have the answer.

Thanks to the blue oval's accessories department, any model can be personalised with an assortment of visual upgrades. So, to see what's on offer, we tried a basic 1.3-litre-engined Ka Collection with a racy bodykit. As it has a group three insurance rating, it should appeal to style-conscious drivers on a budget. But how does it shape up?

At first glance, the upgraded model resembles the more powerful Sportka - but on closer inspection, the design doesn't have the same cohesion. While the bold headlight surrounds, aggressive grille and ground-hugging side skirts stand out, they don't mix well with the Ka's cheeky curves. But these dramatic looks didn't continue inside our test car. White dials and a leather trim for the steering wheel are standard on the Collection, but it's a shame you can't order the body-coloured seat squabs and alloy gearknob which brighten up the Sportka's interior so much.

Still, as with all Kas, this machine is great to drive. While the engine offers only 69bhp, throttle response is sharp and the car feels faster than the 14.1-second 0-60mph time suggests. The five-speed gearbox is snappy, too, and the steering provides plenty of feedback. Our model had lowering springs which reduce body roll and make the handling even more agile.

When you tot it all up, though, the springs, bodykit and alloy wheels fitted to this model increase the Collection's £8,595 price by around £2,400 - and that's before fitting, which would take the total to about £11,500. For buyers wanting a racy little Ford, the better-looking, more powerful Sportka clearly makes sense at £10,300.

Alternatively, young drivers on a budget can't go far wrong with the basic 1.3 Style model, which weighs in at only £7,595.

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