Ford Ka 1.2 Zetec

Blue oval baby is in Britain at last. So is it a winner?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

With 500,000 examples sold in the UK alone, the first Ka is a hard act to follow – yet the latest model is a decent successor. The ride and handling are tidy, if not quite as edgy as the original’s. However, the newcomer is safer, more spacious and better equipped than before. Lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy confirm it as a truly accomplished city car.

Nearly 13 years after the original hit the production line, the all-new Ford Ka has finally arrived on UK roads – and Auto Express has driven it.

The Ka shares its engine and underpinnings with Fiat’s 500 and Panda. So, unlike its new Fiesta big brother, it’s not Ford through-and-through.

That’s no bad thing, though, as both Fiats have been very successful for the Italian brand. They’re great to drive, too – and so is the Ka. The controls are light and smooth, which is perfect for city streets.

The previous Ka was famed for its taut chassis and polished handling, and Ford has worked hard to try to recreate the magic, as well as improving safety, space and materials.

There’s a new rear anti-roll bar to improve rigidity by 70 per cent, and engineers have fettled the suspension, adding new dampers and revised springs to create a more robust front axle.

Point the Ka in the direction of some twisty roads, and the little Ford feels more engaging than its Italian cousins, while the handling is pliant and easy to exploit – if not quite as responsive as before. Add uprated electric power-steering with extra weight and feel, and the Ka makes for a tidy drive.

The overall package isn’t quite as raw and feisty as the original Ka, as is to be expected with all the extra bulk and equipment on the new model.

With instant responses, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is ideal for a nippy little city car, and it’s more than happy to rev.

As well as offering an excellent driving experience, the Ka’s fresh ‘kinetic’ styling has kept it up to date with Ford’s family look, and the nose is strongly influenced by the Fiesta’s. Yet at the rear, the newcomer pays homage to its predecessor with a curvy screen and high-set rear bumper.

Inside, there’s more room than in the outgoing car, and the teardrop-style dashboard has been replaced by a large, white centre console with well laid-out controls.

So is the new Ka everything we hoped for? Not quite – it’s not as scalpel-sharp as the original, but it still easily outshines its rivals in so many ways.

Rival: Renault Twingo The cute little Twingo is easy to drive, but the standard chassis suffers from far too much body roll and it’s nowhere near as refined as the new Ford.

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