In-depth reviews

Ford Ka review (2008-2016) - Engines, performance and drive

The fun factor was dialled down a notch for the second-generation Ka, and powertrain options were limited

Ford seemed to overlook the incredibly positive impact of the sweet-handling Ka Mk1 when engineering the second generation. By choosing to share mechanical bits and platform architecture with the Fiat 500 range for the Mk2, its options were limited from the outset.

To be fair, Ford’s technical team gave the Fiat chassis a thorough overhaul, with a new anti-roll bar allowing softer damping, but the Ka still fell a little short of class standards. 

Ford Ka city car front

Happily, the tweaks to the suspension and steering at least helped make the Ka sharper to drive than its Italian cousin. The steering is precise, body movement is well checked and there’s decent grip. While many drivers will appreciate these qualities, those hoping for a bit more zest will feel the Ka Mk2 is nowhere near as much fun as a Ford Fiesta, or indeed as the trend-setting Ka Mk1.

So it's not especially thrilling to drive, but in its favour the Ford feels remarkably stable and relaxed, and is capable of tackling long journeys without breaking a sweat. Only the occasionally fidgety ride at lower speed on bumpy surfaces gives any real cause for concern, and on longer journeys the wind and tyre noise may become intrusive – newer rivals offer better refinement these days.

Engines

The Ford Ka was available with two engines: a 1.3 TDCi diesel and a 1.2 Duratec petrol, although both were just rebadged Fiat units. The 1.2 petrol is the one to go for, although the 68bhp unit can sound strained at motorway speeds. But it’s coupled with a five-speed manual gearbox that’s slick and easy to live with.

Otherwise, the engine is a smooth and reasonably spirited performer and feels happy to be worked hard. Even so, Ford claimed a leisurely time of 13.4 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint, meaning the Ka struggled to keep up with the standard-setting VW Group city car trio – the Skoda Citigo, SEAT Mii and Volkswagen up! – all of which use a smaller 1.0-litre engine. Ford claimed a 99mph top speed for the Ka petrol, too.

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