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A Ford Ka+ review? What’s going on?
Yep, this is our review of the Ford Ka+ - an Indian-built, sub-Fiesta city car that majors on value. Think Hyundai i10 or Vauxhall Viva, rather than VW Up or Fiat 500, and you’re there or thereabouts.
Aren’t Kas supposed to have three doors?
They certainly have in the past. The first was a teapot-like, three-door hatch that was as enjoyable to drive as it was quirky and inventive. It’s even fun now.
Then there was the Mk2, which was essentially a slightly less desirable version of the Fiat 500.
This Mk3, ‘Ka-plus’ is less about style and more about bang for your buck – something to fill the void now that Ford’s canned the cheaper variants of the Fiesta, ready for the next one to move upmarket.
So this car shares a basic platform with the outgoing Fiesta, and is designed to give Ford some decent purchase in the expanding tiny-car class. And you know what? It’s surprisingly good.
Yep, because the last time Ford of Europe pinched a car designed primarily for Asia/South America and stuck it on sale in the UK, we were laboured with the EcoSport – a really quite disappointing (since improved, admittedly) mini crossover. But this time around, Ford seems to have learnt its lesson.
Tweaks like new door seals, better sound-deadening, new suspension bushes and Fiesta-spec engine mounts are supposed to improve the Ka’s general refinement, while myriad chassis, suspension and steering changes ought to make it as good to drive as a small Ford should be. Which is ‘very’.
We’ve only had a punt around London, but things are looking pretty good. You can tell Ford’s poured a lot of time and effort into making this thing feel and act like it was purpose-built for Europe.
The ride is properly comfy over scarred city streets, the steering’s nice, the control weights are bang-on for this kind of car and it’s quiet. That there’s a tiny hint of sporting intent makes things feel all Ford-y – an added bonus we weren’t expecting - but the overall impression is one of maturity.
What’s less good is the engine, a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder with 84bhp. It’s smooth and quiet enough when you’re not pushing on (raucous if you are), but it lacks torque (there’s just 83lb ft of it, and it doesn’t arrive until 4,000rpm) and ultimately, pace.
The 0-62mph time is over 13 seconds and the top speed is 104mph. Not that its owners will care one jot. And in fairness, if you seldom venture outside the M25, it’s entirely sufficient.
Is that the only engine?
Yes, although you can have it with even fewer horsepower if you’re feeling especially parsimonious. Just 69 of them, to be exact.
Sensibly, Ford tells us most buyers are going for the bigger powered one we drove, which is two whole seconds quicker to 62mph (13.3 plays 15.3) and every bit as fuel efficient (56.5mpg, 114g/km). Ford’s excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost would be a good, if pricier, fit, and do better justice to the Ka’s chassis, but as far as we know it’s unlikely to join the range any time soon, if at all.
Do you like the way it looks?
Not really, but hey, who are we to dole out style tips? You might like it.
Tell me about the interior.
Better in here. Sure, the plastics are cheap, but for the most part they’re par for the course. The Fiesta steering-wheel is a nice touch, too.
What’s impressive is the space. ‘Big for the price of small’ is the pitch, and the Ka+ delivers. The boot is an agreeable 270 litres, but it’s passenger space that Ford prioritised.
And sure enough, providing neither of you are freakishly tall, there’s room enough for two average-height adults to sit one behind the other. Good headroom, too (the Ka+ is slightly shorter but 29mm taller than the Fiesta) and much kit comes as standard.
Should I buy one?
It’s definitely worth a look. Prices start at £8,995, rising to north of £10k for one with the big engine and decent equipment levels, which is the one everyone’s buying. And if you’re interested, the one you should, too.