Room for the Cybermen
The Mark 1 Ford Ka was a cute 3-door super-mini that offered cheap-as-chips motoring. The fact that it drove really well was a bonus. In 2017, basic small car’s are no longer what customers want, so Ford’s latest city-car, the 5-door Ka+ brings the model up to date, replacing the Ka 3-door, but also less expensive versions of the slightly larger Fiesta. With the range starting at £8,995 & the Zebec costing from £9,995, it’s also competitively priced.
This entry level price is partly due to the fact that the Ka+ is being built in India, where Suzuki are currently the No1 car seller. What Ford have realised though, is that European market customers expect a high quality product & they have engineered the Ka+ accordingly. The European Ka+ gets a 47% stiffer front anti-roll bar, new springs & dampers, Fiesta-spec hydraulic engine mounts, more sound deadening, different door seals, new rear suspension bushes, aero tweaks for less turbulence, a stiffer front sub frame, faster steering & revised suspension geometry, than it’s Indian counterpart
In what is a very competitive sector, the Ka+ is up against the Hyundai i10, recently launched Kia Picanto, Vauxhall Viva & brand new Suzuki Swift.
What Ford haven’t done though with the Ka+, is to offer it with endless personalisation options, a trend started by MINI & DS. This Ford is much more of a practical proposition & whilst the functionality of the cabin, the great standard equipment & the space on offer is exceptional, it’s rather bland looks aren’t likely to win it many young customers, exactly the kind of customer the original Ka appealed to.
Ford have kept the Ka+ model range very simple, with just two engines & two trims on offer. There are two 1.2-litre petrol engines, 70hp and 85hp. Studio trim comes only with the less powerful 70hp engine, with our test car the Zetec, available with both variants. Studio models offer, front fog lights, speed limiter, hill start assist, traction control, a trip computer, alarm, 15” steel wheels with wheel covers, electric front windows & door mirrors, an AM/FM radio with a Smartphone dock, plus Bluetooth & USB connectivity.
Stepping up to Zetec trim gets you more of the stuff you’ll probably want & this spec adds 15 ” alloys, manual air-con, DAB with a 4.2” screen & cruise control. Our test car, retailing at £10,845, came with added heated front seats, Ingot Silver paint the City pack featuring rear parking sensors, power heated folding mirrors & rear windows, plus a 14″ steel spare wheel, taking the price up to £11,980. Ford’s MyKey safety system is also standard. This lets parents set a maximum speed and audio volume level for their children when driving, with these settings saved within one of the keys, encouraging young drivers to drive responsibly. Speeding won’t be too much of an issue though, as even the 85hp version feels underpowered. This version accelerates from a standstill to 62mph in 13.3 seconds going onto reach a top speed of 105mph. If that’s too fast, the 70hp version takes 15.3 seconds to hit 62mph.
Ford have built the Ka+ to be practical. There’s a 270-litre boot including 13 litres of underfloor space. Lower the rear seats & this increases to 849 litres. There are also 21 different storage locations, with at least 5 cup holders.
Around town the Zetec 85hp version is a happy bunny & will be all that you want of a super-mini city car. It’s small dimensions make it easy to manoeuvre & to park & the five doors make getting in & out simple as well. Head out onto the motorway though & the lack of oomph becomes far more noticeable. To keep up with faster traffic on the motorway, you need to work the engine hard, as it takes a while to build up any speed. Once you hit 70 mph though & set cruise control, which is fitted to the Zetec Ka+, it will sit comfortably & makes for a comfortable ride, especially compared to some of the competition.
Small cars should offer great fuel economy, with low emissions as well. Here the Ka+ disappoints, with the claimed fuel economy being 56.5mpg – I managed a much lower 39.9 mpg – with emissions of 114g/km, which again is high in a sector where sub-100g is on offer.
In conclusion, the Ka+ does some things really well. It’s competitively priced, it’s good to drive especially in town. It comes very well equipped & offers a lot of practical space, both in the cabin, where four adults will sit comfortably & with it’s large 270 litre boot. What let’s it down though, are it’s bland looks, high CO2 emissions & so-so fuel economy. If you want Ford quality, then the Ka+ does deliver, but if you want an attractive super-mini with lower emissions & better fuel economy, others do it better.
A Doctor Who 3/5