Pretty, Practical, Well Made.
New Body Hugely Better Than Original Bland, Cheap Looking Design.
Stylish Options Make Personalisation Easy.
I Still Think The Name Is Dopey Though.
**** out of 5
IBIZA, Spain It is Ka as in shah, but not to be confused with car. The name of Ford’s smallest car has always been a bone of contention, but the Ka has been a big success since it first appeared with that daft name in 1996.
I have to admit that I always found the body design of the outgoing Ka pretty awful, but the new one hits the spot. It looks great from most angles, if a bit reminiscent of its bigger sibling, the Fiesta. That’s no bad thing; the Fiesta is a lovely looking little car. Ford says the design is another version of its “kinetic” styling, which is a pretty meaningless word, but if you look at the new Kuga SUV, Fiesta, and Focus, you can see a common dominator shining through.
I’ve just spent a couple of days driving the new Ford Ka around this Spanish island in the Mediterranean, famous for providing hedonistic holidays for under 30s, and it looks like a winner. Its sharp-looking body turned heads. The body and interior is full of nifty design cues including the eye-catching steering wheel and over-sized interior grab-handles. The dashboard dials look classy. The centre console has “aluminium” facing which works well. The overall impact is certainly not cheap-and cheerful as you might expect.
From the slit-eye headlights, the smiling grille and the jaunty looking rear end, the design is a delight on the eye. If you want to make your Ka look different, Ford offers easy ways to personalise it with the Grand Prix’s go-faster stripes, Digital Art, which sports an off-centre stripe in garish green on a black body, and the Tattoo, which sports an er tattoo. Let’s hope it’s removable. Each of these concepts features nifty interior and upholstery designs too. There is a range of new pastel colours, some mightily attractive, others will make you feel a bit queasy.
There is a choice of two engines – a 1.2 litre petrol and 1.3 litre diesel. There’s no automatic, a surprising omission for a city car. Both engines and the basic body underpinnings come from Fiat, because the Ka is built in a joint venture with the Italian company. Fiat’s cute little 500, its utilitarian Panda and the Ka all trundle down the same production line in Tychy, Poland.
There are four versions with the Studio starting at £7,995-€9,900 which includes electric power assisted steering, ABS brakes, two airbags, six speakers, CD, and MP3 compatibility. The Style, from £8,495-€10,500 adds powered and heated mirrors, electric front windows, and remote central locking. You have to spend £1,000-€1,250 over the base model to get air conditioning in the Style Plus from £8,995-€11,150, which also provides a heated windscreen.
Diesel costs £700
The Zetec costs from £9,494-€11,750 and this includes 15-inch wheels and front fog lamps. Pay another £700-€860 and get the diesel.
The Ka drives very well, with sharp steering and terrific suspension. There is a surprising amount of room in the front, particularly for the passenger. The back seats look more spacious than the Fiat 500s, which seems weird when they are versions of the same car. The boot is surprisingly deep and spacious for a weeny machine. The diesel version provides the best performance – energetic, torquey – but is noisier than the petrol engine. The 5-speed manual gearbox does a great job. The petrol 1.2 feels a bit gutless, but this is a little car after all, and for this kind of money, performance must be an afterthought. Ford claims that the 1.2 petrol will do an average 55.4 mpg-5.1 l/kms, while the diesel can achieve 67.3 mpg-4.2 l/kms.
In a clever marketing move, Ford of Europe managed to arrange a bit part for the Ka in the new James Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace”, which is on world release now. Bond girl Camille, played by Olga Kurylenko drives a smart, bronze-coloured version of the Ka.
So where did Ford dig up that weird name? It apparently means ”the vital spirit within man” in Egyptian mythology. That at least shows Ford left no stone unturned in its search.
Neil Winton – November 10, 2008
|Engine:||1.2 litre 4-cylinder petrol|
|Power:||67 bhp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque:||102 Nm @ 3,000|
|Gearbox:||five speed manual|
|Acceleration:||0-62/100 km/h – 13.1|
|Top Speed:||99 mph-159 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 55.4 mpg-5.1 l/kms
|Boot capacity:||224 litres/747|
|Competition:||Fiat Panda, Fiat 500, Smart ForTwo, Daihatsu Sirion, Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107, Kia Picanto, Chevrolet Matiz, Hyundai Amica, Mitsubishi iCar, Perodia Kelisa, Proton Savvy, Renault Twingo, Suzuki Wagon R, Vauxhall Agila, VW Fox|
|Price:||£7,995-€9,900 – on sale in January|
|For:||cute, drives well|
|Against:||daft name, huge competition|