THE ORIGINAL Ford Ka shook up the world of small cars in the mid-Nineties, catching on like a Spice Girls song and staying at the top of the sales charts for so long that Ford executives extended its intended shelf life by years. Buyers were won over by its modest price, its low running costs and, especially, its distinctive, funky design.
Now Ford is hoping to repeat that success with the third-generation version of the Ka, to be called KA+. Due to go on sale this month, it will cost from £8,995. Anyone that bought one of the original Kas will probably be gasping for breath at this point – those were among the best-value cars money could buy, with prices starting at about £6,500.
Formers owners will also be wondering when the Ka turned so serious. The new model’s styling is decidedly grown-up, with a whiff of the ill-fated Ford Fusion about it.
The styling is in part dictated by a high roofline. Ford emphasises that the car “delivers outstanding interior space” despite being a little shorter than its bigger sibling the Fiesta. The KA+ will be available as a five-door only, and the boot holds up to 270 litres of luggage.
Under the bonnet is a new 1.2-litre petrol engine, which comes in a choice of 69bhp or 84bhp; both are said to emit 114g/km and return 56mpg. If that seems weird … well, it is. By comparison, the most economical Volkswagen Up! can achieve 69mpg and emits 95g/km of CO2.
Despite being a “world car”, the KA+ is said to have been tuned for European drivers. Ford reckons it will be fun to drive, thanks to extensive work on the steering and suspension components, and quiet, because of the great efforts made to reduce road and mechanical noise.
The entry-level variant is called Studio. It has electric front windows and door mirrors, a basic radio with Bluetooth connectivity, central locking with an alarm, six airbags and electronic stability control.
The Zetec trim adds alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning and a DAB radio and CD player with Ford’s Sync voice-activated communications system.
The KA+ will be built in India, and indeed it is essentially the same as Ford India’s Figo. Some commentators say the conservative design of the KA+ is down to the US multinational’s “One Ford” plan. Launched by the former chief executive Alan Mulally, it calls for one-size-fits-all vehicles that can be sold in all markets. Critics say, of course, that it results in bland, inoffensive styling.
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