The first bubble-shaped Ford Ka made a big impact with its cartoonish looks. The second incarnation arrived in 2009 with a much more sober design, although it was roughly the same size. It looks a bit bigger thanks to its higher roof line. The newer Ka shares engines and some parts with the Fiat 500 but overall looks a more grown-up car.
It’s a 3-door hatchback with very short overhangs so the wheels sit right at the corners of the body to maximise cabin space. There are sleek curves and distinct side-lines, creating a forward-looking, purposeful stance. All cars come with body-coloured bumpers; some have steel wheels, others alloy.
The newer Ka shares engines and some parts with the Fiat 500 but overall looks a more grown-up car.
What’s it like to drive?
The Ka is designed for nipping around urban roads and that’s where it excels. The standard power steering is light and the car feels agile.
The baby Ford rides over potholes without losing composure. It’s fun for the driver, thanks to those responsive controls and nippy engines. Gear changes are slick and positive, with the 5-speed manual box that all Kas use being mounted unusually high on the centre console, closer to the steering wheel. At just 3.5 metres long, you’ll be able to easily park and have plenty of room behind to get into its admittedly small boot.
Passengers generally find the Ka comfortable and refined among city cars. It remains smooth even on the motorway where some city cars struggle. Note that some versions come with an anti-skid stability control system — and all have anti-lock brakes.
The Ka is designed for nipping around urban roads and that’s where it excels.
All city cars are obviously tight on cabin space as they’re so small. With only 3 doors and a miniature body, the Ka is small, though feels less cramped than most rivals, thanks to some clever interior design. Legroom is obviously restricted by the sheer footprint of the vehicle. The high roof creates good head- and shoulder-room inside.
The design of the cabin is a step up from many city cars — there is no bare painted metal on show and various optional customisation packages allowed cars to be created with details like coloured central consoles and air vents. Some even have individual graphics. Dependant on your taste these can look daft or add a much-needed jazzy vibe. The thin looking seats are actually comfortable and that small 3-spoke steering wheel feels cool and sporty.
The long original options list allowed buyers to customise their Ka. If you shop around you can find versions with important extras like air conditioning, remote locking and electric front windows. Ford’s heated windscreen is a very useful feature to look out for too. Others may have been fitted with extra luxuries like up-rated stereos, remote audio controls, heated seats and parking sensors.
The second-generation Ka has a much bigger boot than before and it compares well with its rivals. Note that not all versions have folding back seats to enlarge the load space.
Generally the Ka’s cabin storage is good, with a cup-holder, phone tray, door bins and big glovebox. The driving position is good due to the height adjustments for the driver’s seat is height adjustable and rake adjustments for the steering wheel. Some come with very handy heated and electrically adjusted door mirrors.
Safety kit is fairly basic. Both front seat occupants are protected by standard fit airbags and most versions have fixing points for child car seats. The standard fit anti-lock brakes are an important feature at this price range too.
Running costs and reliability
There are a couple of petrol versions and a diesel. Emissions are low and power-wise there’s not much difference between the engines. The diesel is a bit more economical with up to 67mpg in a perfect world, petrol models will be up to 55mpg in comparison.
Compared to rivals the bigger savings will probably come from tax, insurance and running costs, which should be very low partially thanks to Ford’s cheap parts and servicing.
The engines have already been tried and tested in other cars and few problems have been reported. Ford’s reliability is usually among the best of the mainstream manufacturers.
What cinch loves
The Ford Ka was always a fun city car to drive. The second generation gave it serious credentials too. It looked like a proper scaled-down version of a bigger hatchback and was comfortable to be in, whether nipping round town or cruising on the motorway. Best of all, the Ka is easy and cheap to own.