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New Ford KA – best in class

Thu, 29 Jan 2009

Ford KA - the best drive in its class


The Ford launch we went to today for the new Fiesta ECOnetic also had the new Ford KA to play with, and although we did a review of the Ford KA recently, I had not had the chance to play. So it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so a little blat was had.

The original Ford KA launched to a sceptical world in 1996. What on earth was this odd little car, with its strange styling, we all thought. That’ll never sell. Who’d buy that instead of a Fiesta? Well, we were wrong, and the old KA carved a real niche for itself (almost defining the city-car sector on its own) and carried on selling for 12 years. Not only that, it conspired to look contemporary over a decade later.

So Ford has a hard act to follow with this all new KA. Its starting point, which is a pretty good place to start, was the Fiat 500, which shares its DNA, and is even built in the same factory. But Ford need to differentiate itself, and they seem to have done a pretty fine job.

The Fiat 500 is a bit soft and squidgy, but the new Ford, just like every Ford these days, has very good driving dynamics. It is a great little car to drive. It’s not fast (actually, it’s a bit slow), but it’s happy to rev, and it rides and handles very well. And there’s now a decent amount of room, certainly in the front, compared to the old KA. It’s taller and wider than before (although it’s actually the same length), and for the first time in a KA I actually felt I had enough room (at 6’3″ and 16 stone), although I did manage to keep catching my left foot on the trim – the joys of big feet!. It’s well thought out inside and feels to be good quality, although the plastics are a notch down on those in the Fiesta. And if you’ve ever driven a Fiat 500 you’ll have no trouble finding your way round the KA – almost everything is in the same place.

It’s hard to find fault with the new KA. It does what it’s supposed to do – be a city car – extremely well. In truth you won’t get much chance in a city environment to push the car, so the lack of performance isn’t really an issue. It’s fun to drive and looks great, inside and out. It feels linked to the old KA (very reminiscent from the back) but a 21st century version, which must be pretty much what Ford had in mind. It’s economical (the 1.2 petrol – a Fiat engine – averages 55mpg and 119g/km Co2. The Diesel – another Fiat unit – manages 67mpg and 112g/km Co2), practical and reasonably priced (between around £8k and £10k).

The big seller is going to be the petrol car. Cheaper to buy, and not much thirstier, it’s also more enjoyable to drive. The Zetec, with its extra toys, is the pick of the range. It feels more grown up; a little big car, if you like.

This is a very good car. It’s not retro and cool like the Fiat 500, instead its modern and stylish and it ticks all the right boxes. Ford expect a lot of down-sizers to try the KA. If they do, they won’t be disappointed.

By Cars UK