Shortly after the original Ka went on sale back in 1996, I recall seeing one that had been involved in a serious collision. The single occupant survived with remarkably minor injuries. This helped give me a new respect for the structural designers of small cars.
So imagine when I learned that the new Ka is being built from a lighter, but firmer bodyshell to further enhance safety in the event of a crash. It also includes Ford’s highly regarded Intelligent Protection System. It all came back to me when I picked up the new Ka 1.2 litre (petrol ) Titanium for a week long test and it strangely gave me a feeling of reassurance.
The design of the original model also attracted a lot of attention when it first appeared and while the new Ka is more conservative, it still attracts those interested looks and is a better car.
Their kinetic design philosophy is a bit funky, even chunky, but yet it is cute. And it’s appealing inside too. The instrument panel works well, and the two-tone seats and striking centre console are finished in bold contrasts and expressive colours.
The new Ka is actually based on the popular Fiat 500/Panda platform, but the compact body and mechanics are very much Ford. It’s wider, taller and about 50kg heavier but a similar length to the original model.
It’s actually very spacious for a mini-car, carrying four adults in comfort and there is no shortage of clever and convenient stowage compartments.
With an entry price of €11,535 ex-works for the Style 1.2, it is about €800 below the price tag of the outgoing model. And Ford claims it also has a higher level of specification.
And indeed from the outside, this starts with alloy wheels and front fog-lights, and inside there is MP3 connectivity and a 4-speaker radio CD. The Bluetooth with hands-free and USB system lets you make, receive or refuse calls using your voice or the steering wheel controls. Plus, it lets you play music in a variety of formats from a memory stick, iPod or other MP3 player via the USB connection (optional ).
However, in this very price conscious environment there is no air-conditioning as standard. Manual control air-con with a pollen filter is standard on the Titanium version, but is a €705 option on the Style. And if you want Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC ), it is a €305 option on Titanium models only.
My Ka Titanium test car had air conditioning, electric windows, heated electric mirrors and remote central locking all standard. It also has 15" multi-spoke alloy wheels; body colour door handles and tailgate handle, door mirror housings with power-operated and heated mirrors. The body colour exterior rounds off the Titanium offering. You also get dead-light courtesy light delay; front and rear premium velour mats, a headliner stowage net and remote central/double locking with retractable key.
A minus point in relation to the new Ford Ka is that ESP isn't standard on the new Ka.
And for the first time, the new Ka is offered with a choice of engines. In addition to the 1.2 litre 70 bhp Duratec petrol engine in my test car, a 1.3 litre 75 bhp Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel is also offered. Both are low-carbon, emitting less than 120g/km CO2, attracting lowest road tax of just €104 per annum.
The 1.2 litre engined Ka drives very well. It is quick without being fast and offers very precise handling. It has a bigger car feel and Ford’s chassis dynamics provide great drivability. It also rides smoothly, like a car from the class above. This is equally good about town and on the open road at higher speeds. In fact it has many Fiesta driving characteristics.
The new Ka appeals to me. It is a sensible car at a great price. And it drives very well.