New Ford Ka is better in every way

Testing Times with Padraic Deane...

Shortly after the original Ka went on sale 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.

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, and when I picked up the new Ka 1.2 litre (petrol ) Titanium for a week’s testing, it gave me a reassuring feeling.

While the new Ka is more conservative, it still attracts those interesting looks and is a better vehicle. Ford’s kinetic design philosophy is a bit funky, even chunky, 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 a 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 it is similar in length to the original model.

It is actually 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.

From the outside, this starts with alloy wheels and front fog-lights, and inside there is MP3 connectivity and four-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 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 Style. And if you want electronic automatic temperature control, 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 had 15" multi-spoke alloy wheels, body colour door handles and tailgate handle, and 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 is that ESP is not standard on the Ka.

For the first time the Ka is offered with a choice of engines. In addition to the 1.2 litre 70bhp Duratec petrol engine in my test car, a 1.3 litre 75bhp 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 well. It is quick without being fast and offers 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.

Ford Ka 1.2 Titanium

Performance:

Bhp / rpm: 68 bhp @ 5500 rpm

0 - 100 km/sec (0 - 62 mph/sec ): 13.1

Efficiency:

Fuel Consumption combined cycle - L/100 km (mpg ):

5.1 (55 )

CO2 Emissions combined G/km: 119

Tax Band: A

Warranty: Up to 2 Years unlimited mileage

Costs:

Annual Road Tax: €104

Entry Level Price (ex works ): €11,535 (Style )

Safety:

Air Bags: 2

ESP (equivalent ): Option for €605

Other options: Chevrolet Matiz; Citroen C1 or C2; Fiat Panda or 500; Hyundai i10; Kia Picanto; Opel Agila; Peugeot 107; Renault Twingo; Subaru Justy; Suzuki Alto; Toyota Aygo; and Volkswagen Fox.

 

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