Ford Ka+ front

heycar review

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    Great value for money

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    Surprisingly spacious

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    Fun to drive

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    Cheap to run

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    Fashionable little car

Need to know

The Ford Ka is dead. Yet strangely its successor the Ka+ has more in common with the current Fiesta supermini than the original iconic three-door model. With five doors, a tall roof and boxy shape, it straddles the line between supermini and city car. So while it’s priced to compete with the latter, it offers comparable passenger and luggage space to the former. It was dropped from Ford’s UK model range at the end of 2019, after just three years on sale.Unlike many of the brand’s other models, the Ka+ is offered with a limited set of engines, two petrol 1.2-litre non-turbos (with a measly 69 or 84bhp) and a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel with 95bhp. There are two trim levels: Studio and Zetec, but the entry-level version is only available with the least powerful petrol, so you have to step-up to a Zetec if you want better performance. Regardless of the engine you pick, power is sent to the front wheels via a manual gearbox.

Common questions

  • What is the difference between the Ka and the Ka+?

    The Ka was a three-door only city car that was first launched in 1996 and was replaced by a model that shared its mechanical underpinnings with the Fiat 500. The newer five-door Ka+ is actually based on the Fiesta, but shorter, and with a much roomier interior than the old car.

  • Is the Ford Ka+ a good car?

    As a budget option, the Ka+ is spacious, drives well and is practical for a small car. However, it doesn’t have a great crash safety rating, nor the most modern or flexible of petrol engines.

  • What is the Ka+ Active?

    Added to the range in the middle of 2018 the Active Ka+ adds SUV style to the exterior. It has chunkier bumpers and thick underbody protection, jacked up suspension and roof rails.

  • How is the Ford Ka pronounced?

    According to Ford, the official pronunciation is ‘kah’ and not ‘kay-ay’ but people often use the latter to avoid confusion, since otherwise it sounds like ‘Ford Car’ instead of a single model.

  • Can I have the Ka+ with an automatic gearbox?

    No sadly not. It was never sold in the UK with the option of Ford’s Poweshift six-speed auto gearbox, so buyers looking for a self-shifting city car should look elsewhere for their next car.

Exterior design

The original Ka (1996 - 2008) was a cute, instantly recognizable "90"s design. It’s successor was considerably less striking, and the Ka+ is another fairly large step in the wrong direction.Ford’s ubiquitous horizontal chrome grille is about the only interesting feature, the rest of the car is simply an anonymous looking blob. True, the ‘Active’ version does improve things, with the SUV-inspired cladding, rear privacy glass, and a vibrant Canyon Orange metallic paint. If you pick the entry-level Studio then you don’t get alloy wheels, and the plastic wheels covers for the steel rims don’t even make a vague attempt to look like more expensive alloys. Zetec and Active Ka+s each get their own set of 15-inch alloys, but most rivals look more exciting.

Interior design

Another area that the Ka+ trails its competitors is the execution and layout of its cabin. Every model gets the basic equipment, like Bluetooth, front electric windows and an alarm, but you need to upgrade to the Zetec trim for creature comforts like cruise control, a leather steering wheel, and air-conditioning. The materials are cheap, but there is also no flair or imagination to the dash design. It’s a sea of hard black plastics, the infotainment screen (where fitted) is tiny and deeply recessed in the dashboard, even the layout of the speedo is dull and dated. In fact the only thing the Ka+ has on its side is space, since it has better head and legroom than most city cars, and a 270-litre boot that isn’t cleverly designed, but is certainly spacious. The SYNC system standard on the Zetec and Active versions does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, and you can also add heated seats, parking sensors and a ‘QuickClear’ heated windscreen that is a real time saver on frosty winter mornings.

What to look out for 

Because it lacks a turbocharger, the 1.2-litre engine feels gutless and slow, even in its 84bhp guise, so we would strongly suggest avoiding the entry-level version. The (marginally) faster model is also more efficient, returning a claimed 56.5mpg and emitting 114g/km. Those stats are fine, but not even close to class-leading. The diesel is more frugal, with a CO2 output of 99g/km and claimed 76.3mpg economy, but it’s rare to find one second hand, since it was sold in very limited numbers. The one thing the Ka+ does have going for it is that like its sibling the Fiesta, it’s nice to drive, with a supple ride, communicative steering and good grip, but the engines let it down badly, even if you only plan on driving it on short journeys in town.

What we think

The Ford Ka+ is a very affordable, spacious city car that is good to drive and should also be cheap to run. However its disappointing engines, bland looks and poor interior hold it back. The cheaper Dacia Sandero offers more space, and most rival superminis have nicer cabins.

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