Ford Ka+ Review logo

Ford Ka+ Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2016
      Body type
      City Car
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Budget car with spacious interior”

Best bits

  • Roomier than most city cars
  • Nice to drive
  • Good value in Zetec trim

Not so great

  • Below average fuel economy
  • Bland interior
  • Very slow

Read by

Ford Ka Plus Exterior

Overall verdict

Ford Ka Plus Interior

On the inside

Ford Ka Plus Driving

Driving

Ford Ka Plus Side

How much does it cost to run

Ford Ka Plus Driving Side

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Ford Ka+ reminds us of a sensible pair of school shoes. It's a sturdy, practical car that places value and everyday usability ahead of any pretensions about style or desirability. That makes it stand out in a crowded field of rivals that use bright colours, funky designs and special editions to disguise their cheap origins."

Ford Ka Plus Exterior

That honesty has a certain appeal to it. Ford's smallest model doesn't pretend to be anything it's not, and by focusing on practicality, it ends up being more useable and spacious than most of its peers, at a lower price. You get a roomy cabin that can comfortably fit four adults, carry five when needed, plus a really big boot.


There are smart storage solutions in the cabin, but even by low-class standards build quality is mediocre. You get a sea of unsightly textured grey dash plastics, only broken up by one or two splashes of glossy black trim. It feels flimsy and looks low-rent, especially in pre-facelift models, which feature a very dated dash layout.


The Active model gets some off-road styling upgrades including roof rails, underbody protection and plastic wheel arch protectors, plus raised-up suspension, but it's all mouth and no trousers. A Fiat Panda 4x4 or Suzuki Ignis will both take you a lot further away from the safety of Tarmac than the front-wheel drive Ford.


On the road though, the Ka+ is very pleasant to drive. Its suspension is soft enough to ride smoothly over lumps and bumps in the road without disturbing your passengers, but controlled enough to feel stable too. The steering is light but nicely weighted and confidence-inspiring, and it resists body roll surprisingly well.


It's perfectly capable of tackling busy city streets or hustling down faster country roads while putting a smile on your face and even feels secure and fairly refined at higher speeds on the motorway. The only fly in the ointment is the weak and gutless petrol engine, which really holds the Ka+ back, regardless of power output.


A 1.2-litre three-cylinder that comes with either 70PS in the entry-level Studio or up to 84PS in the Zetec trim, it's not turbocharged to improve its in-gear response, so feel incredibly slow and gutless at low revs. It also has a very flat, wheezy power delivery that means you need to thrash it to get moving, spoiling its refinement.


We could see past its lacklustre performance if the Ka+ was super economical, but official figures of under 50mpg are average at best. There's a 1.5-litre diesel that's quicker and more efficient, but it's not as smooth as the petrols, ill-suited to shorter trips, and far too expensive to recommend - it's also universally unpopular.


For that reason, the Ka+ is best enjoyed with the 85PS petrol engine, in Zetec trim. It doesn't come as nicely equipped as some, but you do get a 6.5-inch touchscreen, smartphone mirroring, air-con and cruise control. As an overall package, it has its shortcomings but will suit buyers on a tight budget who need decent space.


If you're looking for the previous version, you need our Ford Ka (2008-2016) review.

Is the Ford Ka+ right for you?

If you are hunting for a small car bargain, the Ka+ gives you almost as much cabin and boot space as larger superminis such as the Skoda Fabia and Kia Rio, but manages to undercut them on the price by a tidy margin.


The trade-off is a below-average safety rating, limited engine range and no automatic gearbox option. As long as you don't mind these compromises, it's surprisingly decent to drive but too slow to travel longer distances.


Younger drivers who want a dash of style and the latest on-board technology will not be thrilled with the plain and dowdy looking Ford, although it will be cheap to insure and shouldn't cost you too much in petrol either.


We'd be tempted to drive a hard bargain at the Ford dealer on a new Fiesta and take it over a used Ka+. The difference in monthly cost will be minimal, but it's a much better resolved small car in almost every respect.

What’s the best Ka+ model/engine to choose?

We would urge people to choose the higher powered 85PS version of the 1.2-litre three-cylinder. It's no rocket ship, but boosts the Ka's performance up from 'dangerously slow' and towards 'tolerably sedate' instead.


The only reason to pick the 70PS model is if you need the lowest possible insurance rating since it's also less economical on fuel, and only fractionally cheaper to buy than the quicker version in the same specification.


However, the 84PS engine is only available on Zetec models. That's good news though, since it's the best choice in terms of value and standard equipment - adding essentials like air-conditioning and a touchscreen.


Unless your lifestyle or location demands regular trips up muddy country lanes, then we can't see a need to pick the Active model. It's not as capable as a Fiat Panda 4x4, but nearly as expensive, and spoils the ride.

What other cars are similar to the Ford Ka+?

For buyers who want a bit of panache from their city cars (and who doesn't?) then the Toyota Aygo, Renault Twingo and Peugeot 108 are all stylish five-door alternatives, but they're also a bit smaller inside and out.


Size-wise, the Ka+ is closer to cars from the class above, including the Kia Rio and Skoda Fabia. It's a small car for people who regularly need to carry three, and we'd also put the new Hyundai i10 in the same category.


For an all-electric alternative with similar practicality, the Renault Zoe and (to a lesser extent) Volkswagen e-Up offer emissions-free city travel in a compact car package, but they're more than twice as expensive as the Ford.


If your budget is tighter, the Dacia Sandero is roomier and cheaper, with more standard kit, and nippy turbocharged engines. There's also a 'Stepway' version that competes with the off-road inspired Ka+ Active.

Learn more

Ford Ka Plus Interior

On the inside

Ford Ka Plus Driving

Driving

Ford Ka Plus Side

How much does it cost to run

Ford Ka Plus Driving Side

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: 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.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

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.

Russ Campbell

Answered by

Russ Campbell

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.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

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.

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

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.

Russ Campbell

Answered by

Russ Campbell