The Ford Ka+ Active takes a fun and affordable small car and gives it a neat SUV makeover, but loses some of its fun and affordability in the process
If you are after a runaround in the mould of a Hyundai i10 or Toyota Aygo but want some SUV styling the Ford Ka+ Active could be the car for you.
When you think Ford Ka, chances are you’re thinking of the cute three-door small car that seemed to be around forever, but that was actually replaced in 2016 with the five-door Ka+. This Active car came along 2018. You can also get Active versions of the Fiesta and Focus.
The Ford Ka+ Active is a trim in its own right, so there are no further choices, but you do get to choose between a three-cylinder 1.2 petrol engine or a four-cylinder 1.5 diesel.
Marking the Ford Ka+ Active out from the standard car are the body cladding on the wheel arches, its unique grille design and the silver roof rails. Other styling touches that enhance that SUV look include the 15-inch alloy wheels and there’s also an extra colour option called Canyon Ridge which sounds fancy but is essentially a metallically bronze. The Ford Ka+ Active is a little taller, longer and wider too.
Sitting in the driver’s seat you’re faced with a lot of black plastic across the dashboard. It feels cheap and scratchy, but durable… There’s brown stitching on the leather steering wheel and the seats have the unique fabric designs in the same brown to distract from the mass of black plastic. There are smart metal scuff plates with the Active logo on the front door thresholds too.
I’m not convinced sticking roof rails on a car suddenly makes it an ‘Active’ lifestyle SUV. but if you like how this car looks, great.
The dashboard is broken up by a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen that houses Ford’s SYNC 3 phone and entertainment system. This allows you to control audio and connected smartphones and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a good touchscreen system, but can be a little distracting to use on the go, although you can simply use voice commands. Steering wheel mounted audio controls help too.
You get a couple of USB ports underneath the air-con controls and other standard kit is pretty good – front passengers get power windows, while those in the rear get privacy glass. You get rain-sensitive wipers and Ford’s Quickclear, which is ace at clearing frosty windscreens in seconds.
If your knees or hips aren’t quite what they used to be, then the raised suspension that gives the Ford Ka+ Active its SUV looks brings the additional benefits of being slightly easier to get in and out of.
While the driver’s seat have height adjustment, the steering wheel adjusts up and down only (not in and out) so finding a comfortable driving position is trickier than it could be.
Storage is ok – when you sit in the front. There is a deep glove compartment and a couple of shelves for phones and keys etc. Those in the front get door bins big enough for a large water bottle and a couple of cup holders in the central armrest between driver and passenger. Passengers in the back have to make do with reaching forward to two cup holders between the front two seats – and there are no door bins to speak of.
Everyone (front and back) should be fine for headroom, but thanks to the lump in the rear floor and a thin middle seat three adults won’t be comfortable in the back. You can fit two child seats to the isofix mountings in the rear seats and there are no fiddly covers to access them.
Ford Ka+ Active boot space is pretty good – at 270 litres it is has one of the biggest boots in its class which is enough to take four full shopping bags. You have to haul heavy bags over a lip to get them into the boot however, and as you lift bags out, it’s all too easy to knock the loosely fitting parcel shelf out of position.
The rear seats split 60/40 if you need extra loadspace but they don’t fold flat, instead creating a large step in the middle.
You can get a Ford Ka+ Active with a 1.5 turbo diesel engine that averages nearly 70mpg, but it costs over £14,500, so you’d really have to do a lot of miles to go for this engine over the 1.2 85hp petrol engine.
The three-cylinder petrol is not particularly smooth or quiet, nor is it particularly powerful – which means you have to plan your overtaking manoeuvres carefully and change down gear if you are going up particularly steep hills. Average fuel economy is 49.6mpg, but in real world driving expect that to drop to nearer 40mpg.
Both engines come with a five-speed manual gearbox – you can’t get an automatic Ka+ Active.
The standard Ka+ is pretty fun to drive and that’s almost true of the Active but being that wee bit taller it rolls around a bit more when you go too quickly around a corner. Road and wind noise isn’t an issue as any noise is drowned out by the engine.
Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the Ford Ka+ Active yet but the safety kit that marks the Ka+ Active out from other similar cars is the fact it comes with Ford MyKey. This allows you to set the maximum speed and audio volume when young or inexperienced drivers get behind the wheel. Parking sensors and hill start assist help too.
The standard Ford Ka+ is a fun-to-drive and cheap-but-bland city car. The Ka+ Active’s SUV looks certainly add a dose of much-needed style. But in doing so it loses some of its fun-to-drive and affordability qualities in the process. You have to decide which is most important to you.