Ford Ka+ review
The Ford Ka+ is an affordable city car that competes with a huge range of superminis, but particularly the Vauxhall Viva and Suzuki Celerio. It replaces the old three-door Ka and sits below the Fiesta in Ford’s lineup.
What's not so good
Ford Ka+: what would you like to read next?
The five-door Ka+ is longer than the outgoing Ka, so practicality is a big selling point thanks to impressive front and rear legroom. A 270-litre boot is almost a match for the Fiesta and Ford has crammed the interior with 21 cubbyholes.
The Ka+ is based on the Ford Figo, which is sold in India, but the suspension setup has been overhauled successfully for UK roads and tweaks to the body help reduce wind noise. Low-rolling-resistance tyres and brake-force regeneration help cut down on fuel costs too.
The Ka+ is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine offered in two states of tune – with 69hp or 84hp. Both achieve fuel economy of around 56mpg though the more powerful engine is better if you regularly travel on motorways.
The Ka+ comes in two trim levels and even basic models are generously equipped with electric front windows and door mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, six airbags and remote central locking.
The Ford Ka+ is part of the company’s One Ford policy to sell global models
If you opened this review expecting a new Ka that is just as characterful and stylish as its predecessor you’re in for a surprise, possibly a bad one. However, if all you want is a secure way of getting from A to B, with three other adults and their luggage, in reasonable silence and comfort, even with a hint of driving fun, there are far worse ways of spending £10,000 than on the Ford Ka+.
Ford really wants to stress how much suspension work has gone into the ‘Europeanisation’ of the Ka+, which under the skin is an Indian-market Ford Figo, which itself is based on a Brazilian version of the previous Fiesta generation.
The Ka+ deserves an EcoBoost engine
Let’s start with the not-so-good news first – there isn’t a punchy EcoBoost engine available and there’s no automatic gearbox. That’s a shame because the capable chassis can manage much more power than is currently on offer.
And there isn’t much power on offer – just 69hp from the entry-level version of the Ka+’s 1.2-litre engine. It’s based on the old 1.25 litre from the Fiesta, which loved to rev and felt rewarding to drive. Speed won’t be the reward in the Ka+, though, because the 0-62mph sprint takes 15.3 seconds. Yes, the basic Ka+ is quicker than things such as paint drying or fingernail growth, but don’t be surprised if you see a lorry in your rearview mirror flashing you to get a move on.
A better bet is the ‘high power’ version of the same 1.2-litre that comes with 84hp. It cuts down the 0-62mph time down to 13.3 seconds which is reasonable rather than impressive, but the added torque in the mid range means far fewer gear changes are required to keep up with traffic. The 84hp version makes even more sense than the 69hp when you discover they get the same 56mpg combined fuel consumption figure.
All engines get a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, but a sixth gear is rarely needed and the light and progressive clutch in the Ka+ makes slow driving easy. Should you want the hassle-free driving an automatic provides, the Hyundai i10 and Renault Twingo are the alternatives to go for.
In short, the Ka+ has retained enough Fiesta DNA to make it one of the more enjoyable superminis to drive.
It’s the meaty yet informative steering feel coupled with a ride that is neither too soft to ruin driving fun, nor too harsh to compromise comfort that make the Ka+ so good on the road. It’s a great balance that can only be achieved after many miles of tweaking on UK roads and it’s commendable Ford has gone the extra mile, literally and figuratively.
However, most peoples’ driving lives are spent trundling along in traffic or in tight city streets, so the Ka+ needs to be capable there as well. And it is – the direct steering makes it very easy to place on the road and its accuracy makes you more confident darting into openings in traffic.
Out on the motorway it may struggle to get up to speed, but once cruising the Ka+ is decently hushed inside making long journeys just as care-free as taking the train.
Inside, the Ka+ is not the usual explosion of colour or attractive forms that we’ve come to expect in the supermini class, but instead has a very serious, function-over-form design.