The Fiesta’s gone all upmarket, so Ford’s given us this to fill the entry-level void. It’s called the Ka+, but it shares little with its namesake. That was a teapot-like, three-door hatch that was as much fun to drive as it was quirky and inventive.
And then, in MkII form, effectively a slightly less desirable version of the Fiat 500. The Ka+ has five doors, and, as you might be able to tell, majors not on style, but value.
It’s built in India but comes with Euro-specific parts and tuning to make it more palatable. The last time Ford tried something like this, things didn’t go so well. The EcoSport was a disappointing car (since improved), but we’re pleased to report Ford seems to have learnt its lesson, because the Ka+ is surprisingly likeable.
“Big for the price of small” is the tag line, and it’s certainly the former (context, remember) – shorter but taller than the outgoing Fiesta and plenty spacious enough inside, an adult could quite happily sit behind another, providing neither of you was freakishly tall.
Kit is plentiful, and interior quality is mostly on par with other cars in this class, ultimately fine if a bit scratchy low down. Drives well, too. Feels quite Fordy, even at low speeds. Admittedly we didn’t get the opportunity to push it hard, but its owners won’t anyway. Standout things are the ride, which is very smooth around town, and general refinement – two things Ford’s worked hard on. Gearbox and steering are good too.
Downsides? The old-school 1.2-litre, n/a engine is smooth and quiet enough at low revs, but ultimately gutless. Fine for town stuff but out of its depth at higher speeds. The vast majority of buyers are going for the more powerful of the two available tunes (and the higher of the two trim levels), Ford tells us.
The looks, to this writer’s eyes, aren’t quite right – but the biggest bugbear is its name. Ka should be reserved for something quirky, something stylish, not the value proposition. It should be Ford’s Mini, not Ford’s Viva.
1196cc 4cyl petrol, FWD, 84 bhp, 83 lb ft
56,5 mpg, 114g/km CO2
0-62 mph in 13,3 secs, 105 mph
Much better than we feared it would be. Good to drive, less so to look at.