Review: Ford Ka+

I remember the launch of the first generation Ford Ka in 1996, which was also my first time in Sardinia, writes Brian Byrne, where the company launched the car in tandem with a revision of its first Mondeo. It was wildly cute in a time when small cars were pretty basic. It turned out to be quite a success through its 12-year lifetime, that itself a very long life cycle in car terms. Ford made money on it because the underpinnings were from the long-popular Fiesta, and in motorsport terms it became a successful and inexpensive rally car in these islands, with its own championship.

In 2008, to save costs, a new generation Ka was built by Fiat for Ford, on the Fiat 500 platform and assembly line, but with body and a number of suspension changes specific to Ford. This didn't have quite the same popularity, nor the excellent handling of the predecessor. Also, the lack of rear doors limited its appeal to the young urban family market whose members may have been happy enough with the original as singles. In Ireland, the city car segment has never been as big as on the continent.

Now we have a new Ka+, the + signifying that it is no longer in the city car segment as far as Ford is concerned, but a budget supermini, aimed at answering the competition from the likes of Dacia at one end, but also because the new generation Fiesta on the way will be aimed rather more upmarket than the current one.

I remember seeing it as a concept several years ago, based on a model developed in Brazil by Ford, so what we have just recently got in Europe has been around in South America and also more recently in India for a few years. For Europe, it is a tad longer and has been 'comforted up' for our perceived needs.

This Ka+ makes no attempt at being cute in style terms. This is Ford back to producing a no-nonsense, practical car aimed at getting the busy singles and new young families into a blue oval car from the beginning. Expect it to become a popular model with the driving schools too.

The non-sexy shape has its practical aspect, in that the Ka+ is easy to get in and out of, and has decent headroom front and back. And a boot par for the supermini segment.

Given where it was designed for, where there are more rough roads than we have, we can take it that the Ka+ is tough, and will stand up to anything we can subject it to in Ireland and across Europe generally. It feels it too, and as this is going to be the entry Ford for some years to come, it will also eventually be knocking around in used car lots from and is likely to be a popular motor there for those with more challenged financials.

On the road it is mannerly, unexciting with an almost 14s amble to 100km/h, quiet in the 85hp 1.2 petrol engine version of my review car, and it has all the familiar and easily used controls that we associate with every Ford. It handles appropriately for its market space, and would never tempt an owner to try and push it beyond that. Fuel consumption is rated at 4.8L/100km, CO2 110g/km.

The Ka+ under review was the Zetec grade, next up from the entry Studio. It came also with a number of option packs and fittings which made it more comfortable to live with, albeit at a cost.

The Zetec provides 15” alloy wheels, aircon, Ford's SYNC connectivity, a leather covered steering wheel, cruise control and the MyKey programmable keys system (which among other things can limit what your young driver children can do).

The Driver Assistance Pack added rear parking sensors, heated power fold mirrors and rear electrically-operated windows, for €340. Heated Front Seats and an armrest added another €300, rear privacy glass €150, and a spare wheel another €100 — for which last I would vigorously haggle with the salesman to make it a no-cost extra.

Ka+ prices start at €13,050, my review Zetec from €14,650, and with all those extras it was in my driveway at €15,540.

If I was the retiring type, it could conceivably have a permanent place in that driveway. But I'm not there yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Review: BMW 3 Series Grand Turismo

With the trend towards providing coupe variants of mainstream saloon cars now firmly established across the main premium brands, BMW has for...