The KA has grown-up, got serious and now has two extra doors. We’ve driven it to see how good this £8995 city car is
What do we have here?
The Ka was originally launched in 1996 as a three-door supermini. With catwalk looks, it stood out from the crowd and proved popular among buyers.
A second-generation followed in 2009, essentially based on the Fiat 500 and was somewhat of a fall from grace despite its high-profile appearance in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
This third-generation breaks away from what has gone before by adding two additional doors, offering more space and losing its cutesy appearance. It’s also got a revised name, the KA+.
It’s based on Ford’s global small-car platform and made of high-strength steel. It’s slightly shorter than its Fiesta supermini sibling at 3929mm but stands 29mm taller.
The KA+ comes with a 1.2-litre Duratec petrol engine, offered with two power outputs, 69bhp and 84bhp, both of which get a five-speed manual gearbox.
Available in four trim levels, starting with the entry-level Studio which gets electric windows and door mirrors, Bluetooth, hill start assist, trip computer, immobiliser and an alarm.
Zetec trim adds 15in alloy wheels, air-conditioning, SYNC voice-activation, leather steering wheel, cruise control, armrest, rear parking sensors and privacy glass. Two colour editions will arrive in the spring.
We’re testing the more powerful version in Zetec trim. Our test car comes in optional Ruby Red paint (£745), gets privacy glass (£225), electronic automatic temperature control (£275), heated front seats (£150) and city pack (£300) which includes rear parking sensors, power fold door mirrors and electric rear windows.
How does it drive?
What bowls you over most is how supple the KA+’s ride is. It smothers road imperfections and even the largest of pot holes. There’s some vertical movement over high speed humps but it’s well damped meaning the body quickly settles down.
Our test route was through a busy East London but even so the KA+ seemed to control its body movement well with limited signs of body roll. It also has plenty of grip on offer.
Its steering is well-weighted with good feel, although there’s a slight deadening around the straight ahead on the motorway. It’s speed sensitive, meaning the steering is lighter when parking and manoeuvring yet firms up at higher speeds.
The 1.2-litre engine with its 84bhp hits 0-62mph in 13.3 seconds, although around town it feels swifter than that with a good pick-up of speed, allowing you to easily nip between traffic. It also has an addictive engine note.
It gets a five-speed manual gearbox that’s easy to use for regular gear changes, while the clutch offers some resistance, giving the impression of solidity.
At motorways speeds, there’s some wind noise, however, suspension noise is noticeable much of the time.
What's it like inside?
It’s rather mature and grown-up. You could easily be in a much larger Ford like a Focus. It feels well-made, roomy and gets many controls from larger Ford’s such as the Mondeo.
The dash is a little cluttered with buttons, in fact feeling like a simplified Fiesta, and like the current Fiesta, it lacks a touchscreen infotainment system, instead opting for a cheaper, smaller display.
Behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel is a letterbox look instrument binnacle which is small but simple and clear.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive, providing plenty of adjustment to find a comfortable seating position. The steering wheel however only adjust for tilt and not reach. The KA+ has plenty of head room and storage space, while the Zetec provides a small driver’s seat armrest.
Visibility out is good, although the wing mirrors are noticeably narrow and reduce your rear-view vision splay.
In the back, there’s an impressive amount of head, leg and knee room, while the boot is well-sized for a supermini let alone a city car.
Ford claims the KA+ will return 56.5mpg on a combined cycle. During our 40 minute test route in city traffic (urban) we managed 38mpg, which is impressively close to the claimed urban economy of 42.8mpg.
CO2 emissions of 114g/km mean it’ll cost £30 for a year’s road tax while the KA+ falls into the 19% BIK company car tax banding.
It’s likely the KA+ will fall into a low insurance group, but final groupings are yet to be confirmed.
Service packs are available from your local dealer and costs vary depending on your location.
The new KA+ comes with a three-year 60,000-mile warranty.
The KA+ is an excellent city car that has a comfortable ride, is roomy and feels grown-up. It also has a low asking price, even in the higher spec guise.
It may not have the cache of Fiat 500 or a VW Up! due to its mundane looks but it’s better than both in almost every area.