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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 17 January 2021

Review: We test drive Ford's new Ka+

Ford is hoping to make a big splash with its little car.

Image: Ford UK

DESPITE ITS NAME, Ford’s new Ka+ is not a replacement for the old Ka. In fact, this entry-level hatch is more closely related to its bigger sibling the Fiesta.

Even though the Ka+ is the smallest car in the Ford family, it certainly doesn’t lack in space. There is plenty of leg and head room up front and – to my surprise – in the back too. It has a whole load of useful storage areas including a decent-sized glove box, pockets in the back of the seats, four cup holders and a dock for storing, mounting and charging phones.

The boot is a really good size for a city car and can hold 270 litres with the seats up or 849 litres with the 60/40 rear seats folded. (As a comparison, the Renault Twingo can hold 219-980 litres and the Skoda Citigo can hold 251-951 litres.) However, there is no external mechanism to open the boot and it can only be opened by pressing a button on the central console or the key fob. I found this a little impractical.

Source: Ford UK

Styling wise, the exterior is a tad bland and unlike many of its competitors there are very few personalisation options. That’s not to say it is a bad-looking car. It’s not (and looks are subjective).

Inside things do get better. The dash and centre console are similar to that of the Fiesta and feel well built – however, there is a lot of hard scratchy plastic around making the cabin a little ‘budget’. But at least it’s durable and easy to keep clean, which is great if you have child passengers.

Source: Ford UK

The test car was powered by an 85hp 1.2-litre Ti-VTC petrol engine (which is derived from the same family as the 1.25-litre unit in the Fiesta). A five-speed manual is the only transmission on offer.

Source: Ford UK

Once behind the wheel, the ride is composed. The Ka+ has decent road manners and absorbs bumps with little fuss. The steering is good. It is accurate and unlike some small cars it feels well weighted, if lacking in a bit of feedback. The five-speed transmission is slick and moves through the gears smoothly and overall the Ka+ feels agile and easy to manoeuvre.

This is despite the fact that when cornering, it didn’t feel very surefooted and there is a bit of body roll.

Source: Ford UK

The engine is quiet and smooth but it lacks any real urgency. I found myself dropping down a few gears to get the speed up on inclines and on the motorway – however, around the streets of London it felt more than adequate. The ride is quite refined and the cabin well insulated from engine, wind and tyre noise.

The Ka+ is available in two trim levels, Studio and Zetec. The entry-level Studio model is powered by the 70hp 1.2-litre petrol engine and is priced from €13,050.

For the Zetec model, powered by the 85hp 1.2-litre petrol engine and priced from €14,650, you get 15-inch alloys, manual air-con, Ford DAB radio with 4.2-inch screen, SYNC and Emergency Assistance, a leather steering wheel and cruise control.

There’s also MyKey, which allows owners to program keys with restricted vehicle modes including limiting vehicle top speeds and decreasing audio volume – handy if you have novice drivers using the car.

Source: Ford UK

Both engines have CO2 emissions of 114g/km placing them in tax Band A4 (€200). The more powerful 85hp engine would be my pick of the two especially if you do a lot of motorway driving.

Source: Ford UK

Overall, I think the unimaginative styling of the Ka+ can be overlooked as the ride quality, handling and comfort are very good for a car this size, so too is the space on offer, especially for rear passengers.

Is this the right car for you?

If you are looking for a practical and spacious city car that drives better than it looks then the Ford Ka+ should be on your consideration list.

However, if you want something with a little more style and fun factor then check out the Skoda Citigo, which costs from €11,375 for the entry-level five-door model or €13,656 for the more comparable Ambition model powered by a 75hp 1.0-litre engine.

Looking for something cheaper? The Dacia Sandero is priced from €10,190 for the 75hp 1.2-litre Alternative model – but it doesn’t drive as well as the Ka+ and doesn’t feel as well built.

READ: Car review – The DS 3 >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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