Ford retired the once popular Ka model a number of years ago and replaced it with the larger, budget-orientated Ka+ in 2016.
It’s too big for the city car class like the original Ka, so in theory it sits in the same segment as Ford’s top selling Fiesta supermini. Based on an Indian market model, the Figo, the Ka+ sought to offer something to buyers at the lower end of the market to the Fiesta.
And it seemed to land quite well, Ford selling more than 61,000 of them in the first two years of production.
Ford Ka+ Active
Price: £13,245 (£13,740 as driven)
Engine: 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 105mph
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
C02:129 g/km (NEDC)
It was geared to mount a challenge to the Dacia Sanderos of the market rather than the VW Polo or even Kia Rio. I drove the Ka+ not long after launch and found it a basic, but not altogether unpleasant offering that lacked the bells, whistles and material quality of contemporary Fiestas, but did exactly what it was supposed to. The 1.2-litre engine was uninspiring but beyond that the drive stood up well.
Ford relaunched the model last year and the new car has a new interior, a new exterior, more advanced tech including a touchscreen Sync 3 infotainment system and, for the first time, a diesel option has been added to the engine range.
There’s also a new ‘Active’ trim level that seeks to bring SUV-style looks to the range – something Ford have also offered with the latest Fiesta.
I tested the Ka+ Active recently, with a new 1.2-litre Ti-VCT engine and, while I’m not sure it’s going to convince anyone it’s a bona fide off-roader, the chunky Active trim suits the little car and improves it compared with the standard bodywork.
It’s still very much at the budget end of the market – the range starts at £10,795 – but the material quality and equipment has improved significantly since the first model’s launch.
That new engine doesn’t up the horsepower compared with the outgoing, four-cylinder, 1.2-litre, but torque is improved by 10 per cent and fuel efficiency is improved four per cent thanks to the loss of a cylinder and its subsequent weight.
The odd number of cylinders means the engine sounds better to my ear and its paring with a six-speed transmission as opposed to a five-speed has improved power delivery across the range. It’s still a little anaemic though, particularly if you compare it to engines from elsewhere in Ford’s line-up sporting Ecoboost badges.
Ford have given the suspension some attention and tuned the dampers for a smoother ride and also widened the track. It still rolls a bit in the corners but it doesn’t feel wobbly. The Active trim raises suspension by 23mm, so the standard car may lose a little of that wobble.
The interior is a marked improvement on the old car and the addition of the touchscreen infotainment system modernises far more than a redesigned fascia ever could.
The plastics are still hard and unyielding, something that betrays the car’s budget roots. Another thing that does that is its three-star Euro NCAP rating – a lack of advanced safety aids like automatic braking detracting from the score.
As a budget offering the Ka+ is more appealing to look at and to sit in than the Dacia Sandero – and that’s really the only comparison to make as the Sandero and the Ka+ are the only cars offering this much space at the price range. It’s much improved on the older model, but I wouldn’t bother with any trim lower than Zetec, below which you lose the Sync 3 system.
If space isn’t concern you’ll get a better looking and better driving car if you drop down to something like a Kia Picanto or a VW Up but if you need space for passengers the Ford offers a lot of car for your money.