"Out on the road, the Ka forces you to remind yourself that it's a city car."
To find out, we've been using our current long term test car to garner opinion. Our 1.3-litre TDCi Zetec model has had a busy life since joining us too, its duties ranging from trips to the corner shop to a long distance jaunt up and down the country to Newcastle. So far, all who've driven it seem to be impressed. You might mistake this Ka as a shrunken version of the Fiesta supermini from the outside but inside, it's very much its own car - and much more avant garde, with what Ford like to call a 'kinetic' design philosophy. One thing that the old Ka wasn't was roomy and practical. The second generation car isn't huge of course (there's only so much you can do with a bodyshell this small and you still only get three doors) but it is a huge improvement. Busy mums who've tried our car report an airy feel inside with an abundance of headroom for front seat occupants and space for a couple of six footer teenagers to occupy the rear without doing themselves a mischief.
My own wife Katie particularly likes the array of storage options around the cabin which she reckons have been particularly well thought out, with useful door pockets, numerous small cubbies and an unpromising glovebox flap that opens to reveal a prodigious area behind. The boot too is of a useful size for a citycar but, as we've found, 224 litres won't go that far after a major supermarket splurge. If the kids aren't with you, at least you can fold the rear seats and 747 litres is opened up. This isn't an ideal citycar for our particular family as you can only order it with three doors. Still, that's how it is and in any case, merit points were regained when a cursory inspection was made of the extras included on the Zetec-trimmed TDCi model available for test (electric windows, power steering, alloy wheels and air conditioning). Even in standard form, this sporty Ka looks a comprehensive package for buyers seeking an economical citycar with a sporty edge and though in this form, it isn't cheap (at around £10,500), if we'd gone for the petrol version that most customers choose, we would have paid from around £8,000. Safety is course is a key consideration in a car like this. How does the Ford fare? Well, at the heart of the vehicle is a tough bodyshell, which has been developed to provide a strong, stable crash structure to protect passengers in case of an accident. This has been combined with an Intelligent Protection System (IPS), which integrates airbags, restraint systems and seating technologies to provide what Ford claims is a highly effective occupant safety system. Out on the road, the Ka forces you to remind yourself that it's a city car, feeling altogether more grown-up than most of the alternatives in this sector. The chassis and suspension may be borrowed from Fiat but Ford undertook a programme of revisions designed to instil the sharp handling that the Blue Oval has come to stand for. Most significant amongst the changes is the introduction of a rear anti-roll bar that braces the chassis and improves stability when cornering. The Ka certainly tackles twisty roads with genuine composure and there's enough grip to confirm that it could handle a far more powerful engine. Our testers have reported that by citycar standards, ride quality is first rate and so is refinement, although a few have pointed out that wind noise is noticeable at higher speeds. A citycar like this has to be both cheap to run and kind to the environment and of course, Ford loudly proclaims this Ka to be both. The 1.2-litre 69PS Duratec petrol unit has cut fuel consumption by 21 per cent compared to the previous 1.3-litre Ka. With this in mind, it's hard to see too many Ka customers being able to cover mileages great enough to make the savings that would justify the premium being asked for our 1.3-litre 75 PS Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel. Our TDCi's combined fuel consumption figure of 67.2mpg is tempting. Both petrol and diesel models are available with sub-120g/km CO2 emissions. This MK2 Ka has big shoes to fill. Nearly one and a half million examples of the first generation version were sold, half a million of those in the UK, where the car has been the citycar segment leader since the turn of the century. Will this version repeat that success? There's no obvious reason why not except for the much tougher opposition it must face these days. Still, for family buyers looking for that second car runabout who don't mind the three-door-only bodystyle, a Ka has to be on their shopping list.
Facts at a Glance
Facts At A Glance CAR: Ford Ka 1.3 TDCi PRICE: £10,595 - on the road INSURANCE GROUP: 2 CO2 EMISSIONS: 112g/km PERFORMANCE: [1.3 TDCi Duratorq] 0-60mph 13.1s / Max Speed 100mph FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.3 TDCi Duratorq] (combined) 67.3mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front & side airbags WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/heightmm 3620/1658/1505mm