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The new Ford Ka+

By raccars Published

Ford KA

Ford is replacing its Ka city car with something all new, named the Ka+.

While the Ka+ is, like the Ka, a small car, Ford is aiming at a slightly different market. In fact the Ka+ is nearly as big as the Fiesta supermini, to which it is expected to offer a more affordable alternative. In effect it's not a direct replacement for the earlier car and is functioning as an all-new model.

Ford Ka+ undercuts the Fiesta

With prices starting at £8,995, the five door Ka+ is rather cheaper than the UK's best-selling supermini. It comes in the Style and Zetec trim levels only and with one engine: a four cylinder 1.2 litre petrol unit available in 69bhp and 84bhp formats. Ford is already taking orders for the new model, with the first deliveries projected for October this year. Initially only the higher powered Ka+ will be on the market, with the 69bhp model to be launched later.

Prices rise to £10,295 for the Zetec model with the higher powered engine, but Ford nonetheless believes that this will be the best selling version. However even the entry level model comes with air con, six airbags, a smartphone dock, hill start assist, a speed limiter and Ford's Sync in car audio and phone system with voice activation. The options list includes alloy wheels, climate control, heated front seats, a leather steering wheel including cruise control, DAB radio, heated and folding mirrors and rear parking sensors.

A European supermini

The Ka+ is being built in India, where it will also be sold but using the name 'Figo'. European models will have different specifications as Ford is keen to ensure quality meets European standards after criticism of the Indian-built Ecosport a few years back. Ford technicians at the company's Belgian proving ground in Lommel have carefully tuned the Ka+'s suspension to make it more Euro-centric, with alterations to the springs and dampers, steering, tyres, rear torsion beam and the front anti-roll bar. The engine mounts and front subframe have also been re-engineered. The result is a lower riding car which provides the sort of handling and ride comfort expected by European customers.

What's it up against?

The Ka+ marks a departure for Ford, which is entering budget car territory for the first time after years of resistance. The new car will be going up against the likes of the Dacia Sandero and the Kia Rio, which both offer similar accommodation at a similar price point. In fact the Ka+ is surprisingly comfortable even for a six footer sitting behind another six footer in the driving seat. The Ka+ is the result of a complete rethink by Ford about its small car line-up and a serious attempt to improve its profitability in the sector.

Ostensibly there are a number of other similarly priced competitors for the Ka+ already on sale, such as the Suzuki Celerio, Vauxhall Viva, MG3, Citroen C1 and the Peugeot 108, but none of these are as spacious inside and Ford has been careful to avoid associations with them for this reason. Using the same global platform for small cars which underpins the Fiesta, the Ka+ is slightly higher riding and only a tiny bit shorter than the rather posher supermini.

It's hard to believe that the original Ka was released two decades ago. It was sparky, well thought out little machine with great handling and quirky looks. Its successor used a Fiat chassis and never quite managed to replicate the first generation Ka's lively driving dynamics. The new Ka+ is 100 per cent Ford and is more practical than the car it replaces, albeit less chic than the smart Fiesta - but that's the point. Ford is now covering all bases and all budgets in the all-important supermini sector.

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