STYLE OR SUBSTANCE?
My first opportunity to sample the diesel Ka came on a typically grim wet winter day, somewhat tempering my enthusiasm for a stylish looking little hatchback that will surely be much more fun in the sunshine and warmth of summer. The seating position seemed curiously elevated, the wipers swept an irritatingly small area, the heater fan was noisy, and road noise was a constant reminder that, for all its outward style, this is Ford’s cheapest car, and half the price of a mid-level Mondeo. Inside the cabin though, there’s obviously been a strong effort to avoid the drab and cheaplooking conservative decor of many oriental offerings. The diesel comes only in well-equipped Zetec trim and is upgraded to 195/50/15 tyres (175/65/14s are standard on lesser Ka’s) that do ride comfort and road noise levels no favours. At £9,981, it’s some £2,154 costlier than a basic 1.2 petrol Studio, £685 being the cost of upgrading to diesel power. It’s easy to spend another £1,000 on the multiplicity of colour, trim, wheel, and safety options, even on the Zetec, but such window-dressing makes for a car that’s certainly no longer cheap.
Out on the road, the 74bhp/107lb ft engine pulls much better than the weedy, but willing, 69bhp 1.2 petrol. But it struggles somewhat in a 1,055kg car that weighs an amazing 115kg (two nine stone teenagers!) more than the 1.2 petrol Zetec. The diesel’s 42 per cent greater torque is thus more than welcome, but I lusted after the 140lb ft torque of the same 75bhp 1.3 Multijet, as tuned for use in the Fiat Grande Punto. The computer recorded a somewhat disappointing 53mpg economy over my test route, compared with the EC Combined figure of 67.3mpg.
Ford’s suspension tuning has given the Ka a more lively and responsive feel than the closely related Fiat 500. With the limited performance, your daughter should be safe behind the wheel, even with no ESP and only a basic airbag package. But with two doors, limited rear space, and a 224 litre boot, this new Ka is really a two plus two, as it has always been. Ford only expects four per cent of sales to be diesels and dealer demonstrators may thus be hard to find.
If you’re looking for more space than the little Ka offers, and you’re not obsessed with style, then you could save yourself £750 by opting for the Fiat Panda, which the Ka, and indeed the Fiat 500, shares its platform with.
- Engine: 1248cc, 4-cylinder turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5 speed manual
- Max Power: 74bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 107lb ft at 1,500-3,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: tba
- Combined Consumption: 67.3mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 112g/km (B)
- 0-62mph: 13.1secs
- Max speed: 100mph
- Insurance Group: 2