Potentially, there’s a lot to like here.
The KA+ may be a South American-conceived, Indian-made product but it’s been thoroughly re-developed for the European market with a package of engineering changes that have really paid off when it comes to the driving dynamics it can offer. It helps that all the tweaked suspension bits have been bolted to the ‘Global B’ platform that made the old 7th generation Fiesta such a fun steer. In fact, there’s a lot of that car in the way that this one flows through the turns with the kind of poise and agility that by and large, other city-segment rivals simply can’t match.
Under the bonnet, Ford has carried over much the same 1. 2-litre Duratec petrol engine that was used in the previous generation KA, though this time, it’s being offered in both 70 and 85PS guises, both variants available only with 5-speed manual transmission. In each case, you can expect the same unremarkable efficiency figures – 56. 5mpg on the combined cycle and 114g/km of CO2. During those times when you’re not on the motorway or thrashing the thing about though, it’s easy to forget the lack of sophistication beneath the bonnet. From what we’ve already said, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’ve found this KA+ to be eager to please in typical suburban citycar use, quiet and agile around town, easy to park and perfect for parents thanks to its spacious size. In short, it ticks a lot of boxes.
Think of a Ford KA and it’s still quite hard not to picture the almost wilful aesthetic contrariness of the bug-shaped first generation version. The Blue Oval brand’s current ‘One Ford’ global policy makes it more difficult for the company to develop divisively-styled products, given the varying different tastes and preferences in the many markets they have to satisfy. It’s just as well then, that, perhaps rather refreshingly, this car isn’t setting out to be any sort of fashion-conscious hipster. The kind of person likely to buy a KA+ would, we think, see a model like that as being rather silly.
No, if you’re target market for this car, here’s what you’re going to appreciate: the surprising size of the thing. Think of some of the city runabouts this Ford undercuts on price – a Volkswagen up! for example. At nearly 4-metres long, this KA+ is a full 329mm lengthier than one of those.
Behind the wheel, the supportive seat positions you higher and more uprightly than you would be in a Fiesta, but that’s not a problem for comfort and it also ensures for excellent all-round vision. The door pockets have been compartmentalised to take small bottles, there’s a reasonably-sized glovebox and you get a little shelf in front of the gearlever for your smartphone, conveniently positioned just above the 12v, USB and aux-in connectivity ports.
Talking of connectivity, we ought to cover that. No new modern Ford model is complete without some element of the company’s SYNC media technology and here, the most basic version of that set-up is standard, provided you avoid entry-level trim. As usual, the system’s there to let you play music, make or receive calls and use the ‘SYNC AppLink’ feature that allows you to control apps on your smartphone - all with simple voice commands.
Let’s move to the area of this car that might really sell it to you – the back seat. We’ve certainly been in plenty of Fiesta-sized superminis from the next class up that feel more cramped than this KA+ model’s cabin. The tall, glassy roofline certainly helps and there’s enough legroom for two six-foot adults to sit behind two front-seated friends of similar size.
Finally, let’s check out the boot. An immediate irritation is the lack of any sort of tailgate handle – you’ll need to use either the button, the ignition key or the one provided on the dash to release the rear hatch. Once it’s raised though, all should be forgiven for the 270-litre space revealed is the largest in the citycar class.
Ford was too long without a meaningful contender in the Citycar segment but this KA+ has thoroughly corrected that oversight. This model also offers evidence that the Blue Oval brand is starting to get the hang of the whole ‘global car’ thing. Having a product for every market is fine, provided the design in question can be tuned for the needs and preferences of different continents – in the way this KA+ has been.
Add in the low asking prices, the rock bottom insurance ratings and the impressive SYNC media connectivity system and you’ve a very strong class contender indeed. In short, the KA, it seems, has come of age.