Darren Palmer, Ford’s boss of B-car projects, believes the higher-output, £10,295 Zetec will be the most popular model but points out that even the entry-level car is well equipped.
Standard equipment includes six airbags, air conditioning, Ford’s Sync voice-activated phone and audio system, a smartphone docking station, a speed limiter and hill start assist.
Buyers who choose the 84bhp engine can get options including climate control, a leather-covered steering wheel with cruise control, alloy wheels, heated front seats, a DAB radio, rear parking sensors and heated/folding mirrors.
Palmer is at pains to point out that the Ka+ suspension has been fine-tuned by Ford of Europe’s experts at the Lommel proving ground in Belgium.
The result is a unique-to-Europe chassis spec with special specifications for the steering, springs and dampers, front anti-roll bar, rear torsion beam and tyres, plus a re-engineered front subframe and engine mounts.
The European Ka+ rides a little lower than the Indian and South American versions, and its ride and handling are much more in keeping with European tastes.
“I kept telling them to make it as good as the Fiesta,” said Palmer. “I reckon they’ve succeeded.”
Ford has in the past resisted associations with the budget end of the market, but this time it has named the Kia Rio and Dacia Sandero as competitors for the Ka+, mainly because they offer the same recipe of impressive accommodation for the money.
Our own tests at the Ka+’s launch in Cologne last week proved that a six-footer can fit into the car’s surprisingly generous rear cabin, behind another in the driving seat.
While citing the Kia and Dacia as competitors, Ford avoided mentioning others in the same price bracket, such as the Vauxhall Viva, Suzuki Celerio, MG 3, Peugeot 108, Citroën C1 and basic versions of the Volkswagen Group’s Up-based city car trio, possibly because they don’t have as much interior space as the Ka+.
Its £8995 starting price makes the Ka+ around £4500 cheaper than the Fiesta, and also significantly cheaper than the £11,050 Fiat 500 and the £10,945 Kia Rio. It's slightly more expensive than the Vauxhall Viva, though, which cost from £8595.
Ford claims class-leading front head room and rear leg room, aided by the fact that the Ka+ is 42mm higher than the Fiesta, sits on the same 2489mm wheelbase (because it uses Ford’s global small car platform) and, at 3929mm overall, is only 20mm shorter. The Ka+ offers 270 litres of storage space in its boot - enough for two suitcases, and only 20 litres less than is offered by the Fiesta - while split-folding seats increase that space even more.