A family outing tests our small Ford’s passenger-carrying ability to the limit

Since taking ownership of the Ford Ka+, I’ve been looking forward to finding out how capable it would be with a full complement of passengers.

So when a trip to Manchester cropped up a couple of weeks ago, I had the ideal chance to do just that, with my mum and my 6ft-plus uncle becoming unwitting test subjects for the 250-mile round trip.

The Ka+ is shorter overall than the Fiesta, which itself isn’t the last word in rear passenger comfort. However, despite the two cars being similar underneath, Ford says it has created more rear room in the Ka+ by making the seats more upright than the Fiesta’s and sacrificing some boot space. Another advantage the Ka+ has is its tall roofline, which aids head room and makes life easier when getting in and out of the back.

Anyway, it all seems to work. During the trip up the M40 and M6, both passengers commented positively on the knee, leg and shoulder room afforded to them. My mother was most comfortable, but my uncle managed 90 miles before cramp set in and he chose to switch to the vacant front passenger seat during a pit stop at Keele services.

After that, I was keen to try three across the rear bench. This time the journey was of only a few miles, but again the Ford didn’t disappoint, with each passenger having enough head and leg room, even the middle occupant, who can often get a raw deal in five-seat cars. The only downside was a lack of shoulder room – forgiveable when you consider the Ka+’s overall dimensions.

Despite the compromised boot space, there’s still a 270-litre load bay, which is sufficient to swallow a small weekly shop. Indeed, it has only 15 litres less than an MG 3 and 50 litres less than a Dacia Sandero, both larger cars, and is 64 litres bigger than the boot of a Vauxhall Viva.

Read our first report below

Our new Ford Ka+ is a radically different prospect from the two generations of Ka that preceded it. That much is obvious simply by looking at its five-door bodystyle.

Like the original three-door Ka, which changed Europe’s city car landscape with its cheeky demeanour and nimble handling, this new one is based on Fiesta underpinnings, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. This new car is a good 260mm longer and also wider and taller than the Ka Mk1.

Ford’s intention with the Ka+ is for it to major on practicality and affordability, not only to buy but also to run and insure. Although it is shorter than the Fiesta in length, there’s enough interior room to carry two rear passengers in decent comfort, or three at a push.

The Ka+ is built in India but has been heavily tweaked to suit European tastes. We’re keen to use our six-month spell in the car to assess how well those tweaks have worked, because the same strategy was used with the Ecosport crossover, and that fell disappointingly short of Ford’s usual high standards when it first arrived.

Anyone buying a Ka+ won’t have to make many decisions. There’s one engine available in two states of tune, and the list of cost options is short. Ford’s decision to offer only a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder Duratec petrol engine has been made to keep costs low. There are no Ecoboost or diesel options.

You can buy the Ka+ in entry-level form for a touch over £9200, which is almost as expensive as the old range-topping SportKa used to be. For that money, it is sparsely equipped but does include Bluetooth and electric front windows. It is also available only with the 69bhp version of the 1.2-litre engine.

We have opted for a mid-range Zetec, which is available with the pokier and more capable 84bhp engine. Zetec trim also comes with more standard equipment, such as DAB, cruise control, alloy wheels and air conditioning, all making the Ka+ that bit more enticing.

We’ve added a handful of options. The most expensive of these is the silver paint, and we also went for Ford’s City Pack, which includes parking sensors. We’re still believers in spare wheels, so we’ve ticked the box that means our car comes equipped with one. Heated front seats were perhaps an indulgence at £150, albeit one that will get regular use in the next couple of months. But despite all that, our car’s price was still just £11,590.

The original Ka engendered warm affection from many who owned or drove one. So will living up to that legacy be a tough ask for the larger, taller and slightly heavier Ka+?

Not necessarily. As part of the car’s European overhaul, Ford has fitted shorter suspension springs and stiffer, uprated dampers and has retuned the steering set-up from that of the standard Indian-market cars rolling off the production line. Stiffer cross members and front subframes and chunkier anti-roll bars complete the changes for our car.

It’s early days, of course, but we’re happy with what we’ve found so far. The Ka+’s ride is superb, absorbing ruts and potholes with ease, while the handling is crisp and sharp, suggesting that choosing a budget car needn’t mean you can’t have fun.

The 1.2-litre petrol engine does need working quite hard to get up to any sort of speed out of town, but its shortcomings can be forgiven.

Over the next six months with the Ka+, we’ll be determining whether it retains any of the original model’s charm and deciding whether it can get the better of its Vauxhall Viva, MG 3 and Dacia Sandero rivals at the affordable end of the five-door city car market.

FORD KA+ 1.2 TI-VCT 85 ZETEC

Price £10,545 Price as tested £11,590 Options Ingot Silver paint £495, City Pack (rear parking sensors, power folding heated door mirrors, electric rear windows) £300, heated front seats £150, 14in spare steel wheel £100 Economy 39.7mpg Faults None Expenses None 

Our Verdict

Ford Ka+

The Ford Ka+ may look ungainly, but underneath it’s a spacious supermini with a well-sorted chassis

Join the debate

Comments
12

31 May 2017
This seems totally devoid of any style, and it doesn't say great things about Ford in general. What's the opposite of a halo model called? If Ford are serious about selling cars like the Ecosport and Ka in Europe then they need to design and build them for and in Europe, because tastes and needs are very different. Clearly being burned by the dismal failure of the Ecosport wasn't enough of a lesson.

31 May 2017
What do you need large wheels for on this type of car? The original KA came on 13" wheels. It's not designed to be a sports car, or a piece of exquisite quality car.

It's aimed at low running costs/price market and it seems to fit the bill well really, with space and decent driving dynamics.

May not not be the most exciting to look at, the rear capsule be mistaken for the old 1 series.

It's a an alright car, and better than the 500 based one it replaces.

31 May 2017
So maybe it's the car that's become too big for its wheels? But I'm sure that this trend towards oversize wheels has a lot to do with the poor ride quality of many modern cars. Doesn't unsprung weight matter any more, or have we just become used to cars that crash and shudder every time we go over a pothole?

31 May 2017
It's not the size of the wheel that solely affects the ride it's the profile of the tyre! A bigger wheel/tyre combination can actual go over bumps better. But you are right about unsprung weight

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

31 May 2017
I don't see why a cheap car has to look so dull, no one's every gonna say it's cute like the Suzuki Ignis or smart like the new Swift or good value for money like a Kia Picanto.
All these cars are about the same money, as economical, as well built BUT just look more of an interesting ownership proposition. Ford are losing it IMHO

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

6 July 2017
There you go talking about butts again - I preferred it when you were just a know-it-all.
Hydrogen cars just went PLOP

31 May 2017
They should have renamed it really, as it's competing in a different class to the old Ka. Vauxhall for example have separate Adam and Viva models, the former is more akin to the original Ka idea (small and attempting to be cheeky) while the latter is like this Ka+ (cheap, spacious transport)

4 June 2017
Mikey C wrote:

They should have renamed it really, as it's competing in a different class to the old Ka. Vauxhall for example have separate Adam and Viva models, the former is more akin to the original Ka idea (small and attempting to be cheeky) while the latter is like this Ka+ (cheap, spacious transport)

Fiat have done it with the 500/Panda as well

31 May 2017
I'v seen a few of these around now, and I think its fine for the market it is aimed at, probably more in tune than the former, second generation Ka. I certainly prefer the look of it to the narrow, upright look of such cars as the Viva, and it sounds like Ford have done a much better job of adapting it to European tastes than with the awful Ecosport. I agree a different name would have been a good idea, though

8 June 2017
I wouldn’t take a review at face value although it does look like this Ka+ could be something that might work for a lot of very different households and especially the younger generation. All the more so, people need to get out there and actually get into the car themselves and figure out whether the car matches them and their lifestyles as well as look at their finance options so that they can secure a good deal for the car if everything works out!

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