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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Ford spent a lot of time and effort retuning the 1.2-litre, eight-valve engine in the Ford Ka to deliver a blend and style of performance it was happy with.

Not because the engine does a bad job in the Fiat 500, merely a different one from that required by the Blue Oval. The result is indeed a quantifiably altered experience, but whether it’s any more appealing than what you get in the Fiat is another matter, even though the Ka feels perkier and plain faster than the Fiat and has a sweeter, slicker gearchange. 

The Ka’s main problem is that it generates a surprising amount of noise inside the cabin with anything more than a few hundred revs dialled into the motor. That typically well oiled, almost over-refined feel that’s so abundant in most other Fords simply isn’t there in the new Ka, either.

That said, it is a decently lively performer in the first four gears, even though fifth (top) feels a touch long for the 1.2-litre engine to be able to cope with. Zero to 60mph takes a competitive 13.6sec and in fourth gear it’ll go from 50-70mph in under 13.0sec, a good time for a city car. 

The bottom line is that the slightly more expensive and phased out TDCi version was far quieter and better performer in the real world, and that’s the version you should go for. If you can afford it and you will drive enough miles to offset the higher purchase costs with its greater economy. 

The familiar, Fiat-sourced 74bhp 1.3-litre diesel is the same one you can buy in a Fiat Panda, 500 – or Vauxhall Corsa. Meaning that GM and Ford are sharing the same engine. As in other applications, this diesel unit needs to be used quite hard. It has to be revved, so performance is still accompanied by some noise. It really only performs when pulling 2500pm or better, but it also runs out of puff at 4500rpm.

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