As with the engine and gearbox, only more so, Ford’s engineers really did pull out all the stops to try to refine and improve upon what they were given with the Ford Ka. Which is why, very early on in the project, they specified a new anti-roll bar at the back, which improved the overall stiffness of the chassis by around 30 percent.
As a result, the Ka feels much sharper and tauter on the road than the 500. Its steering feels almost as good as a Fiesta’s in the way it telegraphs what’s going on at the front tyres. The way the body is controlled, even at low speeds, also represents a marked improvement over the baby Fiat, as does the basic bite of the front end when you turn into a corner, especially if the surface on that corner happens to be wet.
But there is a trade-off, and that’s ride comfort, which has suffered as a result of Ford’s desire to make the Ka feel crisp. On smooth surfaces the worst thing you’ll notice is a surprising amount of noise, most of which comes from beneath the bonnet. But on rougher roads and on less than perfectly surfaced motorways (those throughout most of the UK, in other words) the Ka’s ride is at best lively, at worst not very good at all.
Whether this is in part down to the bigger, optional 16in alloy wheels is hard to tell, because early pre-production examples we tried, admittedly on the smoother test track roads in Belgium, rode rather better than the final production versions.
Either way, if you are expecting Fiesta-style levels of refinement and composure from the Ka, think again. Like us, you may be somewhat disappointed; try before you buy.