Ride height has been raised by 23mm, giving the Ka+ Active that upright, crossover feel that’s so in demand right now, while a larger anti-roll bar works with the electronic stability control to reduce the chances of rollover while those rails are fully loaded. It sits on 185/60 tyres, slightly skinnier than the 195/55s found on the standard car, for a marginally softer ride.
Otherwise, the mechanicals are mostly unchanged. The sole petrol engine is the 81bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit also found on the rest of the Ka+ range, with 85lb ft of torque, a top speed of 105mph and hitting 0-60mph in 13.5sec. A 1.5-litre diesel also joins the line-up — a first for the Ka+ — but Ford isn’t expecting it to be a big seller. There’s still no Ecoboost variant, either, in order to keep some space between the Ka+ and the Fiesta.
The Ka+ Active has the same MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension as a regular Ka+, as well as a five-speed manual gearbox raided from the new Fiesta’s parts bin.
What's it like?
Not too dissimilar to the Ka+, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Both are smooth-riding runabouts, with the Active model managing to outdo the standard car in the way that it handles rough roads.
Body roll is magnified by the raised ride height and easily noticed, but the suspension still manages to mitigate the in-cabin jostle of most bumps and compressions.
Few entry-level superminis deliver an engaging drive, but the Ka+ Active gives a reasonable account of one, with precise and weighty steering that’s still easy to control for tight manoeuvres. In the right circumstances, it could even be considered fun.
The problem is a somewhat gutless engine. It has the power needed for the kind of city driving the Ka+ is best at, but it takes some real thrashing to get it up to speed with any urgency. Many of its rivals suffer in the same way, but that’s no consolation when you’re struggling to ascend even a mild gradient. The gearbox is at least precise and responsive for when you reach the shouty end of the rev range.
Inside, there’s now a clearer distinction between the Fiesta and Ka+, with the former having stepped things up but the latter still content to cover every surface in scratchy plastics. It’s still pleasant enough inside and the materials are suitably hard-wearing, given the target audience, but it’s impossible to miss the expansive dashboard stretching out in front of you.
The latest version of Ford’s Sync infotainment comes as standard and is a welcome improvement from the one in the outgoing Ka+. The 6.5in touchscreen has crisp, clean graphics and responds to taps very quickly. It has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which you’ll need if you want navigation, because there’s no built-in system.