It would be wrong, as the motoring press’s first drives of the new Ford Ka+ appear online, to allow a car that played a key role in the European history of its maker and brought a new generation of buyers into Ford showrooms, to just slip away. The Ka is dead. The city car that did more for that emergent vehicle class in the 1990s than any other, save, perhaps, the original Renault Twingo, has been discontinued. And while its replacement, the Ka+, may be a great many other things and, as you may have already read, a commendable car in its own way, it is anything but a direct replacement.
Production of the second-generation Ka, in Poland, on the line it shared with its Fiat 500 sister car, actually stopped back in April. I dare say plenty of people may well have forgotten that it ever existed even before then, such is the change that the city car segment has seen in the past few years. We now have the Volkswagen Up, the Toyota Aygo and various other-badged siblings of both clamouring for attention, as well as the new Renault Twingo and Smart Forfour, and plenty of alternatives from Korean and Japanese brands.
How many of them would be here today, I wonder, if the original Ka hadn’t become the poster-boy for Ford’s bold ‘New Edge’ design language 20 years ago? If it hadn’t shown that cars at the very bottom of the market could be chic and desirable and also really sell, to the tune of almost half a million examples? Half? Fewer than half, even?