The Ford Ka is no more. Meet the Ford Ka+, a slightly bigger version of the old city car that's designed to fill the gap left by the Fiesta's move a little upmarket.
We tested one on the streets of London to see how it handled life in the UK...
What is it?
The Ka+ is a new model for the Ford range. It's bigger than the Ka was and smaller than the Fiesta will be, and Ford says it's the most spacious car in its segment.
The emphasis here is on simplicity and affordability. That's why there are only two trim levels – Studio and Zetec, of which the latter is expected to make up 95 per cent of sales – and one engine on offer.
What's under the bonnet?
Our only major complaint with the Ka+ is the engine choice. The only unit available is a 1.2-litre petrol, which is available in both 69 and 84bhp guises. Neither is particularly exciting to drive, nor are they particularly fast, hamstrung by gearing made with city driving in mind.
It's geared towards city driving so cruising on the motorway will see you up around 3,000 revs, which isn't particularly relaxing. We'd go with the more powerful version as it makes non-city driving a bit more bearable.
What's the spec like?
With Ford adamant that this model is more focused on being a budget city car than a high-spec hatchback, you'd expect it to feel pretty spartan inside. Quite the opposite.
We tried the slightly more premium Zetec trim and were impressed with the look and feel of the interior. The materials used aren't exactly premium, but there are no scratchy plastics and the admittedly rather unexciting dashboard is at least clear and easy to use.
Key rivals include the Peugeot 108, Hyundai i10 and Kia Rio. The Ka+ feels a lot more grown up and sophisticated than all of those, if a little on the dull side.
All three have more personality to their design, but the Ford definitely offers a more focused package in a segment that tends to put quirkiness and bold personality statements above all else.
What's it like to drive?
We tested it on the mean streets of London, vying for limited road space with countless taxis, truckers and kamikaze cyclists. Despite the chaos carrying on around us, the Ka+ remained a calming place to be.
The pedals are nicely weighted so that precise inputs are easy without requiring too much effort. Visibility is excellent and, with such a small footprint, squeezing in and out of gaps in traffic is no trouble at all. Here, the short gear ratios make sense.
AOL Cars Verdict
In an odd way, the Ka+'s rather bland styling is a breath of fresh air in this typically rather extrovert segment.
The undoubted let-down is the engine, but Ford assures us that fitting the much-loved 1.0-litre EcoBoost would drive the base price up too much – it doesn't want to steal sales from its all-new Fiesta, after all.
Think of it as a more grown up alternative to the likes of the Hyundai i10 and Vauxhall Viva and the Ka+ is a stellar option. It's great to drive around town, feels quality inside and offers a lot of space.