Plus sides to the Ka

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Robin Roberts

BA­BIES have a habit of grow­ing up, just like the new Ford Ka+. From its ori­gins as a com­pact city car in 1996 we have seen it de­velop in 2008 into a con­vert­ible and sport­ing model and now the Ka+ has been launched with an ex­tra 7.5 inches wheel­base and more room in­side.

It is a sim­ple Stu­dio and Zetec trimmed three-car range priced from un­der £9,000 to al­most £10,300, pow­ered by 70 or 85ps ver­sions of the fa­mil­iar 1.2-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine with a five-speed man­ual gear­box but no au­to­matic op­tion.

The ad­di­tional rear room has sig­nif­i­cantly ex­tended the ap­peal of this school-shut­tle, with good ac­cess, leg and head­room, a mod­est boot if three are seated but much more use­ful ca­pac­ity if the back seats are folded, al­though they don’t go flush with the boot-floor.

The tail­gate opens high to re­veal a deep, wide but not long boot and our car came with the £100 op­tional steel spare wheel, which should be stan­dard as the bet­ter so­lu­tion to a se­ri­ous punc­ture than a can of squirty sealant foam.

With the grad­ual in­crease in bootspace from the 60:40 split seats you can put a folded pushchair in one side and still take two back seat pas­sen­gers, so it’s a very fam­ily friendly in­te­rior. In fact I think some teenagers would also be happy to see the grand­par­ents at holiday-time if you took the Ka+ and there is rea­son­able amount of od­dments space.

Cloth seats are warm and com­fort­ably shaped with good ad­just­ment range on the front pair.

When used with a few aboard the lit­tle en­gine can labour, par­tic­u­larly in hilly coun­try, but it pushes the miles away on main roads and mo­tor­ways and we re­turned 42mpg with­out any prob­lems or de­lib­er­ately light-foot driv­ing.

Hav­ing cruise con­trol and us­ing it on main roads makes a dif­fer­ence and the Ford sys­tem is very easy and ef­fec­tive.

When it comes to driv­ing in town the Ka+ re­ally comes into its own with light con­trols, a good turn­ing cir­cle and slim roof pil­lars for clear vis­i­bil­ity when park­ing or pulling out.

You can spec­ify a city pack of park­ing sen­sors and fold­ing mir­rors if you want to pre­serve the body from dam­age at a cost of £300.

In town or on open roads the road noise was ever present and let you know how well the sus­pen­sion was cop­ing as most bumps were smoothly ab­sorbed with only a slight ten­dency for the car to roll around tighter turns.

The han­dling was bi­ased to­wards un­der­steer but it was en­tirely safe and sure­footed and there is a lot of tech­nol­ogy in the Ka+ to keep you out of trou­ble and help you pull away on hills for in­stance.

For all its vis­ual changes there is a fa­mil­iar look to the in­te­rior and Ford has not taken the op­por­tu­nity to up­grade the very small in­fo­tain­ment screen atop the clut­tered con­sole con­trast­ing with the big main in­stru­ments and sup­port­ing dis­plays which are very clear and easy to un­der­stand.

The Ford Ka+ is a model the com­pany had to in­tro­duce to widen the range and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if it im­pacts on the larger Fi­esta sales, al­though that is also get­ting a se­ri­ous re­vamp in 2017.

The Ka will al­ways be the baby in Ford’s fam­ily but the Ka+ turns it into a tod­dler.

TEST DRIVE FORD KA+

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