Ford Ka (2008-2016) Review
Despite good looks, the Ford Ka is outclassed by safer and more efficient models
Strengths & weaknesses
- Better to drive than Fiat 500
- Huge Ford dealer network
- Sharp styling
- Limited engine choices
- Cramped rear seats and boot
- Poor safety
The first Ford Ka was a runaway success thanks to cute looks and surprisingly solid feel. Customers continued to buy the car for 12 years - from 1996 to 2008 - but its replacement, which was built until 2016, wasn't such a hit.
The car has now been replaced with the new Ford Ka+, which is larger and more practical.
Even when it first went on sale in 2008, the Ka was outclassed by some of its competitors. It was no cheaper than other city cars, but less practical than models such as the Skoda Citigo and less fuel efficient than both of them.
The interior feels dated, and there wasn't an option for features like a dashboard touchscreen or reversing camera like you get on a Toyota Aygo. It’s decently built, but the layout of some of the controls is counter-intuitive, such as the electric window controls, which aren't on the door, but in the middle secton of the dashboard. The radio is very old-fashioned and the three-door-only layout means it’s more difficult than it should be to reach the rear seats.
There are only two engine options when looking for a used KA - a 1.2-litre petrol that, like the rest of the car, felt abit outdated, and a 1.3-litre diesel which isn't much better.
The area where the KA most feels its age is in safety equipment. It’s almost unheard of for a car these days to only come with two standard airbags - yet the KA does, with side and curtain airbags being optional on all but the top-spec models. A four-star Euro NCAP rating unfortunately doesn’t mean very much as the KA was awarded these back in 2008 when the tests were far less stringent
There’s little to recommend the Ford KA - but this does mean that you may be able to pick up a second-hand version for an extremely low price.
|Warranty||3 years/60,000 miles|
|Boot size||224 litres|
Best Ford Ka for...
Best for Economy – Ford Ka 1.2 Studio
An official rating of 58mpg sounds good, but it’s a long way behind the claimed 74.3mpg of a Citroen C1.
Best for Families – Ford Ka 1.2 Style
The Ford Ka is unlikely to be a family’s only car, but it’s still worth stepping up to the mid-range trim to give ‘easy entry’ front seats, air-conditioning, remote central locking and electric windows.
Best for Performance – Ford Ka 1.2 Zetec
All petrol Kas have identical performance, with a leisurely 0-60 time of 13.4 seconds. Speed freaks should look elsewhere but at least the Ka is available with ‘racing’ stripes and decals from the dealer.
One to Avoid – Ford Ka 1.2 Studio
Sparsely equipped entry-level cars are common at this end of the market - but manual door locks, manual windows and no air-conditioning make this a car to avoid.
2008: New model replaces the long-serving and much loved Ka.
2011: ‘Individual’ variants introduced, with extra styling flair.
2013: 1.3 CDTi diesel is dropped, leaving 1.2 petrol as the only engine choice.
2015: Special edition ‘Black’ and ‘White’ models introduced.
2016: Production ends. The car is replaced with the new Ford Ka+
Understanding Ford Ka names
Engine 1.2 (69)
The Ka was available with a single petrol engine, and a diesel, which was badged 1.3 CDTi.
Each trim lineup offers a different level of standard equipment. The most spartan was Studio, followed by Style, Zetec and Titanium trims.
Ford Ka Engines
1.2 petrol, 1.3 diesel
The engine choice in the Ford Ka is really simple - there are only two, a petrol and a diesel.
The petrol us the same 1.2-litre engine that can be found in the Fiat 500, however unlike that model it’s not recieved the same range of updates to keep it competitive on fuel economy and emissions. That’s why even the most economical driver won’t return more than 58mpg.
The engine itself isn’t especially nice to use either. It’s very noisy when revved - a Hyundai i10 is quieter and more refined. It’s not very powerful either, and a Peugeot 108’s 1.2-litre engine is much faster and more flexible.
The Ka was was also available with a 1.3-litre diesel engine, which suited the car better. It also gave great fuel economy figures - but it made for a very expensive car and as a result not many people bought one, which makes it harder to find on the used market.
Ford Ka Trims
Studio, Style, Zetec, Titanium
The Ford Ka comes with a choice of four standard trim levels, and a couple of special editions which add a little extra kit and some styling details.
The special editions were expensive, but none of the range was particularly cheap when new - the entry level Studio car came with manual windows, no air-conditioning and manual locking.
One item worth paying for is the four extra airbags - standard cars only come with two.
Ford Ka Reliability and warranty
The Ford Ka shares a lot of its parts with the Fiat 500 and Fiat Panda, including the engines. This is pretty good news as all the components are well-proven - but Fiat’s reputation for reliability isn’t the rosiest so make sure you keep your Ka well serviced, whether buying new or used. Thankfully Ford’s dealer network is huge and servicing is reasonably priced so that shouldn’t be too hard to do.
Ford only offered a 3 year/60,000 mile warranty on the Ka, which is nowhere near as long as the 7 year/100,000 mile warranty on a Kia Picanto.
Used Ford Ka
The Ka lost a considerable amount of value as soon as its first owners drove it away: there are so many other good options on the used market, that it's only worth considering at rock-bottom prices. It means that there's a vast choice of well-maintained, cheap models from £4,500.
There are only a few diesels around. This version was not often a good choice because it was fitted with an exhaust particulate filter to reduce harmful emissions. Many Ford Kas were just used around town and were rarely used on faster roads. These conditions can clog the filter, leading to an expensive repair bill.
It’s best to spend a little extra on a Ka in at least Style trim as these have remote locking and air-conditioning, which aren't on cheaper versions. That will not only make the car easier to live with, but easier to sell on afterwards.