Ford Ka+ (2016-2019) Review
A roomy and practical city car but the Ford Ka+ is let down by underpowered engines
Strengths & weaknesses
- Spacious interior
- Comfortable and nimble
- Cheap to buy new or used
- Anonymous design
- Underpowered engines
- Lacks useful safety technology
Used Ford Ka+ prices from £7,399 Finance from £134.01 per month
City cars are miracles of performance and packaging, and the Ford Ka+ is no exception. While its price pitches it against cars such as the VW Up and Hyundai i10, its size means it treads on the toes of larger cars such as the VW Polo and Hyundai i20.
That’s because it’s based on the Ford Fiesta that came before it, which enabled Ford to keep the price low because it didn't have to develop a new car. It offers more space than the old Ka that it replaced - hence the reasoning behind its renaming to the Ka+.
Ford concentrated on practicality over style with a high roof, five doors, and a usefully large boot that’s only a few litres shy of the Fiesta's, and bigger than the Skoda Citigo’s, Hyundai i10’s and Fiat 500’s. It’s spoiled, though, by a high sill - which makes lifting heavier items into it more difficult - and the fact that the 60:40-split rear seats don't fold entirely flat, creating an awkward step.
The rear interior is roomy though. There’s lots of headroom and the front seat backs are shaped to create additional knee room. The back seats are quite upright which adds to the impression of space but prevents you stretching your legs. There’s space for three children along the back seat (there’s a proper seatbelt for the centre occupant) but room only for two adults to sit comfortably - a third is a real squeeze.
Remarkably, there are cup holders for both front and rear-seated passngers, and Ford claimed there are 21 storage cubbies in the car.
As if to emphasise the no-nonsense ambitions of the Ka+, there are just two engines, both 1.2-litre petrols, to choose from. They’re slow and outdated; no modern 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine here, but the more powerful one is noticeably quicker and not much more expensive. It’s definitely the one to choose as both return around 56mpg.
The Ka+ shares the same qualities that make the Fiesta fun to drive. The steering gives you a real sense of how far the wheels are turning, helping you to take corners and squeeze through gaps more accurately. The five-speed gearbox is precise, and the car resists leaning in corners while ironing out potholes and bumps. In fact, ride comfort is one of the car’s most impressive qualities.
The interior is similar in looks to the old Ford Fiesta it’s based on - so it’s button-strewn and looks every bit like a car from the early 2010s. Ford has done a good job of disguising the low-budget nature of the Ka+ but look closer and there are signs of cost-cutting in the finish, with cheaper materials, and the way that the boot ‘clangs’ shut.
Entry-level Studio trim is not badly equipped. It has electric front windows and Bluetooth, but Zetec - the next trim in the range - is the one to have for its smarter alloy wheels, digital radio and 'Applink' software, giving you the ability to control some apps on your smartphone through the car’s voice control and steering wheel buttons.
|Warranty||3 years/60,000 miles|
|Boot size||270 litres|
|Tax||From £165 in first year, £140 thereafter|
Best Ford Ka+ for...
Best for Economy – Ford Ka+ 1.2 70hp Zetec
Both the 70hp and 85hp engines promise 56.5mpg and cost the same to tax. If you mainly drive around town, the 70hp version should prove pretty economical, however if you find yourself driving on faster roads often, then the more powerful model could be the better choice.
Best for Families – Ford Ka+ 1.2 85hp Zetec
With its stronger performance and MyKey convenience, a system that allows parents to adapt the car’s performance to younger, less experienced drivers, this version is the best for a small family.
Best for Performance – Ford Ka+ 1.2 85hp Colour Edition
It’s no faster than the standard 85hp Zetec on which it’s based but the Colour Edition does at least look the part with its contrasting paint scheme and rear privacy glass.
One to Avoid – Ford Ka+ 1.2 70hp Studio
The most basic specification and slowest engine do nothing for the appeal of the Ka+.
- 2016 Ka+ launched with a 1.2-litre petrol engine in two power outputs (70hp and 85hp) and two trims (Studio and Zetec). All do 56.5mpg and emit 114g/km CO2.
- 2017 Colour Edition range, based on Zetec, arrives bringing a choice of two sporty-looking styles: Black Edition and White Edition.
Understanding Ford Ka+ names
In name, the Ka+ recalls Ford’s discontinued Ka three-door supermini. Otherwise, there’s no relationship, the Ka+ being based on the larger Fiesta and intended to bridge the gap between tiny city cars and compact superminis.
Engine 1.2 85hp
The figure ‘1.2’ is the size of the petrol engine in litres, and 85hp is its power output. A lower powered 70hp version does duty in the Studio, but it's very slow and no more economical, yet costs the same to tax.
There are two core trim levels: basic Studio and mid-level Zetec, both familiar from other Ford models. Meanwhile, a sporty-looking Colour Edition range joined the line-up based on the Zetec 1.2 85hp and available in Black Edition and White Edition.
Ford Ka+ Engines
1.2 70PS, 1.2 85PS
The Ka+ is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine, available in a choice of 70hp or 85hp power outputs. Although the powertrain features regenerative battery charging, a system that converts wasted energy when braking or coasting into electrical power, the engine itself is quite conventional.
All that said, the more powerful 85hp engine is as quick as cars such as the Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPi 75hp, if not as frugal or cheap to tax. The 70hp version on the other hand is very slow and best avoided, certainly if you regularly undertake long journeys or drive fully loaded.
Ford Ka+ Trims
Studio opens the Ka+ trim range, but it’s not as basic you might expect for a car at this price. True, looks-wise you get the obligatory steel wheels with plastic covers but on the upside there’s lashings of body-colouring both of the bumpers and wing mirrors which feature smart, integrated indicators.
The interior benefits from electric front windows, 60:40-split and fold rear seats, a mobile phone dock and Bluetooth but otherwise it is a little dowdy. Still, the things you can’t see, including a perimeter alarm and hill-start assist, as well as mandatory things like electronic stability control and tyre pressure monitoring, make it a decently equipped entry model. A glaring omission, either as standard or an option, is emergency city brake, which does so much to reduce low-speed collisions and drive down insurance premiums.
This feature isn’t available on Zetec trim, either. However, alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a digital radio with Applink and 4.2-inch screen, cruise control and a leather-covered steering wheel all are. It also has Ford’s MyKey system that allows parents, for example, to tailor the car’s performance to younger, less experienced users. It’s well worth the additional £1,000 cost over Studio models.
Ford Ka+ Reliability and warranty
In the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, Ford finished 26th for the reliability of its cars, out of 32 manufacturers. In the same survey, the Ford Fiesta, on which the Ka+ is based, charted an unimpressive 97th out of 150 models.
At least it’s covered by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, although this does lag behind Hyundai’s more confident five-year and Kia’s industry-leading seven-year warranties.
Used Ford Ka+
There are plenty of used Ka+ models available, so you have lots of choice when it comes to picking one that suits your needs.
Aim to get a 1.2 85hp Zetec, as this is just as economical as the less powerful version and performs better on faster roads, with little difference in price between the two.