Ford Ka+ Active (2018-2019) Review
It’s small and frugal, with off-roading looks. But is it a good value alternative to a regular supermini?
Strengths & weaknesses
- Cheap to buy
- Rufty-tufty looks
- Dated interior
- No four-wheel-drive
- Petrol engine is glacially slow
Used Ford KA+ Active prices from £10,200 Finance from £166.47 per month
In 2003, the Rover Streetwise was unleashed into the world. It was a supermini with a beefed up exterior, which looked a bit like a miniature off-roader. It didn’t catch on.
Maybe it was ahead of its time, though, because there has since been a whole range of mini-SUVS appearing on the market, including the Ford Ka+ Active, a beefed up version of the Ford Ka+.
It goes toe-to-toe with the likes of the Vauxhall Viva Rocks, Fiat Panda Cross and Suzuki Ignis, and offers a cheap way for drivers to get behind the wheel of a small car with the raised ride height of an SUV.
The Active spec adds new 15-inch wheels, a painted black grille, and roof rails over the regular Ka+, which bring a needed bit of spice to the car.
It’s 23mm taller than the regular Ka+ too, thanks to its higher suspension. This extra ride height will happily help out while mounting a kerb, but won’t really help when climbing a mountain.
When it was new, prices for the Ka+ Active were a little on the high side, but compared to rivals like the Suzuki Ignis it featured more standard kit. For example, you’ll find a touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, electric door mirrors, and hill start assist on all models.
Inside, it does feel dated. It’s based off the previous-generation Ford Fiesta and feels as old as it looks. The font and colours of the dials behind the steering wheel are reminiscent of a 1970s video game.
There is a decent amount of space. The added height gives passengers more headroom, and four adults can travel comfortably. At 270 litres, the boot is only slightly smaller than the larger Ford Fiesta.
The controls are simple, light, and easy to use. The buttons throughout are neatly arranged and easy to find, and heating controls are operated via physical switches rather than the more modern use of a touchscreen.
Look down to the left of the driver's seat, and there’s a five-speed manual gearbox. There’s no automatic option, but the five-speed is easy enough to use, and the clutch is light too.
When looking for used Ford Ka+ Active models on BuyaCar, the most popular option is likely to be the 1.2-litre petrol engine. However, Ford also sold a 1.5-litre diesel option, which accounted for less than one in 10 sales.
The petrol is enough for most people who just want a car for mostly town and city driving. It feels and sounds coarse under hard acceleration, which you will need to do if you want to get up to motorway speeds or up particularly steep hills.
It rides well, and efficiently soaks up rough urban roads. The fact that you’re relatively high up and further away from the road helps to reduce vibrations from potholes. It handles surprisingly well too, with little lean around twisting country roads. Visibility is brilliant, which gives you plenty of confidence to squeeze through tight spots.
The Fiat Panda Cross and Suzuki Ignis are more capable off-road, and the Vauxhall Viva Rocks is cheaper. But if you want something compact, with off-roading looks, it’s worth your consideration.
It’s a hard car to recommend over a regular supermini, like a Ford Fiesta. While the Fiesta is likely to be more expensive, it does have a nicer interior, a better selection of engines, and is physically larger, offering more room for passengers.
|Warranty||Three years/60,000 miles|
|Boot size||270 litres/849 litres|
|Tax (min to max)||165 in the first year, £140 thereafter|
Best Ford Ka+ Active for...
Best for Economy – Ford Ka+ Active 1.5 TDCi
There are no prizes for guessing that the diesel engine is more economical than the petrol version. The latest kind of real-world testing puts it a respectable 56.5mpg.
Best for Families – Ford KA+ Active 1.2Ti-VCT petrol
We shouldn’t imagine people are going to do galactic mileage in such a small car, so most families will prefer the cheaper petrol engine.
Best for Performance – Ford Ka+ Active 1.5TDCi
Neither the petrol or diesel engine make the Ka+ Active fast car. The petrol takes 13.5 seconds in the 0-62mph sprint, where as the diesel will do the same in 11 seconds.
2016 New Ka+ launched
2018 Ka+ Active comes to the UK
Understanding Ford Ka+ Active names
Engine 1.2 Ti-VCT
There’s one petrol, or one diesel engine on offer. The petrol is a 1.2-litre, and is badged 1.2 Ti-VCT. The diesel is a 1.5-litre and is badged 1.5 TDCi.
There’s only one trim to pick from, and it’s simply called Active.
One option here too - a five-speed manual.
Ford Ka+ Active Engines
1.2 Ti-VCT, 1.5 TDCi
Engine choices are simple with the Ka+ Active - there’s a petrol and a diesel.
The petrol (badged 1.2 Ti-VCT) will be the big seller, and one most people gravitate to naturally. It suits the Ka+ Active better than the diesel, because the car will mostly be used by people who travel regular journeys, at slow speeds, in and out of towns and cities.
For that, the engine is fine. Under hard acceleration it is loud, but once it gets up to the desired speed, it does settle down to a quiet thrum. There’s very little urgency low down in the revs, and it really takes revving to around 6,5000rpm to get into its stride. This essentially means you’ll be making the most out of the gearbox, having to keep changing down should you need an urgent acceleration boost.
This is the first time a diesel engine has been offered with the KA+ Active. On paper the 1.5 TDCi looks good; it’s a fair chunk faster than the petrol and is also more economical. Whether it’s worth the extra money or not is dependent on how many miles you cover.
0 - 62mph
Ford Ka+ Active Trims
There’s only one trim level for this derivative, simply called Active. Most of the changes over the regular Ka+ are on the outside.
The biggest change is in its stance. It’s 23mm taller than the regular Ka+ and comes with new 15-inch alloy wheels too. Unique to the Active is a bodykit, which includes a painted black grille, roof rails and a different nose.
Elsewhere, it’s filled with gadetry you’d expect for this price. There’s a 6.5-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as hill start assist, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. It also gets electric door mirrors and front windows. But rear passengers will have to wind their windows manually.
Used Ford Ka+ Active
In 2018, around 40% of the Ka models sold in the UK were Active versions. So a fair few will be floating around on the used market.
Diesel choices will be extremely limited on the used market because less than one in 10 sold had this engine.