Ford Ka 1.2 Studio

Connect

Ford Ka, interior
Ford Ka, rear

FORD'S teenie city car, the Ka, has earned a good deal of respect during its 18-year reign, coping with quite demanding conditions at times.

Like the time, in deepest Brittany, it soldiered valiantly on ice-packed roads that hadn't seen a speck of salt or grit during a lengthy Siberian blast.

It proved a real trouper and performed strongly and confidently (far more than the driver) and shimmied its way towards the Channel ports - safely and soundly.

The Ka, then several years after its debut in 1996, was presented more as a mighty mini with muscles as well as dapper looks.

Move on a decade and more and the Ka is in a different ball game where city street considerations are top of the priority list.

The pronounced limpet look has been softened - though the Ka still swanks an attractive and distinctive shell. But you get the feeling that the mechanics and dynamics are more softly, softly styled.

The car came with the Hobson's Choice 1.2-litre Duratec petrol engine with automatic stop/start. It is light-hearted and nippy enough around town, its natural environment. 

However, it laboured at high speed on the open road and on motorway when engine noise increases markedly. Not something that registered with me in earlier models.

Steering is delightfully precise and feather-light - a bonus in restricted, clogged-up streets where parking is often a shoe-horn affair. But the steering firms up sufficiently to reassure as the Ka picks up speed away from the urban jungle.

Surprisingly, the suspension set-up makes a decent ride for a city car and, together with that low profile and decent grip, ensures respectable road-holding and impressive cornering with very little lurch.

The five-speed manual gearbox works impressively smoothly and is well-suited to the 67bhp engine. It accommodates brisk selection necessary to generate sufficient urge for higher speeds. Take your eye off the ball and performance will be a let-down.

Even under duress, the engine, though vocal, copes well enough and the brakes bite impressively. Still, today's Ka seemed to lack the bolshy verve of its early predecessors.

It is not the cheapest nor the most economical in the city car segment but it does a decent job, returning an average 57.7mpg and emitting acceptable CO2 levels of 115g/km.

The Ka, which now shares underpinnings with Fiat's 500 model, does still offer good internal space (and better than quite a few rivals) with excellent boot space - marred by a high-rise load lip.

Ford's city car still has style on its side, but it is a little pricey, starting at £9,000, with disappointing equipment levels on lower trim models.

The entry Studio trim model, starting at £9,000, doesn't get remote central locking or electric windows and misses out on important things like electronic stability control and side airbags. In the base model MP3 connection and a six-speaker stereo are standard.

The Studio Connect, as in the test car, adds Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls and USB, (£9,295), plus options of ESP, paintwork, reversing parking sensors and spare wheel to push the price up to £10,415, which is expensive compared with some, but not all rivals.

FAST FACTS

Ford Ka 1.2 Studio Connect

Price: £10,415

Mechanical: 69bhp, 1,242cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 99mph 

0-62mph: 13.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 3

Insurance Group: 57.7

C02 emissions: 115g/km

Bik rating: 16%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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