The Ford Ka is the product of a joint project with Fiat, so it's basically a Fiat 500 without the retro styling but with a Ford badge on the bonnet. As it's a bit less upmarket than the Italian car, it's also cheaper to buy, but unfortunately a rather dated engine makes it costlier to run.
Unlike the Fiat, which has received regular engine updates throughout its time on sale, the Ford is offered with just the one 1.2-litre petrol that simply can’t compete with the exceptionally low running costs of the competition. This 68bhp engine offers decent performance in town, but struggles with motorway driving, where it feels short on power and becomes rather noisy.
The Ford Ka's suspension goes some way to making up for this, as it's more comfortable than the Fiat 500's and also makes the Ka marginally better to drive. It's not as much fun as the Skoda Citigo – or the previous Ford Ka – but on the right road the little Ford can still put a smile on your face.
The Ka has always been quite pricey, and the basic model is pretty sparsely equipped, with just a standard stereo, 12v power socket and stop-start technology coming as standard. Trim levels including this basic Studio, then there's Studio Connect, Edge, Zetec, Titanium, Metal and the top-of-the-range Grand Prix III. The mid-range Zetec model has air-conditioning, larger alloy wheels and front foglights, making it our pick of the range. Ford doesn’t offer sat nav in the Ka (even as an option) and while it's possible to buy an aftermarket system, this spoils the neat interior layout.
Overall, the Ka needs a makeover to be competitive in such a hotly contested class. The Hyundai i10 (our Car of the Year) and the Skoda Citigo are both more refined and practical choices, while the Fiat 500 has more character and a wider range of engines with lower running costs.