Believe it or not, this Ford Ka and the Fiat 500 are related. They’re the result of an alliance between the two brands, but although the models share many major components, they have quite different characters.
Not only is the Ka more conventional-looking than the 500, it also feels a little less upmarket and fashionable. And while the 500 comes with a choice of efficient, up-to-date petrol and diesel engines, the Ka is available with just one: a rather elderly 1.2-litre petrol. It's zippy enough around town, but on the open road and motorways it feels underpowered and can be quite noisy.
On the plus side, the Ford is more comfortable than the Fiat, thanks to its softer suspension, while in the right circumstances, it's also slightly more entertaining to drive. However, on that score, the nimble Skoda Citigo beats both of them.
The Ford Ka is available in seven trim levels, ranging from basic Studio to range-topping Metal and Grand Prix III. All versions have good safety equipment, body-coloured bumpers and tinted glass.
The basic Studio is exactly that, and best avoided. Instead, we recommend the mid-price Zetec for its air-conditioning, front foglights, larger 15-inch alloy wheels and smart-looking privacy glass. Extras are reasonably priced and include a rear spoiler and a panoramic sunroof. However, across all models, sat-nav is notably absent from the options list.
Higher-specification versions offer snazzier detailing and finishes, but are likely to cost you more in depreciation than the Zetec.
Funky though it looks, the Ford Ka is no longer competitive in today's fiercely fought city-car class and is in urgent need of replacement – an all-new model is rumoured to be arriving sometime in 2015).
Our 2014 Car of the Year, the Hyundai i10, is a much more satisfying alternative on all fronts, as is the Skoda Citigo. Meanwhile, the Ka's sister model, the Fiat 500, has a lot more charm as well as a wider choice of engines that are much more economical.