Ford Ka hatchback

£8,995 - £11,995

The Ford Ka is a small three-door city car that sits just below the Ford Fiesta and competes with models such as the Skoda Citigo, Kia Picanto and one of our favourite small cars, the Hyundai i10. It shares a platform with the Fiat 500, but that car is much more stylish and sophisticated – and so more expensive. The Ka was launched back in 2008, so you won’t be surprised to learn that a replacement, likely to be a five-door only, is due at the end of 2015.

Unfortunately, the current Ka shows its age in one of the most important places: the engine. There's only one: an elderly and lacklustre 1.2-litre petrol. Performance is good around town, but out on the open road and on motorways it struggles and isn’t very refined. The car is reasonably comfortable, though, and on the right road it can still be fun to drive.

Thanks to its tall profile, the model is quite roomy in the front, but as the roofline drops, rear-seat passengers lose some headroom. Legroom isn’t bad, though. There are some useful storage ideas, but the boot is quite small, while access to it is hampered a fairly high lip.

There's only one engine, but there are six trim levels to choose from, including two semi-permanent special editions based on the Zetec. Some of them such as Edge (the basic trim) and Titanium (the top of the range) are familiar from other Ford models. Our favourite is the mid-range Zetec, which has air-conditioning, alloy wheels, a heated windscreen (very useful on frosty mornings) and styling details inside and out that flatter this otherwise ageing model.

There are lots of options across the range, including rear parking sensors, a rear spoiler and a panoramic sunroof on Zetec (it's standard on Titanium). However, a sat-nav is noticeably absent from the list.

The Ka was last crash-tested by Euro NCAP several years ago, when it scored four out of the maximum five stars. Things have got tougher since, so we wouldn’t expect it to do as well if it was tested again today. Anti-lock brakes, braking assistance and front airbags are standard, but side airbags are only an option. The model is reliable and its engine is old enough to have had any problems ironed out.