The Ford Ka is a three-door city car that competes with rivals like the Kia Picanto, Skoda Citigo and the excellent Hyundai i10. As the smallest model in Ford's range, the Ka retains some of the driver involvement the brand is famed for, but is let down by its engine, which needs to be worked hard to make progress – particularly on the motorway. The Ka is also due for replacement imminently, so our advice would be to wait for the new model to come along.
The 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine Ford fits to the Ka returns reasonable fuel economy of 57.6mpg, and while the £30 annual road-tax bill it incurs is unlikely to break the bank, many rivals offer models that are road-tax-exempt thanks to their lower CO2 emissions. The Ka is enjoyable to drive around town and on twisty back roads, but on the motorway its limited power means you’ll soon tire of effort needed to keep pace with traffic.
Inside, the Ka offers a decent amount of room for the driver and front-seat passenger, but any adults in the rear are likely to find the sloping roofline cutting into their headroom – although there's good legroom considering the Ka's small stature. While the boot is reasonably sized for a city car, the Hyundai i10 and Skoda Citigo both offer more luggage space, while the Ka also has a pronounced load lip, which makes packing bags in harder than it needs to be.
While there's only one engine available, Ford offers the Ka in six trim levels, including special ‘White’ and ‘Black’ editions of the mid-range Zetec. The entry-level Studio does without niceties like electric windows and alloy wheels, so is best avoided. At the other end of the scale, spending the £3,000 or so extra that Ford asks for top-of-the-range Titanium trim doesn’t make sense for a car in this price bracket.
We recommend the mid-range Zetec, as this comes with useful extras like split-folding rear seats, 16-inch alloy wheels and Ford's excellent Quickclear heated front windscreen. The options list is relatively limited (there's no sat nav available, for instance) but you can specify parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof and a rear spoiler should you wish.
Reliability hasn’t been Ford's strongest suit of late, and the brand sat in 25th place (out of 32 manufacturers) in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. The Ka's safety credentials are also mildly disappointing: while a four-star Euro NCAP rating is far from disastrous, many rivals (like the Skoda Citigo, for instance) managed the full five stars.