Ford Ka hatchback

£8,995 - £11,995

The Ford Ka is the smallest model in the brand's range. It's a three-door city car that sits below the Fiesta and competes with the likes of the Kia Picanto, Skoda Citigo and the Hyundai i10 (one of our favourite small cars). It's based on the Fiat 500, but that model is more stylish and also more expensive to buy. The Ka has been around since 2008 in its current guise and a replacement is expected imminently – possibly with a more practical five-door body.

The big downside to the Ka – and where it really shows its age – is the engine. Only one is available – a 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol – and it lags a good way behind rivals’. It isn’t bad around town, but you have to work it quite hard on A-roads and motorways and it isn’t refined. The Ka is reasonably comfortable, though, as well as being fun to drive on the right road.

The Ka is tall for a city car, which means there's a decent amount of room in the front. The roof drops towards the back of the car, though, so rear-seat passengers don’t have much headroom – although legroom isn’t bad considering its overall size. The boot isn’t particularly big, either, and a high lip makes it hard to access.

Even though there's only one engine, trim levels are plentiful: there are six in total, two of which are special editions based on the mid-range Zetec. The basic Studio is very much that, as you hardly get any equipment at all, while the top-of-the-range Titanium model makes the Ka pretty well kitted out for a city car. Our pick is the Zetec, which has equipment such as 16-inch alloy wheels and Ford's Quickclear heated windscreen for fast demisting.

Options include rear parking sensors, a boot spoiler and a panoramic sunroof on the Zetec model (it comes as standard on the top-spec Titanium). Built-in sat-nav isn’t available, but Ford does offer a portable unit if you wish.

The Ka isn’t the best performer in the city car class when it comes to safety. It underwent Euro NCAP crash-testing several years ago when the requirements were less stringent and only managed a four-star rating then, so it might fail to match that if it were to be tested again today. Only two airbags (driver and front passenger) are standard – you have to buy the top-end Titanium model if you want curtain and side airbags, or spend extra on the options list.