Ford Ka hatchback (2009-2016)
“The Ford Ka is a three-door city car known for its style and fun drive. Its replacement is the Ford Ka+, with extra space for passengers and more power”
- Large dealer network
- Sharply styled
- Good to drive
- Pricey for a city car
- Not that cheap to run
- Only one engine available
Although it was replaced in 2016 by the five door Ford Ka+, the three-door Ford Ka is still worth considering as a secondhand buy. It shares its underpinnings with the Fiat 500, which it considerably undercuts in terms of price, and although it doesn't match its Italian sister for style, it does much to make up for this in other regards.
If you don't need direct access for rear seat passengers, it makes a cost-effective alternative to the Kia Picanto or Hyundai i10, and is usually less costly to buy than the Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen up! or SEAT Mii city cars, all three of which are nearly identical to each other. It also arguably has a more 'grown-up' feel than the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 or Citroen C1, three more near-identical triplets.
If one thing lets the Ka down, it's the relatively dated four-cylinder petrol engine it's powered by – there's no diesel, nor was the Ka available with a modern three-cylinder turbocharged petrol like some of its rivals. However, 57.6mpg is still reasonable, even if 68bhp is decidedly behind the pace by today's standards.
However, the Ka maintained the reputation set by the its first model to carry the name way back in 1996 – it's great fun to drive once you're up to speed. It grips the road well, can carry a lot of speed through corners and can certainly entertain on a country road. It's not so much fun on the motorway, though, where the engine noise can grow fatiguing and you're likely to yearn for more overtaking punch.
As a practical machine, the Ka is limited by having only two doors. However, once inside there's impressive space in the front, with particularly generous headroom thanks to its curvy roofline. The rather cosy rear seats are best reserved for children, though, or folded down to extend the boot, which isn't quite as accommodating as that of a Skoda Citigo or Hyundai i10. It also has a fairly pronounced lip to haul luggage over, which can be a little awkward when loading heavy items.
Although only one engine was offered, Ka buyers could choose from no fewer than six trim levels – although two of these, the 'White' and 'Black', were heavily based on the mid-range Zetec. The entry-level Studio was rather basic inside, but the range-topping Titanium was quite lavishly equipped and looks like good used value these days.
You're likely to find more Zetec models than any other, though – it was deservedly the most popular model, with a sensible feature count that included 16-inch alloy wheels and a heated front windscreen. Parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof and rear spoiler were offered as options.
Ford came a disappointing 19th out of 27 manufacturers in our 2017 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, that's some way ahead of 23rd-place Vauxhall, but way behind the likes of Skoda which enjoys second position. Being an older model, the Ka lacks the latest safety technology, and could only manage four stars out of five when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2008.