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Ford Ka+ review

Auto Express logo Auto Express 27/03/2017 Auto Express

Our Rating: 
Refinement, price, space and practicality
Breathless engines, lacklustre design, limited trim range

The KA+ is a strong showing from Ford, offering plenty of practicality in a small hatchback at affordable prices. However, you pay the price for this in terms of design, even though interior quality is acceptable.

The KA+ rides and steers nicely but the main drawback compared to its rivals is the flat-feeling 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that isn’t all that efficient compared to the best in its class.


The Ford’s design focuses on versatility rather than flamboyance. There are a few colour choices that liven up the exterior, but there’s only one hue that comes free of charge: yellow.

A few styling lines and surface contours mean it’s not quite as bland as some rivals, such as the Suzuki Celerio, but the car’s shape means it’s always going to look functional rather than fast. 

It’s based on Ford’s global B small car platform that also underpins the Fiesta, so the mechanicals underneath have a proven track record. The way the car is packaged also means it’s roomy inside, which is where the practical dimensions come into their own. 

Ford Ka+ vs Skoda Citigo vs Vauxhall Viva

You can seat three adults in the rear at a push, which is still better than in many cars of a similar price. Four-up the KA+ is more comfortable, though, with a fair amount of legroom.

The dashboard design uses many cues from the outgoing Fiesta, so while the fascia looks a little messy in terms of its layout, at least quality is good at this level of the market. Plastics higher up in the cabin are of reasonable quality and best described as robust lower down in the cabin.

The instruments look like they were borrowed from the final generation of Escort, while there aren’t any digital screens in the binnacle to show different driving data.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The entry-level Studio trim gets electric front windows, air con, Bluetooth and a system called MyFord Dock, which clamps your smartphone to the top of the dash. This means you use the capability in your mobile device for the likes of sat-nav.

Zetec trim (expected to be the most popular with a predicted 80 per cent of sales) adds 15-inch alloys, DAB, Ford’s SYNC system and AppLink for improved connectivity, while rear electric windows and parking sensors, automatic climate control and heated front seats are all optionally available on the top trim level.

The radio is a simple affair and easy to use, but compared to some optional systems on other city cars and superminis, the car’s value roots are easy to spot.


There are two power outputs from the 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine, which is derived from the 1.25-litre unit found in the outgoing Fiesta. This new unit features variable valve timing to help boost flexibility.

The 69bhp version isn’t quite as torquey as the higher-powered unit, offering 105Nm to the pokier unit’s 84bhp and 112Nm. With no turbocharger the engine doesn’t have the punch of downsized units in some rivals, but while it’s more powerful than naturally aspirated competitors like the Skoda Citigo (which offers a 59bhp or 74bhp version of its 1.0-litre three cylinder), it doesn’t feel it.

No matter what its power output, the engine is slow to rev and doesn’t feel very lively. There’s not a lot of point in extending it beyond 4,000rpm. Just settle in to the fact that you won’t be going anywhere fast and keep the KA+ at a more leisurely pace.

The 0-62mph sprint takes 15.3 seconds in the 69bhp car, with the 84bhp’s extra performance dropping this to 13.3 seconds. Top speeds for the respective engine variants stand at 99mph and 105mph.

While engine performance might be a let down, refinement isn’t. Engine noise is relatively well suppressed and there’s not much wind rush around the door mirrors either, given this is a fairly cheap car.

Ford Ka+ vs Dacia Sandero

You don’t get any nasty clonks from the suspension, which stems from the composed ride as the chassis mixes comfort and composure in equal measure.

Those changes Ford has made to the chassis have really worked. The steering is positive, while the damping ties the body down nicely but offers enough compliance to absorb all but the very worst bumps. The KA+ is relatively comfortable and one of the more sophisticated small cars when it comes to ride and handling.  With short overhangs, it feels stable even at higher speed.

In fact, apart from the engine, it feels remarkably similar to a Fiesta to drive. The five-speed manual is easy to use, making the KA+ light work in heavy traffic, thanks to its positive shift action.

Given this is a no-frills small car there aren’t any configurable driving modes. But the KA+ doesn’t particularly need them; its honest character means it’s capable and competent rather than exciting or sporty.


We’d go for the lower-powered 69bhp version of the KA+ 1.2-litre engine as the gain in performance with the higher-power motor isn’t necessary where the KA+ will spend most of its time – in the urban areas.

There’s an acceptable level of performance at town speeds, but if you’ll be spending time travelling at higher speeds on dual carriageways or motorways, you might want the small amount of extra grunt the 74bhp unit brings.

For most of the time the difference isn’t too noticeable unless you’re asking for everything the engines have to offer. But even then, there isn’t much gained. The lower power model doesn’t offer an emissions benefit, although it is cheaper if you’re looking for small car practicality on a shoestring.

While the KA+ can’t quite match the efficiency of cars such as the Skoda Citigo, with both units emitting a claimed 114g/km CO2, it should be relatively affordable to run.

There’s no difference in claimed fuel economy between the two power outputs either, with both engine variants returning 56.5mpg. 

However, due to the engine’s sluggish acceleration, you have to work it quite hard, which sees fuel economy take a hit. Our time with the car saw it return just over 40mpg, whereas rivals like the Citigo get closer to 50mpg.

With a 42-litre fuel tank this shortfall in economy means you’ll still get a decent range of around 400 miles between fill-ups.

Insurance groups

The entry-level Studio model is only rated at group 1 in terms of insurance, so it should be cheap to cover.

Even if you upgrade to Zetec trim and add the higher power engine, the KA+ still only comes in at group 5, so insuring the car will be relatively inexpensive no matter what model you go for. There aren’t really any options you can add to improve security and lower your premiums any further, though.


Depreciation is on a par with the KA+’s main rival from Skoda and our favourite city car – the Citigo. The KA+ Zetec will hold onto just under 40 per cent of its value from new, while the entry-level Studio model will retain slightly more of its value after three years/36,000 miles – it’ll be worth nearly 42 per cent of its original value.

These are respectable values, and while not the best in the sector, the KA+ will hold onto an average amount of its purchase price, which combined with Ford’s attractive finance deals should make it affordable to buy and own.

Given it’s not as stylish or as sophisticated as cars like the Citigo, the Ford’s depreciation levels are respectable.


There’s just one body style available in the KA+ range, but that’s no bad thing, as the five-door shape gives plenty of practicality.

Unlike some small hatchbacks and city cars, it’s a full five seater, with a good level of space for rear passengers – the raised front seats mean you can tuck your feat under the seat in front.


At 3.9 metres long the KA+ is compact, but still slightly larger than a conventional city car. Although the Ford does straddle the line between city car and supermini, offering practicality of the latter with pricing of the former. 

It’s 1.7 metres wide, making it easy to navigate through tight city streets, while the body stands more than 1.5 metres tall, which is where the decent headroom comes from.

Leg room, head room and passenger space

Despite its compact dimensions the KA+ is roomy inside, with good head and legroom. This is thanks in part to the higher, more upright seating position made possible by the taller roof, which adds extra legroom in the rear.

The front seats have also been raised up, so while you sit high, it means rear passengers can tuck their feet under the seats in front, allowing Ford to maximise the car’s packaging.

As a result your knees won’t be jammed up against the seat in front, although anyone over six-foot tall will start to feel the squeeze. Still, for a car of this size the cabin is fairly large and practical. Isofix points mean you’ll be able to use child seats, too.


There’s a 270-litre boot with the rear seats in place – including 13 litres of underfloor storage – while this rises to a useful 849 litres if you fold the seats down. While it’s one of the biggest with its seats up, with them folded down it’s actually not quite as voluminous as a Citigo.

Other interesting features include 21 different storage locations, which Ford is particularly proud of. These include areas for bottles and trays for smartphones and other trinkets. There is a pronounced boot lip to lift bags over, however.


As part of the tweaks to make the KA+ more suitable for Europe, safety has been improved over the Indian-market model, where the KA+ is built. Strengthening that has made the car better to drive has also made it stronger, so it’ll stand up to a crash better. However, when Euro NCAP tested the KA+ it still only received a middling three-star rating.

ESP is standard and about the extent of the safety kit offered. There’s an optional City Pack, which adds rear parking sensors to help when manoeuvring, but the KA+ isn’t that big anyway, so it’s easy to park.

With simple, proven mechanicals underpinning the car, the KA+ should be fairly reliable. Plus there’s not much tech inside to go wrong.


Ford’s standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty is relatively standard for the industry, so the coverage offered on the KA+ means if anything goes wrong early in your ownership it should be easy to sort, thanks to Ford’s widespread dealer network.

One year’s free roadside assistance cover means if you breakdown inside the first 12 months you’ll be covered.


Again, the simple mechanicals mean the KA+ should be cost-effective to keep on the road. With just one petrol engine it means servicing prices are competitive.

Ford’s fixed-price servicing plan is competitively priced.

Ford Ka+ - front © Auto Express Ford Ka+ - front

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