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Used car focus: Ford Ka – 1996 onwards

Ka is the offbeat supermini that changed the way Ford thought about designing and packaging cars. It also altered some buyers’ perceptions of Ford; style-conscious mid-market motorists who shunned the Fiesta and Escort found Ka was kool.

Ford’s entry model may not look as radical as it once did, but it’s one of the best all-round superminis. Competitively priced and cheap to run, it has an enduring appeal across age groups and genders. A testament to its appeal is that there has been no major facelift during its nine-year lifespan.

LINE-UP

Seven standard models have featured in the line-up since launch: Ka, Style, Ka 2, Ka Collection, Ka 3 and LuxuryKa.

Base model Ka offers no-frills fun, but top-of-the-range Ka 3 and LuxuryKa get air-con, remote central locking and alloy wheels as standard. The SportKa from 2003, has energetic styling and a zesty 1.6-litre engine.

There are also a dozen or so colour co-ordinated and specification-enhanced editions – the sought after Black model was kitted with leather upholstery, air-con and alloy wheels.

DRIVING/PERFORMANCE

Think of Ka as a comfortable go-kart – its handling is balanced, the steering is precise and the Fiesta-derived 60bhp engine is punchy and suits the car well. The 1.6 SportKa with close-ratio gearing is a real little buzz bomb, gleefully hitting its rev limiter in top gear if you let it.

But the old 1.3 Endura engine is capable enough: pull-away is effortless and it doesn’t need to be revved hard – best performance comes from changing up early.

Good visibility and a short body make it easy to park. Power steering was optional on the basic Ka before 1997, but standard after. It’s desirable, but it blunts acceleration and imposes a fuel consumption penalty: 42.2mpg combined with PAS, as opposed to 47.9mpg without. COMFORT

Ka occupants enjoy a supple ride and good space in the front; the rear is fine for children, and the big doors make access fairly easy. Load space could be better and some taller rivals are now more creative with interior room.

SAFETY/SECURITY

An average three-star rating was awarded by Euro NCAP; driver’s airbag is standard, but a passenger airbag and ABS are optional. There’s an immobiliser but no alarm; and it’s considered to be easier to break into than the 1995 generation Fiesta on which it is based.

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