Product Type: Ford cars
Newest Review: ... me think this car has been designed specifically with women drivers in mind. The dashboard is cream (Ford call this pearl white) as are so... more
When I'm driving in my Ka ....
Ford Ka 3 3-dr
Member Name: ladybracknell
Ford Ka 3 3-dr
Advantages: Cheap and reliable
Disadvantages: Not quite as cute as previous models
The experience of being rear ended by someone driving in excess of 100 miles an hour has left me realising the truth of the saying 'there are no pockets in shrouds', so I decided to bite the bullet and use some of my hard earned savings to buy a newer model.
My previous car was the old shaped Ka which I'd bought new for £5,500 but the new models of the reshaped Ka have a start price of around £7,500 and upwards which was just too much money, especially as the car will drop at least £1,000+ the minute it's driven off the forecourt and besides, I'm saving to have the bathroom redone and the difference will go a long way towards paying for that. So I decided to go for a used car instead and found myself a lovely 09 reg Ka Studio with only 8,000 miles on the clock. The selling price was lower than I expected which I think may be due to the fact that it has a stylised flower design in black on the doors. The salesman offered to have thess removed but I've decided to keep it because I reckon it will help me find the car when I've forgotten where I parked it, as frequently happens in those ultra large zoned car parks!
The original Ka was built on an old Fiesta chassis and the newer models, the salesman told me, are now built in Poland alongside Fiat hatchbacks and share the same chassis and engine as the new Fiat 500. Despite these shared components, the Fiat gets a full 5 star European safety rating and the Ka only 3.5 stars because it has a mere two airbags as opposed to Fiat's seven!
Engine Specification (copied, and heavily edited, from my handbook):
Cubic capacity: 1242 cc
Power: 69@5500 ps/rpm
Torque: 76@3000 lb/ft
I'm no car mechanic and I haven't a clue what the engine spec means. My car is simply used as a means of getting from A to B as comfortably and safely as possible so this review will be very much from a non-technical (and female) perspective but I hope it will be valid nonetheless.
The KA range of colours is pretty limited with only nine colours in the entire range and only two solid colours available for the Studio model, the Sunburst Red and Crystal, which is an off-white shade. The other shades, of course, have fancy names but essentially are light and dark silver, grey, black, turquoise and burgundy.
My car is in Sunburst Red which is a very in-your-face colour but at least means that it will be clearly visible to other drivers. Of course, being such a garish red, it does mean I'll no longer be able to wear pink when I'm driving, but I can live with that!
I can't say I'm too enamoured of the new shaping for the KA because it now looks like every other small car on the road. The previous shaping was cute and distinctive and I feel that some of the car's individuality has been taken away from it and replaced by blandness. I can't see that anything has been gained, although I'm guessing the little spoiler bit (I told you I wasn't technical) coming off the roof may have some aerodynamics that were previously lacking but, quite frankly, in a car with a top speed of 100 mph, aerodynamics are something of an irrelevance anyway.
The interior is suitably neutral. I daresay there are several colour and pattern options available but mine has grey fabric seats with a central 60s style floral pattern in lighter greys, which makes me think this car has been designed specifically with women drivers in mind. The dashboard is cream (Ford call this pearl white) as are some of the other elements of the interior which adds to the feeling of light and space. I do wonder though whether this cream shade will discolour with age and make the car interior look cheap. Only time will tell but it will certainly show up every little spot and speck of dirt, that's for sure.
The dashboard is definitely an improvement on the old KA and now has the addition of a temperature gauge. Fitted as standard is a CD/radio plus a USB port for plugging in an MP3 player and the cigarette lighter port is still there too for mobile phone charging.
Some of the twiddly features are quite innovative too - well I think they are. There is a trip computer which records range, distance covered, average speed and fuel consumption, which is bound to prove useful on my frequent long journeys north (once I've fathomed out how to use it). The other feature which I'm sure will prove invaluable, especially on the motorway, is the maximum speed alert which allows the driver to set the speed so that the car beeps at you and a light flashes to let you know if you exceed the speed limit. The hazard warning lights now come on automatically if braking hard whereas in my previous model it was a case of pushing the button yourself.
The car seats 4 adults, I won't say comfortably because there isn't a huge amount of room in the back, but the front passenger area has a large open foot well which allows the front passenger to move the seat quite a bit further forward and still have plenty of leg room whilst allowing more leg room in the back as well.
It's worth noting, too, that it isn't possible to disengage the airbags so this car isn't suitable for people who have front child safety seats.
The first thing to strike me when I originally took the test drive was the position of the gear stick. This is situated much higher and further forward which took some getting used to. I initially kept reaching to completely the wrong place when I wanted to change gear. However, I've been driving the car for a couple of weeks now and have since got used to it.
I also struggled a bit with reverse, simply because my previous car was a very unsophisticated model. This new KA requires the driver to pull up a little lever underneath the knob to engage reverse.
With my previous car being a 1.3 and the new one having a lower 1.2 cc, I was expecting it to be less responsive than my previous model but not a bit of it. The new model KA hasn't just had its body reshaped but its inner workings have also been refined it seems. I don't understand the why or wherefore but despite its lower cc, this car has more 'oomph' (another technical term) than my previous one. For anyone interested, it does 0-60 in 13 seconds which may not be fast enough for Silverstone but is plenty fast enough for me.
Handling is pretty impressive. The new model has power assisted steering and I can't believe how light it feels to drive and how responsive the car is to the slightest turn of the steering wheel. Manoeuvrability is excellent and although I wouldn't go so far as to say it can turn on a sixpence, the turning circle is pretty tight.
Visibility is good too with excellent all round vision.
The handbook claims that combined mpg (that is town and motorway driving) is 55.4 miles per gallon. I haven't had the car long enough to assess this personally but that would be about the same, or possibly a little better than my previous KA. A bonus with this car, however, is that it has lower CO2 emissions than the old KA resulting in a £30 road fund licence as opposed to my previous £125.
Well, I've already mentioned the blandness of its new styling but the boot is still very small and only has enough room for, say, 4 bags of shopping or a large suitcase. The rear shelf is removable, of course, which does allow for a little extra storage space and the rear seat folds down to allow even more space but this, in effect, turns the car into a two-seater.
In summary, I'm more than happy with my new purchase. It's a nippy little car which is perfect for town driving and yet is sturdy enough to cope with a relatively long motorway journey too (although I've yet to pluck up the courage to do that following my accident). I wouldn't advise anyone around the six feet mark to buy one of these, however, as you may find difficulties in accommodating both leg and head room but for a vertically challenged person such as myself, it's the ideal size.
I'm sure I've probably missed out loads of vital statistics for this car but suffice to say, this is my third Ka and I've found each one a pleasure to own and drive with low running costs and requiring very little maintenance.
The driving experience in the post-09 Ka is definitely an improvement on the earlier models with a quieter engine, smoother ride and added refinements elsewhere but I do feel that these have come at the cost of its individuality. As it stands now, this car would have every right to claim it has substance over style.
Summary: Great cars for economy and reliability