Product Type: Ford cars
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If money is tight, give this one a look
Ford Ka in general
Member Name: ScottishWestie
Ford Ka in general
Advantages: Low running costs, looks cool, easy to park, easy to sell on
Disadvantages: Small boot, feels cheap, basic
As a spotty faced teenager I wanted a car, saved up £100 & bought an old & battered Ford Zodiac with a 3000cc V6 engine. As I was an apprentice mechanic running costs & maintenance were the least of my problems but insurance was.
At 18 years old to an insurance company I was a risk & the premiums they quoted were far higher than the value of my pride & joy. I had to use my father's insurance company to help out stating that I was the second driver, a ploy that is no longer tolerated in insurance circles. It helped me out until I was able to cover motor insurance myself & once I turned 25 years old it became less of a problem.
Today however, car insurance for young people is a real nightmare running well into four figures even for a basic set of wheels. The trick is to get a Group 1 insurance rated car although they are sometimes difficult to find. Young people want 'cool' looking cars & this is where the Ford Ka comes in.
Released in 1996 it was a brave step by Ford to produce a car like this & make money out of it, the Ka took the motoring world by storm & it has been a big seller ever since.
It looks cool despite its basic construction & instantly appealed to young people; it's smaller than a Fiesta & can only hold four people. To keep the costs down Ford raided its parts bin & utilised many Fiesta parts at the time such as the engine, gearbox, steering & brakes.
The interior was quite funky looking a bit like the exterior but best of all the Ford Ka proved to be cheap to run, simple to fix & best of all some models were rated group one from the insurance companies. It gave young people the chance to run a decent looking car for a modest outlay.
The Ka features a lot of plastic, the huge front & rear bumpers are either plain plastic bumpers or body coloured examples depending on which model you go for. The general finish outside is quite good although it lacks the solid feel of many German cars. Step inside & despite it small size the interior is quite generous. Admittedly with the front seats right back leg room in the back is poor unless you carry small children. There are only four seat belts, so carrying three passengers in the rear is not legally possible.
Up front space is generous & although the front seats only recline & slide forward & back getting a decent driving position is quite easy. The dash has an unusual shape but features all the basic needs, the instruments include only a speedo & a fuel gauge, warning lamps cover all other functions.
On the model I drove, it featured a decent radio CD, electrical release for the tailgate, remote entry, alloy wheels & air conditioning. Some Ka models have no alloys, air con, power steering or remote control release.
To cut costs Ford hasn't fitted a centre console but has quite cleverly used the carpet for storing odds & ends. The carpet is moulded front & back to hold cups, pens & a trinket box up front.
The boot is small but at least the rear seats fold down 50/50 to increase space when required. Ford has taken its cost cutting to the extremes by only fitting one cord on the tiny rear parcel shelf.
The plastics used inside look & feel cheap but at this price & with the aim of keeping costs down Ford can be excused.
DRIVING THE FORD KA
Early models featured the Fiesta pushrod engine which was noisy & unrefined. Later models featured a more sophisticated engine which is more refined, it's still not that quiet when you start it up but I would imagine to keep noise levels down sound deadening is sparse.
The gear change is pleasant enough but the gear knob & stick cover is one piece of moulded plastic & looks & feels awful. As you drive off you can't help but notice how brisk performance is, this is a car that quite easily keeps up with the flow of traffic in all conditions. This Ka had no power steering but it felt that it didn't need it in the first place as the steering feels good, light & very direct.
The brakes which are solid discs up front with drums at the rear feel good at all speeds. Where the Ka really shines is it's handling, it always feels safe & predictable on country roads & becomes a real blast to drive after a while. Despite its short wheelbase the ride is quite comfortable.
There are no fancy electrical gadgets on the Ka like so instant fuel consumption figures & outside temperature readings are not available.
Would I recommend one? Yes I would for town driving it takes a lot of beating, its easy to park, easy to drive & gentle on the wallet or purse. Its low insurance costs & cool looks make it a favourite with young people & it holds it value quite well. Just don't expect too much for your money.
Summary: A worthy contender for people short of cash
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