Product Type: Ford cars
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KAYE AYE MATE!
Ford Ka in general
Member Name: macutmore
Ford Ka in general
Date: 30/09/01, updated on 09/11/03 (21374 review reads)
Advantages: Small, easy to park., economical, inexpensive to buy., distinctive styling, easy maintenance, FUN!
Disadvantages: No rev. counter (except new models), No boot light (except luxury Ka), Well proven but ageing power plant (except new models)
Well the Ka is at least two of those things isn't it? Actually way back in October 1996 when the Ka first arrived on the scene, I got the perception, then, that not everyone admired its radical looks. I had an open mind at the time, but many of my friends commented on its distasteful design (way back then).
The Ka certainly was a radical concept for ford. The idea for its bold styling was actually conceived from the curves on an Evian water bottle (believe it or not)!
Little did we know at the time, that the 'new edge' styling would influence the design of the focus and many other newer ford cars. It took a while but it would seem, many of the 'curves' caught on in the end! Even the new fiesta (same name but a different car) remotely takes influence from the original cutting edge styling.
The Ka is now distinguished since it has caught on with reasonable popularity, but it certainly was at the time, one of the most daring cars around. Maybe it was ahead of its time then? It is certainly a chic supermini and was in fact, the first truly innovative ford to come for years.
There's the Ka, the Ka2, the Ka3 and wait for it, the Ka collection! But just what is the difference between all these? Ford's usual tactic is to put the same name on a totally different vehicle. Why has the Ka kept its distinctive shape? Will it ever change?
Well the bumpers have become colour coordinated with the body colour. It is not possible to buy a new Ka now with black bumpers (except for the base model). Since I wanted a new Ka I wasn't sure about this. But I didn't want the base model (although it's reasonably well equipped); I might have wanted black bumpers?
Actually there are many black Ka's on the road, naturally with the original black b
umpers. Is the reason for choosing the black paint to obtain some sort of colour coordination here? It would seem that many perhaps don't like the bold black bumpers on other body colours. Maybe ford cottoned on to this perhaps? As it happens I quite like them. Black cars though, tend to absorb the sun (heat), and you would be more likely to be cooked on a hot sunny day if you were to go for one without air conditioning.
There have been Citrus, Copper and Gold colour Ka's but these particular colours are now not available new. Certain colours are also not possible on certain models in the range. Metallic paints are extra on base models. On the luxury KA metallic is standard but there is only a choice of red, green, blue or black!
A closer glance at the plastic bumpers reveals that they appear to be not painted plastic but actually the real natural colour of the actual plastic. This means no stone chips I guess. Actually the plastic bumpers form the majority of the wheel arches, where in fact most grime and mud would be thrown in daily use. This of course means that what isn't metal shouldn't actually rust, right? The metal looking front grill is even extremely lightweight plastic as well. Well I'll be!
Well for what it's worth you do get the usual six-year anti corrosion warranty on a new Ka. It's interesting to note that other ford cars, (the ford focus for one) seem to get even better anti-corrosion considerations at the factory than this though. Ford boast about these in their recent advertisement campaign. Anyone seen a rusty Ka? I have heard of a few.
It turns out that the Ka is a really comfortable car to drive. Quality trim is standard across the range and the seating seems very supportive and firm. A driver's height adjustable seat (not on base model) adds to this. All seats have head restraints and leather trim is even standard on the luxury Ka. If you don't like leather seats
you can put up with a leather steering wheel and even a leather gear Knob. If you're turning vegetarian you'll have to put up with the base model, I'm afraid, since you won't get leather on that one!
The base model Ka starts at £6960 (don't forget new car prices surely have to drop in the U.K), and apart from a few other cosmetic details (decals and the like) all it really lacks is electric windows, body colour bumpers, metallic paint, central locking and the better radio cassette. All the other models have these as standard equipment anyway.
The dash console harbours a completely custom fitted, fully integrated Radio affair. This is almost unique to the Ka. You have to choose though, at the moment whether you want a CD player arrangement, or a Cassette deck with a CD changer compatible head (then the changer fits in the boot if you fit it). Options are expensive, but since I have audiocassettes as well, I went for the latter since I can easily play both with a portable adaptor anyway. Except for the base model. The radios are high performance RDS EON equipped and fully functional with all the state of the art features. Sound quality is superb through the large integrated door speakers. Ford is at last, it would seem, fitting reasonable quality speakers to their cars, which make all the difference to sound quality. Output capability is reasonable too. If like me you love some music loud occasionally, you'll be well catered for here. It is even possible to fit any radio unit you darn well please. A custom radio accessory panel is available as an after market option.
The prominent highly visible radios have security conscious features naturally. Not just internal codes. Coded removable panels for your pocket or handbag as well, and also a lockable registration number input facility as well. Not only that, a highly visible flashing led pulses to indicate that the radio is no good to man o
r beast bu
t only it's owner! You also get another flashing led on the adjuster stalk of the quartz clock. This is related to the ignition immobiliser. Even with a copied or cut ignition key you still can't start the vehicle. The integrated circuit in the key has to be programmed to the ignition lock.
All Ka's (circa June 1997 manufacture on) have power steering, and this gives a responsive feel to the handling and great controllability, reducing any effort that is required in the cars already nimble parking capability. So if you're considering buying second hand, watch out for this. The very first cars had PAS only as an option. It was the Ka2 that had it as standard, but now of course all new Ka's have it anyway.
In many expert reports the car has been praised for an excellent ride with precise handling. I can confirm that this is, indeed the case. Owing to a wide wheel base the car takes corners as if it is literally on rails. Driven in the wet, a perceptible safe feel protrudes.
In terms of safety, new levels of standard have been commandeered with the recent design. Safety cage and side impact protection beams and drivers airbag are naturally standard on all models. Ford love their 'option packs' though. You've got to pay top-dollar for air bags all round, and anti-lock brakes.
Air conditioning, I understand is a give away at the moment. More and more manufacturers are featuring this as standard equipment nowadays. Ford has just had to throw this in to compete. Once you've had things like power steering and ac you'll never go back.
The Ka is marketed by Ford to appeal to 'original thinkers' with the claim that it has been created with original thinking. Whether this means that the car is just that little bit different is anybody's guess but it certainly looks it. It seems to appeal to people that may have never particularly raged over ford cars before. It is
also very popul
Many place the image akin to that of a VW Beetle or 'bubble car'. I think it does grow on you after a while. It's interior is bubbly and chic with trendy but practical contoured 'bubble' air vents, a rounded dash, white instrument dials (a Speedometer and fuel gauge) and a stunning centre piece bubble clock. (Just wait till you see this in the dark!). But you don't get overly sophisticated instrumentation. No rev counter, No temperature gauge. Actually, this keeps the clutter down giving a feel that there is less to worry about except how fast you're going and how much juice you have left. The 'need to know' is a great philosophy basis!
The horn is near the good old day position, virtually in the centre of the steering wheel. You have to literally press the drivers air bag to operate it, (impossible to get used to). Instrument readability is great though, but why on earth is the Speedo calibrated to over 140mph? Could this really be a sports car? Hang on a minute, book top speed is 96mph. This means that realistically this cute little baby is probably capable of over 100mph! Now that is amazing!
The old 1.3 petrol injected engine pulls the low weight like ***t off a hot tin shovel! Getting it there is a bit of a thrash though from rest, but the torque aspect is great. In the high gears it's even hard to labour the engine as the speed drops below 20mph. All this means that the engine is ideally suited to a normal 50-70mph cruise. Certainly not just a city wagon, then, even long journeys are totally practical and 40 plus miles per gallon is not unrealistic. I have discovered that it's even possible to almost fill the tank with a twenty-pound note and for that you could be talking about 350 miles!
The guts for this come from the 1.3 HCS Efi 60bhp 'Endura' engine. This is an updated fiesta type unit that is reliable and extremely well proven. O
k so it's not a
unit or a 16 valve one but it just about fits in the engine bay. Having said that the drive belts are externally visual and only require replacement every 5 years or 70,000 miles. The spark plugs are easily accessible and could be changed in minutes if you're thinking about DIY. Well worthwhile with a second hand buy perhaps. A 10,000-mile oil change seems a pretty standard interval with most motors nowadays.
The road ride is smooth, reasonably quiet (more tyre or road noise than anything), albeit slightly firm. There are no perceptible rattles, vibrations, shakes or resonance from anywhere. Gear change is smooth and light. This is fun!
On the interior front, cup holders are moulded into the carpet wells and ingenious storage solutions include moulded channels in the floor and round cup holders in the door stowage pockets. Remember the days of the old 'glove box'. Now it's a 'tombola' with a sprung rotating lid! As it happens my sunglasses, water bottle, mobile phone and chargers, Discman cd player, umbrella and Krooklock fit perfectly in all these ready to hand areas as if they were designed for them! I even heard a rumour that if you have a passenger airbag you get another storage area (now where could that be)?
This is a small car that feels like a big one when it is driven (until you try to park it). The high driving position is one reason for this. Reasonable refinement exists. Room for four is not out of the question. Sitting in the front, the curvy interior design gives a spacious feeling and a perception that the car is bigger than it is. Words like 'Tardis' spring to mind!
Unless you're a six-footer, when you actually sit in the rear you may be surprised at the incredibly well spaced out dimensions of this little baby. But a little baby is what it is. If you want a 'people carrier' you'll have to buy one I'm afraid. No problem with four
souls on board but you ca
n forget your fishing rods as well (lengthwise).
The folding split rear seat arrangement (pretty much universal on the hatchb
acks of today) turns the luggage compartment space from room for a weekly shop for two into room for a mini vanload! (You'll have to leave your fishing rod and sofa behind though). Hang on a minute, what's this no boot light! You don't get one (except on the luxury model). This is cost cutting beyond belief.
I took delivery of a moondust silver sun collection Ka in time for the new registration format. The car has a factory fitted fully retractable electrically operated cloth sunroof. I got it on over a two-month order. The free air conditioning has to be factory fitted from day one (at the factory). It can't be added later on by the dealer, and neither can any sunroof.
One serious thing worth a mention here is the customer service offered by ford. In my case it has been outstanding. Having just filled in a return questionnaire survey (even this can be done on-line), I can honestly say that ford strive for excellence without question. Prices of new cars are slowly dropping in 'rip off Britain'. Interest rates are down. Deals are high. Whatever your level of affordability it would seem that ford want you to help yourself to what's on offer. My dealer charged no more than 3 ½ % over the price ford actually invoiced them for the new car! One year's fully comprehensive insurance is included, as is RAC breakdown cover. Then there's a three-year warranty. Ok so cars are cheaper elsewhere in Europe, but they don't get the whole package!
The last Ford car to be built in Britain was of course, the old fiesta. Ka's though and I presume other fords, are actually built in Spain.
In terms of problems, I have only seen evidence that some reports of leaky door and windscreen seals exist on the Ka. Time will tell.
The future of
the Ka looks great and the Ka
roadster (convertible) is now here. This is the 'Street Ka'. Having seen one I can say that it sure looks a funky piece of kit!
In Britain we now have the Ka owners club, which seems to be growing rapidly. It's great that at last a deviation has been made from the common 'all cars look the same' mass production phenomenon. It's stylish, chic, funky, practical and inexpensive. The Ka is here to stay!
I've since covered over 12,000 miles in my Ka since I first wrote this opinion. As part of an update, I can confirm that no problems have occurred so far. I'm glad I went for the steel wheels (which have plastic covers)- these are easily replaced or restorable if scuffed on Kerb edges (a very common occurance on Ka wheels due to thier relatively low profile).
When I get round to it, I'll definately go for front mud flaps, since a fair throw back occurs to under the visible front sill sections. Generally the Ka is easy to keep clean though. Build quality is good too. Very sturdy!
As an update, today I have been into my local Ford dealer to book my 20,000 mile second service (which comes in list at around £110). No problems to date. Whilst in the showroom I specifically took a good look at the absolutely stunning street Ka, and I was very pleased with its curves. It should be noted that the collection Ka upwards now has a rev counter and a digital odometer, a much larger fuel gauge (which returns to zero when the ignition is off), and that even the base model is now supplied new with a 1.3i SOHC (Catalyst) 70 PS Duratec 8V engine!
Yes I DO want another!
Anyway, time has pressed on now, and sure as fate, Fords competitors have done the homework too! Time did come to eventually sell (or trade in my Ka), but I didn't actually replace it with another. Instead of getting a Street Ka (with only two seats), I went for the more practical Citreon C3 plu
riel, a somewhat different kettle of fish altogether, but I am still as happy as a sand boy! Equipment levels on Fords are OK (if you can pay for the option packs), but the Street Ka does have a somewhat dated interior, although its very large boot space does seem a good feature.
Time has also shown certain mechanical issues on the older Ka's, nothing major, but it seems that if brake pads are not replaced every 20,000 miles or so, you can kiss goodbye to your expensive discs as well! So bear this in mind. Also, as spark plugs are rarely replaced, they tend to weld themselves into the sockets, and cannot be removed at all!!
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