Twelve years ago Ford launched the KA, one of the more iconic cars of its time. I hated it, I found its wallowing handling tiresome, its 'curvy' frame as appealing as Colleen Rooney's, as well about as entertaining and engaging as the god awful drivel produced by the aforementioned WAG in the name of reality TV. However its worth pointing out that this point that I appear to be with only one with a dislike of Ford's baby model, some 1.4 million of them sold to Europe and half of million of them to UK buyers.
So a decade has pasted and Ford have been very busy in the past couple of years, updating its entire range with totally new, improved and more desirable motors. S-Max came first, followed by C-Max, then one day Mondeo went to the movies and came back a totally different car with massive improvements. Then this year it's been the turn of Fiesta, with the gorgeous new model about to hit the streets, and buyers appearing not to be able to place orders quick enough. Just when you thought that Ford had run out of steam and cash, along comes the Paris Motor Show and hey presto, NEW KA. Well I said when I saw the car at Paris that I loved the new styling; it's far more chic, looking fun and funky, whilst at the same time appearing to be a far more up market and solid than the model it replaces.
Well as I sit here on Ford's plane, flying back from launch of the all-new KA, I have to report that having spent the last 2 days driving both the 1.2L Petrol and, for the first time ever in the KA range, the 1.3L Diesel versions of the new car…. It's a total winner!
Comparing this new KA with the outgoing model would be akin to comparing Danny Dyers to Danny Minogue. The new KA is an absolute triumph, fun to drive with great handling, great to look at thanks to its new killer styling, fantastically well equipped for its sub-10k pricing and so appealing especially in any of the new 'individual' models 'Graphic Art' (ok if you love black and day glow green) 'Grand Prix' (ultra cool racing stripes, white wheels and sporty interior) and finally my favourite 'Tattoo' which adds body and seat graphics, seriously evil interior and some great extra kit).
So handling wise it's stiffer than ever before, which means little to no body roll in tight corners, a softer suspension gives a much improved ride quality. Generally I found it to be a nippy fun little run-around that you can actually throw down country lanes and into corners and really enjoy driving. The new KA is for the first time ever now available as a diesel, although Ford think that only 8% of sales will be in diesel guise, which I think will be a crying shame, the 1.3L diesel is without doubt the better of the two engine choices. Don't get me wrong I like the 1.2L petrol, but I did find it somewhat gutless up hills and lacking in power the faster you go. In fact to get any real performance out of the petrol you do really need to rag the hell out the engine to get it moving quickly.
The interior is another place where Ford have really excelled with the new KA, the dashboard, centre console and centre console mounted gear stick really improve space in the front, equipment levels have gone through the roof, most models coming as standard with electric windows, A/C, electric mirrors, CD player, MP3 USB connection ports and a much much higher quality of materials and fabrics used to really give the KA an upmarket classy and expensive feel.
How much will this wonderment cost I hear you all cry? Well the range starts with the modestly equipped Studio model for £7,995 OTR, with the Style and Style + models coming in respectively at £8,450 OTR and £8,895 OTR, the range topping Zetec costs £9,450 OTR and you can add £300 extra if you want to add one of the new 'individual' model range interiors and an extra £500 for the exterior. With order books opening in Jan 09 if you're wanting one of the first get yourself down to a dealer and order early!
Overall I love it, its without a shadow of doubt in my mind the best in its sub b sector class, it looks great, drives well, performs more than good enough for most, its keenly priced and its got a fun factor about it that you just cant help but love!