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Technical analysis

14/05/2019
A great little city car

Ford Ka+

 

Small, roomy, versatile and attractive, thanks to a design that pays attention to detail and a double, petrol and diesel engine layout. Perfect for a day trip or the occasional weekend away, the little Ford comes also in a crossover version, the Active.

Duilio Damiani

The + symbolizes the latest evolution of Ford’s city car: more modern, with new diesel and petrol engines, more spacious, thanks to the new layout introduced in 2016, more “intelligent”, thanks to equipment normally found on premium models, such as regenerative brakes.

The captivating design, the family feeling immediately noticeable looking at the front end of the car, the colour combined with the rear-view mirrors and above-average equipment and accessories, already from the entry level versions, decreed an immediate success, as was the case with the older and all too familiar Ka.

 

SMALL SIZE GREAT PLEASURE

Gone the characteristic egg-like shape that identified the first two versions of Ford’s city car dated 1997 and 2008, today's Ka+, re-styled and updated in 2018, offers in less than four metres (3.94 m to be precise) the kind of space one would expect in larger vehicles able to carry comfortably up to five passengers around the city as well as over longer distances.

The sporty silhouette cleverly conceals the car’s real size, being 1.7 metres in width, 1.52 metres in height and a generous 2.49 metre wheelbase that greatly reduces front and rear overhangs, all to the advantage of driving stability and interior space. The front grille follows the recent design found in Ford's latest models and the headlights taper towards the sides, which are connected to the rear section by means of a continuous body side moulding. There is no shortage of lower air-extractor-like fittings which, combined with the alloy wheels (optional depending on the version) enhance the dynamic image of the car, much to the pleasure of the younger clientele. The special crossover-like Active version will likely appeal to SUV fans, thanks to specially designed external details and a higher driving position, not to mention equipment such as the 6.5" touch screen.

Getting in the car has never been easier, thanks to the new five-door configuration and the large vertical tailgate. Once inside, the interior space resembles, and probably even exceeds, the larger Fiesta - just 4 cm shorter but 29 mm higher – thanks to the fact that both share the same Ford B Global Platform. As expected, and in step with the requests of an increasingly demanding market, even as far as “premium” city cars are concerned, the Ka+ comes with attractive interiors, composite and metal inserts, and a remarkable choice of equipment. Ford Ka+ offers standard electrically adjustable windows and mirrors, central locking with remote control, electronic stability control and electronic traction control along with uphill assist control, while six airbags and a speed limiter complete the safety features. Passengers can enjoy air conditioning, audio system with steering wheel controls, AppLink connectivity system with voice commands and, a multitude of storage compartments including MyFord Dock, an on-board recharging port.

The top of the range Ultimate includes elements such as heated driver seats, tinted rear windows, parking sensors and an advanced version of the Dab audio system, if you are into music. 15-inch alloy wheels come as standard on this version, or as optional on others, replacing the still valid steel wheels. Finally, the luggage compartment with 270 litres of standard space (with repair kit, a little less with the optional spare wheel) expandable to 849 litres after folding, even separately, the rear seat.

 

NEW ENGINES FOR A GLOBAL CITY RUNAROUND

Under the bonnet, a small 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine comes in two configurations with either 70 or 85 hp. This is a Duratec unit with variable timing and twin independent camshaft (Ti-VCT), able to optimize the flow of power according to demand very flexible and fuel efficient. Thus, in both configurations, average mileage and harmful emissions are kept at very low levels, with a declared 20 km / litre mileage and CO2 emissions of 114 g / km.

At first the petrol engine was the only option, but as of last year a modern diesel unit expanded the Ka+ range. Alongside the Otto cycle engine, a modern 1.5-litre four-cylinder Turbodiesel was selected, capable of delivering 95 hp through direct common rail injection and a fixed-geometry turbine, with a torque of 215 Nm available between the 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, ensuring great verve and a top speed of almost 180 km/h (compared to 170 and 165 km/h for the two petrol configurations), while being still very fuel efficient, with a declared average of over 27 km/litre, and harmful emissions of just 99 g/km.

On the transmission side, there is only one possible option, Ford’s new five-speed manual transmission, particularly effective in managing engine torque thanks to its Teflon-coated internal components, low friction bearings and synchronised reverse gear. Fuel consumption is further optimised by the presence of a regenerative battery recharging system, which uses the alternator as a power supply when braking or going downhill, exploiting the vehicle's kinetic energy to reduce the load on the engine.

The handy steering is electrically assisted making it light and manoeuvrable in sudden changes of direction when moving in urban areas maintaining driving precision at higher speed. Given the small size combined with a GVW of 1,000/1,100 kg, were enough to convince Ford’s designer to adopt a mixed braking system, with front self-ventilating discs and drums at the rear, able to guarantee adequate braking distances, facilitated by the ubiquitous ABS.

In line with the rational approach adopted by Ford engineers, few digressions have been provided as far as wheels are concerned, with optional 15” steel or alloy wheels, depending on the version, equipped with 185/60 or 195/55 tires, although the registration document includes the smaller 175/65 R14, perhaps useful for an undersized seasonal replacement option.

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