By Andy Bannister
The new model, to be unveiled officially at the Paris Motor Show this autumn, will replace the classic first-generation Ka, introduced way back in 1996 and one of the smallest, boldest and longest-lived Fords ever made.
To be built at Fiat’s factory in Poland, the new Ka is Ford’s entry-level city car and shares many underpinnings with the highly successful retro Fiat 500 which has taken Europe by storm this year. Ford engineers have, however, tweaked the chassis to give the Ka a unique feel which bodes well for the little car’s on-road performance.
The new models continues Ford Europe’s current ‘Kinetic design’ tag. In other words, it shares family traits with the European Focus, the Mondeo, and the soon-to-be-introduced new Fiesta.
The look successfully distances the new Ka from the curvy, retro-look Fiat, but loses the opportunity to demonstrably evolve the current Ka’s love-it-or-hate-it appearance in favour of a rather blander-looking model overall.
Ford risks falling into the trap of arch-rival Renault, which recently replaced its equally long-live baby car, the Twingo, with a rather ordinary new model lacking most of the charm of the original.
The old Ka had a delightfully minimalist cabin, but the new model is plusher and according to Ford is set to be one of the Ka’s key attractions. To save space the new car gets a dashboard-mounted gear lever.
Bold design and expressive colours to the cabin are what Ford intends to offer to the young and predominantly female consumers whom the Ka is expected to appeal to most of all.
Engines will, of course, be small. Full details are yet to be released but they are likely to comprise a 69bhp, 1.2-litre petrol engine along with the more powerful 99bhp 1.4-litre from the Fiat 500, with probably the Italian car’s 1.3-litre Multijet diesel as well.
The current Ka is built in Spain, once a low-cost area of Europe, but now eclipsed by more competitive markets to the east. Consequently, the latest Ka will be the first ever modern Ford built in Poland.
Sharing a production line and platform helps Ford and Fiat cut manufacturing costs and makes these small cars more profitable, especially as the Ford is likely to be cheaper than the Fiat, as it needs to undercut its larger Fiesta sibling to have a decent chance of success.
Ultimately, the Ka could also make it to the Americas, albeit the south is far more likely than the north. The first-generation Ka is already a big success in Brazil.
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