Ford's KA+ is a worthy small city runabout but it needed a bit of individuality. It gets it in the form of these Zetec Colour Edition models. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
Ford's KA+ ticks a lot of sensible boxes. It's affordable, very spacious and good to drive. But does it have a degree of visual 'want one' factor? Possibly not. Realising this, Ford's marketing people have come up with the variants we're looking at here, the 'Black Edition' and 'White Edition' derivatives.
Before we get into the Zetec Colour Edition stuff, you may not be fully up to speed to the KA+ proposition, so let's start with that. Unlike first and second generation KA models, the KA+ has five doors. It's not as style-centred as its predecessors either, the focus being instead on sensible practicality.
Other sub-supermini rivals claim to offer this too - and allow their buyers to add a dash of personalisation with things like special colour schemes and striping packs. Ford hasn't done that with the KA+ but it has made available these eye-catching 'Black and White' Edition variants at the top of the range for urban dwellers who might want to stand out a bit.
The KA+ shares its 'Global B Platform' with the old 7th generation Fiesta, so its ride and handling are among the very best in the citycar class. It helps that Ford has retuned the suspension's springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars and bushes to suit European tastes. There's also a stiffer front cross-member and steering that has been set up to suit European tastes. The result is a car that smooths its way over every sort of undulation and pothole yet resists body lean in corners. It also grips keenly to rekindle the fun driving manners of the very first Ka and steers with a precision none of its rivals can match. Yet none of this comes at the expense of refinement as there's plenty of noise insulation to keep wind, road and engine sounds at bay.
Under the bonnet lies a 1.2-litre 'Ti-VCT' petrol engine coupled to a slick-shifting five-speed manual gearbox. The motor is offered with two power options - 70 & 85PS units: you'll need the pokier variant if you want the 'Zetec Colour Edition' spec we're looking at here. It takes 13.3 seconds to get from nought to 62mph and it tops out at 105mph. You need to rev the engine to get the best from it, though this isn't an issue in town, and it remains hushed in any situation.
Design and Build
The first Ka made a virtue of its big plastic bumpers and wheel at each corner style that certainly made it stand out and maximised interior room. This dedication to deliver the most passenger space possible is what the latest third generation in the Ka+ is all about too, although it does so with a more conservative appearance. Or at least it does in base 'Studio' and 'Zetec' guises. With the 'Black' and 'White' 'Colour Edition' models though, this car does more to stand out.
The changes made to this top trim level don't include any interior embellishment, so potential buyers will need to be satisfied with the sensible cabin of standard variants. This is very spacious by class standards and there are nice touches like the voice-activated 'Ford SYNC' infotainment set-up which works via a 4.2-inch screen n top of the dash. Rear seat room is exceptionally spacious by citycar standards and bootspace is impressive too, rated at 270-litres. Space-wise, things aren't quite so good if you push forward the 60:40 split-folding rear bench; the 849-litre space revealed is actually one of the smaller luggage areas in the segment with the seats in this configuration.
Market and Model
The KA+ range is pretty simple; there's just one five-door bodystyle and one 5-speed manual gearbox. There are three trim levels - 'Studio', 'Zetec' and these two flagship 'Zetec Colour Edition' models, both supplied only with the 85PS version of the 1.2-litre engine and priced at just over £11,000. The 'White Edition' offers 'Frozen White bodywork' that's matched with a black contrast roof. Alternatively, the 'Black Edition' variant features 'Tuxedo Black' bodywork with a white contrast roof. Both models also get black mirror caps, rear privacy glass and 15-inch black alloy wheels that have white inserts on the 'Black Edition'.
Plus there are all the usual 'Zetec'-level features. These include air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cruise control. Plus you get two further clever features we'd really want. One is the 'Ford SYNC' connectivity system that comes with a 4.2-inch TFT dashboard screen and more easily enables you to tune your 'phone into the car and use it on the move with voice commands, the process aided by a 'SYNC Applink' feature that allows you to control apps from your handset. The other key 'Zetec'-spec feature is the Ford 'MyKey' system that gives you two ignition keys and allows you to programme them with pre-set personal preferences.
Cost of Ownership
The KA+ model's 1.2-litre petrol engine delivers a combined fuel consumption figure of 56.5mpg and 114g/km of CO2. Drive with some consideration for fuel and you should be able to cover more than 400 miles between stops at filling stations.
Okay, that's what it costs to fill up and run a KA+ on a daily basis, but what about other running expenses? You'll want to know what sort of cover you have should there be a problem and the Ford comes with a 36-month 60,000-mile warranty that also includes one year of Europe-wide breakdown assistance. On top of that, there's an anti-corrosion guarantee for 12 years. Servicing is required every 12,500 miles or once a year depending on use, so someone living in the city who covers fewer miles might find the car needs scheduled halt before that mileage limit has been reached. You should also find insurance is not a burden on your wallet thanks to a group five rating for this 85PS variant.
Ford was not present in the city car class in any meaningful way for a long time, but that has all changed with the Ka+. It's a very strong contender on all fronts.
If anything was lacking from the car at launch, it was just a bit of visual pizzazz, something these 'Zetec Colour Edition' variants certainly offer. With that in place at a reasonable price, you might better be able to enjoy all of this model's other attributes - primarily its impressive interior space and excellent drive dynamics. It might all be enough for your local Ford dealer to see the colour of your money.