City slicker Ka is top of the class

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We’ve come to expect certain things from Ford products and the Ka TDCi lives up to expectations without exceeding them in the way that the original car managed to.

Polished driving dynamics, great interior quality and reasonable practicality for a citycar all place the Ka at the top of its class.

The diesel engine is also impressive with decent pulling power and excellent economy but the cost means most buyers will choose petrol.

The big question is whether the Ka delivers the style and desirability that citycar buyers crave.

The Ka’s diesel engine is a 1.3-litre common-rail unit that’s been purloined from Fiat along with the Ka’s chassis.

The same underpinnings can be found in the Fiat 500 and Panda models, while the engine pops up repeatedly in Fiat products as well as in a number of cars from Ford’s arch rival, Vauxhall.

It’s an impressive unit with a power output of 74bhp and a very linear power delivery that irons out any trace of turbo lag.

It’s perfectly possible to see how the diesel option could be preferred over the Ka’s 1.2-litre petrol alternative.

It’s got extra muscle in the shape of 145Nm of torque that’s produced from 1,500rpm which makes for a relaxed drive with decent in-gear acceleration.

The diesel is noisier than the petrol but not too noisy if you forgo the upper reaches of the rev range.

The petrol offers sharper responses to throttle inputs, however, and is more in tune with the nippy, vital feel that many buyers expect from a citycar.

Out on the road the Ka forces you to remind yourself that it’s a city car. It feels altogether more grown-up than most of the alternatives in this sector and the diesel engine only adds to that impression.

The chassis and suspension may be borrowed from Fiat but Ford undertook a programme of revisions designed to instil the sharp handling that the Blue Oval has come to stand for.

By citycar standards, ride quality is first rate and so is refinement, although wind noise is noticeable at higher speeds.

Along with the rest of the modern Ford range, it employs the Kinetic design themes including the trademark swept back headlamps and the trapezoidal front air-intake.

There are elements carried over from the MK1 Ka around the rear end but from most angles, the effect is of a stunted Fiesta.

Inside, The Ka sets the standard for build quality in citycars. The materials and switchgear are those of a far more expensive product.

It’s pricing (£11,295-£11,795 – on the road), particularly in the diesel form we examine here, also places it in close proximity to the Fiesta which offers much the same looks with greater practicality and competence on the road.

Style is a tough thing to define but this Ka might well have less of it than some of its contemporaries and that raises questions about whether being the best will be good enough.