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First Drive: Ford KA+

The story:
Ford has given its baby Ka+ range a mid-life refresh, taking the opportunity to add an Active range-topper, complete with raised ride height, roof-rails and body cladding.
Category:City Car
Key rival:Hyundai i10
Ford Ka+ Active 1.2 Ti-VCXT 85hp
Price:£12,730
MPG:49.6mpg
Emissions:129g/km
On sale:Now

Ford is introducing off-road-styled Active versions of three of its passenger cars, with the Fiesta and Ka+ both getting the raised, roof-railed and black-cladding treatment now, and a version of the all-new Focus following early next year.

The idea is to offer customers the best of both worlds – the higher seating position and off-road style of an SUV, with the driving dynamics and better efficiency of a regular hatchback.

While the Fiesta Active is priced at the same level as Titanium and ST-Line trim levels, with the baby Ka+ it’s very much the range-topper, sitting above the entry Studio and biggest-selling Zetec specifications, and expected to take around 30% of Ka+ sales.

As well as another 23mm of ride height, the Ka+ Active gets the aforementioned cladding and roof rails, and unique alloy wheels, as well as some bespoke styling touches such as a black finish to the grille.

There are two engine options, but in reality Ford expect 96% of buyers to opt for the 85hp petrol rather than paying the extra £1620 for the 95hp diesel. Despite being 21g/km and 19.3mpg better, the diesel doesn’t make sense on a small car which won’t have to cover large distances.

And long distances aren’t exactly the Ka+’s forte, because there is bucketloads of road noise invading the cabin, while wind noise also chips in at higher speeds. The engine is also pretty coarse.

In addition to all that, interior quality isn’t great, with plenty of hard plastics.

Ford Ka+ - Gallery Image 6Still, there is a lot of rear room, with such a small car showing impressive ability to carry four adults in decent comfort, while also providing a decent 270 litres of boot space that outpoints the likes of the Hyundai i20, Smart Forfour or VW Up.

The Ka+ Active costs £850 more than the Ka+ Zetec trim level, and the improved looks will counter that for some people. The Active also gets privacy glass, which is a £250 option were buyers to want it on the Zetec, plus the lower trim is also 15g/km better than the Active petrol’s 129g/km.

And while the Ka+ Active drives and handles to Ford’s regular high standards, the noise renders it a car that drivers won’t relish covering long journeys in.

Paul Barker

The verdict

The Active adornments help lift the Ka+’s appearance, while it also has impressive interior space, but the driving experience is dominated by the sheer volume of road noise in particular.