I needed a cheap car to maintain and insure. I needed a small car that would not call attention and that could be jammed into any tight spot as I would be parking on the street and be going downtown everyday.
I wanted, if possible, a fun car. One that would be good to sit in and be attractive in my eyes.
Weighing all my options, I came to the rather surprising conclusion that a Ford Ka would be the way to go. It best met the criteria I had set.
Ford doesn’t make cars smaller than the Ka. It’s s European thing. In America, you’d get run over in the thing on the second day.
Based on a shortened version of the 90s Fiesta platform, the Ka is a very direct car. Noise is part of the experience. You hear the tires, the engine intrudes. However, the engine makes noises that instigate.
Andar rápido com o Ka é coisa para quem conhece, não para quem comprou (in English, going fast in a Ka is for those who know how and not for those who simply bought one). Those were the words of Quatro Rodas, Brazil’s premiere car mag. Ever since I read that phrase it has stuck in my mind. And it’s true.
The suspension keeps the car under tight control. Somehow, it manages to do it while not breaking your back. It is comfortable, but not too much so. The Ka has made me rediscover the joys of a sporty ride. Sometimes, I now take the long way home.
The Ka’s wheels are pushed out to its far corners. Tread carefully though. It exhibits limited tolerance for fools. The back wants to overtake the front and it gives very little warning. Other cars warn you and then warn you again and you can still push them more. The Ka just whispers a caution and it’s best to heed it. Make no mistake, due to its short wheelbase, it can get jittery and long curves need constant correction. Good thing that the steering is communicative and quite fast. The Ka is well weighted for city driving, but never too light on the road.
Other positives include the gear action. Though rubbery, there is a definite mechanical feel to it. The car scoots when you get it right. Very satisfying, but unforgiving. The system balks if you do it wrong and the car loses speed fast.
The Ka’s Zetec Rocam 1.0 engine corrals a paltry 65 ponies. Lightweight, an still slow off the line. Once it’s going, it’s easy to keep it going. If you know what you’re doing. It’s quite economical if you keep your right foot under control, as hard as this may be. By it’s very nature, this is a car that wants to go fast.
In spite all of this, they still call it a girl’s car. Drive it like a girl and you’ll be missing the point. Most Ka owners will never know what that small car is capable of. It has a technically demanding nature, and only people who never drove one would call it a girl’s car.
Laugh all you want, I don’t care. Penned by Frenchman Claude Lobo, the Ka is unquestionably an automotive piece of art. I think it’s bold and refreshing. You call it girlie. Regardless of what the sheeple say, the Ka is a modern classic.
I confess that when it first came out, in 1997, I didn’t understand it either. Then, one day, I saw one parked next to a Fusca (Beetle to you Americans). It dawned on me. This car was a modern take on that idea. I understood the beauty of its lines, its non-conformist ideal.
Soon, I had the opportunity to drive one. The most striking first impression for me was how modern and good the car was inside. Circular and oval shapes abound. The center console cascades off to the side in an intriguing fashion. Even the gauge cluster cover has a different shape, though the gauges themselves are quite traditional and lacking in their sparsity. The exposed metal on the doors does not bother me, the non-existent glove box is always a point of contention. The seating position is very good. Seats, pedals and wheel are almost perfectly aligned. The big doors make entry easy, at least for those in the front. Head and shoulder room satisfies.
At the first ride, I sensed there was more to this car than what was readily apparent. I began to want one. I followed comments and reviews. I test drove it on several occasions. It never failed to delight me.
15 years later, here I am, changing almost everything in my life completely. Yes, I got into a Ka because of economic distress, and I got into an eight year old one to boot. I’m glad I did though. This blast from the past is part of my ticket to the future.