By on December 26, 2012

Continued from Parte Um:

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.

What’s that I hear you say? The design? Too cute?

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.

Happiness is a decision. A very personal and sometimes painful one. My shiny, red Ford Ka is part of my decision to be happy.

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44 Comments on “A Man. A Child. A Car, Parte Dois: Cheap, fun and beautiful...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I think it’s very cute. And the bright red color is perfectly suited for it too. Too bad it’s not sold here in Indonesia. I wonder why, I think it would be a perfect candidate for the new “Low Cost Car” category here.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey MrWhopee!

      One reason could be that it’s on its way out. This platform is being substituted by a new one. Look for the Ford concept car Star. That would be the Ka’s replacement. Looks very good and I for one hope Ford doesn’t let it get stale.

      A question: Do Indonesians do subcompacts? I mean the best seller there is the Avenza right? Much bigger than a Ka or Star. Remember, the car is smaller than the new Fiesta.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Hi Marcelo!

        Yes, Indonesian typically likes vehicles that can carry a lot, hence the Avanza. But there are a new government regulation for “Low Cost Car” which promises lower taxes and special treatment for certain kind of cars, which had to be environmentally friendly and small, cheap and locally made, with prices less than Rp. 100 million (about $10,000) called LCGC. Toyota and Daihatsu actually created new cars just for this segment, called Toyota Agya and Daihatsu Aygo. Suzuki I believe will put forth Maruti Alto from India. Honda also planned something for this category. Nissan has nothing planned yet, the new Datsun will probably be perfect for this category. So far these are the only automakers participating. Since the Ka is about to be updated, I think it’ll be good for this category. Hell, they can bring the stampings, etc. from the Brazilian plant once it’s discontinued there!

      • 0 avatar

        Hi MrWhopee!

        Environmentally-friendly I get. Cheap and locally made, I get. Now, what I don’t understand is why governments like to mandate the size of cars (like you present case and kei cars in Japan) or engine-size (like Brazil, France or Italy). The maker that could do a car that satisfies all of that, I don’t really understand why govs don’t let the marketplace decide what goes. This BTW is the reason for success of Dacia-Renault-maybe-Datsun. Cheap yet bigger than competition.

        When you mandate car-size you get yourself into difficult situations like kei cars that only exist in Japan, or 1.0 Brazilian cars that can’t get exported ’cause no one else will take them, or even trouble for makers like the Freanch and Fiat who part of the reason can’t compete in bigger cars with Germans is that gov reguolations made it expensive for them to develp engines bigger than 2.0 4-cylinders.

        As to miving machinery to Indonesia, maye it’d be a way for Ford to gain a foothold there. From your posts I gather that Toyota has a stranglehold on the market and GM is the only one facing them. French and Fiat were big on the past, but not anymore.

  • avatar
    Slab

    My only exposure to the Ka in the US is the Sport Ka commercials on YouTube. They’re funny and macabre.

  • avatar

    @slab

    Haha! I remember those. Very good. I wish my Ka did that.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    The lines and curves used on that generation of Ka are ideal, especially when compared to later iterations of Ford’s city car. Any cuteness naturally flows from the design; it’s clearly not something which was intended from the outset. The panels and their join lines also have an encouraging look to them, as if saying “just pop this one out if you need to replace it.”

    That’s a marvelously uncluttered engine bay when compared to today’s automobiles, which have turned to covering up their functional bits as if it were a shame to display them.

    And is that the hood latch integrated into the intake manifold structure?

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    My mother used to have a black one just like yours (probably some 8 years ago…). I remember enjoying driving it too. And when the 1.6 came out I had wet dreams about it. Excellent choice for the tight budget and the small family (that back seat is a joke!).
    Myself, I had a Fiesta 1.4 (with the Spanish 16V Zetec engine). Great dynamics too. By the way, your description of how it drives, reminds me a lot of my old Fiesta – not surprising given the similar platform?

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly right Autobraz. I remember driving my ex mother-in-law’s imported Fiesta. Red. After the trip, I that up to that moment knew nothing of the car and didn’t pay much attention because I thought it ugly and expensive, grabbed the manual to read it since I was so impressed by the excellent dynamics and power it had displayed. Boy was I surprised when I saw the engine was a paltry 1.3. I thought that it was at least a 1.6! Anyways, the Fiesta was great and probably abit more refined than the Ka. The Ka I believe is even more direct.

      One of the reasons that the Ka spiked my interest was learning that it was a kind of Fiesta underneath. Remembering that road trip, I always kept an eye out for a Fiesta or Ka. But never bit the bullet.

      I too wanted a 1.6. But you know how punitive insurance rates are for our compacts with 1.6s. So sad. that plus the fact that it’d mostly do city driving (the Logan is there for trips – cause of back seat and trunk).

      Now Autobraz, you are a surpsing man. I seem to remember you talking about developing the Meriva. I also remember you praising me for my Escort XR3, and now you have wet dreams on a Ka, plus had a Fiesta? Your mother had a Fiesta? I think, much like our frequent TTAC commentator friend Mikey, though a GMer you were both closet Ford guys! Must of been tough! Kind of like the regional Ford sales director in Brasilia many years ago. He confessed to me that though he worked at Ford he loved GM. He even had an old but pristine Opala under tarps in his garage!

      You guys are crazy. And you rock!

      • 0 avatar
        Autobraz

        Had a Kadett before and two Astras after that Fiesta – it was a statistical fluke – but what a nice one! My family had several Monzas, Chevettes, Ipanemas, Corsas, even a Celta. It was back in GM’s heyday.
        Nowadays, the extended family owns all kinds of brands except GM. This week though, my father mentioned the Onix in a positive tone. Winds of change?

      • 0 avatar

        Hahaha!

        Great cars! I think a lot of GM families are hankering to get back in the fold. Sincerely, I think GM is giving them plenty of reason. Aside Agile, Celta, Classic and Montana and maybe S10, all GM cars are at least class competitive.

        The Onix is looking like the best cost-benefit, fun to drive car in the segment now. Recently drove the HB20 (read about it here soon) and what a fail!

        The Cobalt family though fugly is quiet and competent though thirsty. Drive very well though not at all sporty. It figures as they are Sonics underneath. This new platform is turning into a winner.

        In the mid-hatch category, I’d be torn between a Focus and a Cruze.

        In the sedan, I’d take the cruze.

        I for one who never liked GM would give them careful thought if I were buying brand new today. That totally surprises me

  • avatar
    Mark_Miata

    I’ve always enjoyed the look of the Ka. I’ve been spending extended periods of time in Denmark since the early 1990s, and I remember when these were first on the road. They seemed like a very stylish contrast to the angularity of most small cars on sale in Europe like the VW Polo.

    I’ve never had a chance to drive a Ka, though I’ve wanted to own one – the nature of Danish tax and insurance law made it more sensible to lease a new car rather than buy a used one during my longer stays in the country, and the leasing company never had a Ka for me. I’m glad to know I would have enjoyed one if I had got my hands on one.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh I think you would! Due to your nick, it’s evident you are a discerning man who doesn’t fear what other people think. Though I’ve driven a Miata just once, I would venture to say that they are similar in nature. Drivers’ cars for sure. That the insecure haters like to try to put down as girls car (BTW I don’t take that as an insult since it’s just so ridiculous). If I had had the chance to own a Miata I would’ve enjoyed it immensely I’m sure. 90s vintage. In red. Beautiful cars to behold. And more importantly, probably even better to drive, own and enjoy.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        In the good ol’ USA, a car like the Ka would be attractive to lower-wage office workers, (which here, traditionally tend to be young women) who want the reliability of a new car with an affordable payment.
        If that holds true in the ROW, then you have your answer as to why it’s considered a “girl’s car”.
        But, since most “city” driving here includes at least *some* interstate (accelerate to 60mph from short on-ramps), and people (esp women) prefer an autobox, 1000cc cars just make commutes a bit too anxiety-inducing for most.

      • 0 avatar

        @ shaker

        Ummm, so I guess why Ford priced it pretty high. To avoid young female car buyers! (tongue in cheek)

        I had never heard that explanation before. Maybe there something to it. Sounds like a good one anyway, thanks.

        1.os are a way of life here. City, highway. Of course its not ideal in either situation, but in the hands of a good driver, it almost works. Problem is most are definitely not that good.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    Marcelo
    Great writing and I wish you and your family all the best in 2013. My life has had ups and downs but I have always made the sacrifice for my two children and it gives me pride and pleasure seeing them grow in fine young adults.
    I have a somewhat similar story to your used Ka story. It was 1986 I had a high paying first job out of college. The problem was I hated that job, I bought a brand new black Jeep CJ7 that I loved but I was still not happy.

    Long story short I sold the Jeep bought a friends grandma’s 1969 Chevy Impala for $200. It was a great car and while I did not drive too many miles it never failed me and no worries about parking on the mean streets. I went back to school and got my Masters in Geography, everyone said I was crazy but I got my degree and have had great jobs since and still enjoy going to work everyday.

    Find your dream and work hard to achieve it, with a little luck and good timing it will come true.

    • 0 avatar

      Great story and thanks for the encouragement.

      Doing stuff like that (your Jeep, many of my foibles) is pointless. Though it gives you a brief high the dissatisfaction soom comes back because nothing was done to fix the real issue. I’m discovering that now. Or rather, I knew it before, but only now I’m embracing the idea.

      Glad to hear you were anle to find your solution. I’m working on mine.

      Great 2013 for you and all the ones you care for!

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Marcelo

    I’ve gone through a similar process recently selling my dream vehicle and buying something practical and much less expensive. The money saved has kept me from having regrets so far. Life has it’s ups and downs and with a few other financial changes I’m hoping that 2013 will be a good year for my wife and I and our 4 children.

    Best wishes in your new venture!

  • avatar
    dutch45810

    Does anyone else hate the usage of “Sheeple”? I find it somewhat offensive, and very dismissive of the entire human race.

    “People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle.”

    • 0 avatar

      Hey dutch45810!

      Didn’t mean to offend anyone. By using the word I tried to succinctly get across that due to massive propaganda and lack of thinking, many people have fallen into the habit of hiding behind brands, certain shapes or colors. It’s easier that way. They don’t have to think and they get to put down anybody who cares enough to deviate even a bit from the norm.

      • 0 avatar
        dutch45810

        Marcelo, sorry if I came across a little strong. “Sheeple” has become a pet peeve of mine and you were lucky enough to be in my “internet commenting” crosshairs. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the article. I had the good fortune to rent a Ford Ka for a road trip from Munich to Prague about 10 years ago and was very impressed with the room inside (4 adults, all over 6′ 2″/188cm on a several-hour roadtrip) and how it handled on the Autobahn. It’s a good example of thoughtful and efficient design.
        Also, I love your closing comments. I think too few people make that decision in our modern society.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    When I left the UK and moved to Canada, I had to sell my 2008 1.3 KA to my little sister. It was the most painful experience of moving abroad.
    I loved that car. I’ve always lived outside of cities, preferring small towns and villages in the UK, and it is an absolute hoot to blast around country lanes in a KA. It’s as close an experience to driving a go-cart as you can get in a new cheap car. Sure it’s a bit noisy, and driving long distances can be a bit of a chore, but for day to day driving and back lane mayhem, I couldn’t find anything else which fitted my budget new.
    Incidentally I’ve also previously owned 3 Ford Fiesta’s which are also immense fun for bombing through the countryside at semi-illegal speeds.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    few problems with this car when it landed in western markets… it was way too small, it had poor crash protection and the motor was a Kent variant with emissions from the 60′s…

    • 0 avatar

      So true, nobody understood why Ford did that when the car came out. Don’t know much about its career in Europe, but when the Zetec Rocam engine was fitted into it, those criteria were met.

      Now the Kent (called Endura in Brazil) was easy to keep, would go a million miles and be economic. But you’re right, it didn’t fit with the rest of the car’s modernity.

      As to safety, I guess it passed the necessary minimum in order to be street legal. And 90s cars were very safe even compared to 80s cars.

      As to size, well it made no bones about being small. One size never fits all.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      If you want small, try the original Mini, or the original Fiat Panda. Compared to them, the inside of the KA was positively cavernous. I don’t remember any complaints from the press back in the late 90′s when it was released regarding its size. It was designed to be a small car, and wasn’t any smaller than most of its rivals at the time. Neither was crashworthiness very different to other small cars from the late 90′s.
      As for the ‘Endura E’, god alone knows why Ford Europe decided to keep updating that engine. They already had small Zetec’s in production which they could have squeezed under the bonnet, but no… they stuck with the ancient Kent. I never had any problems with it to be honest – well, apart from the oil change. The filter was on the back of the engine and practically inaccessible. To change it I’d have to stab it with a screwdriver in order to get some leverage on it.

      • 0 avatar
        KrisT

        Nonsense. The Ford Ka had nowhere near as much space as an original Fiat Panda. I should know as I have owned both.

        And id be astonished if the KA could match the original Minis 80% passenger space.

        The Ka was a cracking little car saddled with aging drivetrain technology. I remember that it had an excellent ride/handling compromise though it was far more prone to oversteer than the Fiats I was used to. At 930kgs the Ka was a lot heavier than the Panda at 703kg which necessitated rather clinical power steering.

        Still a tough and reliable little car that was very likeable.

      • 0 avatar

        I have never sat in a Fiat Panda. Or an original Mini. What I do know is that Fiat is master of creating space where there is almst none (the modern 500 is silghtly smaller than the Ka, but I think it has more space in the front, they are also strangely similar in design). The Mini was also created with a view of maximizing internal space.

        Anyway, space is not the Ka’s thing. The Ka had in its sight the Renault Twingo. It seates just 4. It was created to not give up anything in the driving while at the same time providing some degree of “luxury”. It was never aimed at the bare bones market. In this light, it was a percussor of today’s Fiat 500 and Mini.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Really? Whilst at University I used my KA and a friends Panda to move stuff from one house to another. Whilst the Panda could fit more boxy items in it (cos it’s a box right?), for overall ‘jam as much sh*t in the back as will fit’, the KA seemed to come out on top. It wasn’t exactly an objective observation I know… perhaps you are right on that one.
        As for the Mini and 80% passenger space, well woop. 80% is great, but it’s a much smaller car to begin with. Ever done long journeys in the back of a Mini? Or the front for that matter? It is bloody horrible. KA’s are far more comfortable and have far more space (and are designed for people who don’t like sitting with their heads wedged between their knees). The only one of my friends who didn’t mind long trips in his Mini was just over 5 foot 2 inches tall. He could fit, but anyone ‘normal’ sized would get cramp and very very irritated on long hauls.

      • 0 avatar
        KrisT

        Your right of course the Ka is a much more refined small car than probably any of its contemporaries other than maybe a Polo of similar vintage. In part I put it down to what seemed to be its impressive rigidity, it seemed to resist flex remarkably well. Its vice seemed to be twitchy reactions to sudden steering inputs. Hard driving didn’t pertube it but sudden swerves to avoid Pheasants could put it very sideways. Maybe that was just mine none of the road tests of the time ever mention such a characteristic.

        This is a bit ‘What Car’ but I looked up the boot space figures, the Ka has 6.6 cubic feet and a Panda 8.3 cu/ft. Probably helps that the Pandas suspension is all ‘underfloor’ whereas the struts in the Ka extend up to the belt line. Mind you both are trounced by an Austin Metro that had 9.2 cu/ft.

        Sadly I dont think I have sat in a Mini since I was about 4 but I can well believe they are uncomfortable on long trips.

      • 0 avatar

        Hi KrisT:

        “Its vice seemed to be twitchy reactions to sudden steering inputs. Hard driving didn’t pertube it but sudden swerves to avoid Pheasants could put it very sideways. Maybe that was just mine none of the road tests of the time ever mention such a characteristic.”

        I get what your saying, but I don’t think it’s really that. To be honest, I’ve put myself in just that kind of situation (hard driving, then the need for a sudden swerve) twince in the last couple of weeks. The car seemed controlled in this situation. I believe, if I were in my Palio or Logan, I could well have crashed. What happens is the steering is very sensitive. When this happened in other cars, it’d take a bigger hit at the steering wheel to get it to do the avoidance manouver. In the Ka this is much more less necessary. If you’re unused to the car, you could get in trouble.

        I have had the car for 3 months now. I noticed this characteristic right at the beginning. To be honest, I was expecting it (and looking for it) as I had read a lot about the car over the years. When going around corners, I was surprised by how little you had to move the wheel. Also, the car turns more the further you move the wheel and is less sensitive when the wheel is more on center. So, when you start to turn the wheel, the car doesn’t seem to turn, then the more you twist the wheel the car responds faster.

        I for one like this characteristic. I know there’s a name for this kind of characteristic. I don’t know if on high end cars this is more common but at least in Brazil is not common on any kind of car. I think this is one of those things that gives the Ka its sportiness.

        As to Polo, at least in Brazil, I just find way too harsh. Yes the throws (gears) are short and the suspension is taunt, but in all but perfect asphalt it’s just uncomfortable. In this particular, the Ka is more forgiving without losing musch in sportiness.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I live in the country and do a lot of 60mph driving. That little car would fit me quite well and I wish I had one. The six speed nissan cube is just fine but 32-35mpg is not that impressive for my type of driving.

    Luck to you

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Marcelo, thanks for write up. I once drove 1st generation Ford Fiesta with 1-litre engine, I think car was 1980. To be honest, I liked Lada Samara 1.3 that was only 4 years younger. Before all the bashing starts, that Lada was very easy to repair and, unlike Fiesta, had a brake booster.

    I hope you find your calling in life soon, congratulations on having a son. Wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year!

    • 0 avatar

      You too Bimmer, have a great 2013!

      I confess I have a weak spot for Ladas. I think they’re styling is different and remarkably rugged vehicles. Too bad they got sucked up into the sprawling Renault empire. One less alternative for us car lovers as they’ll probably end up rebadging Renaults, Dacias and Nissans.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    While stationed in Germany, I had Sixt rent me a 2000 Ka after the oil pan on my Alfa T-Spark mysteriously exploded off the underside of the engine whilst doing 160kmh on Autobahn 3. Marcelo, I know you love this Ka, but the rental was the worst dog I’ve driven since having the unfortunate experience six months earlier in the states, having rented a four door Chevy Metro with 3spd autobox.

    The Ka was tinny, not just tiny. It was akin to riding inside a Pepsi can. The 5 spd was ropy and churlish, the steering dead in my hands through its rack-and-pinion non-powered goodness. The real morale booster however, was the total lack of creature comforts. Driver’s seat felt like a dining room chair attached by the gentlemen at TopGear to create a small car. The dash was undertandable cheap but so dreary without anything to draw interest and never quite got over how the instrument cluster was off-set slightly towards the centre of the car, causing me to inadvertently slide myself to the left til I was pushing against the door and window (hence how I noticed). Its exterior styling left much to be desired as well as every slight breeze would cause the 13″ wheels to skitter like butter across a hot-pan. Terrible car for highway commutes, but for city driving, I could see the case. However, wouldn’t it have been better to find a two-year old Mini or other compact over the Ka? That’s the real question.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey dolorean! Thanks for reading, thanks for the reply. I think our different opinions on the car have more to do with where we come from and what we have come to expect in a car.

      As to size, I agree the Ka is very small. However, I find that for my 1.8 m, the front space is more than enough. I’ve had cars like a Fiat Palio in which, if I was having a bad hair day, my hair would brush against the roof. I’ve driven cars like a Chevy Celta that slams me everytime I close the door (that’s the tighest car I think) or a Corsa where the wheel wells intrude so much that you almost have to cross your leg to drive. Or previous generation Gols that force your spine into an S shape the seats, pedals and wheel are so misaligned. BTW, the Ka does tend to throw you to the left. I had thought that that was due to the seats, but probably you’re right.

      As to creature comforts, I’ve driven crank window, non powered steering car. Cars without central locking, without ACs. Cars without clocks, RPM or water temp gages. Cars that needed timing belts replaced at 40k km. Cars whose instruments only lit up partially. My Ka is complete. Clock, white faced gages, power steering, locks, alarm, one touch power windows, AC. While these things are run of the mill in NA or Europe, there are plenty of cars here without.In the article I criticized the lack of instrumentation in the Ka. It’s ridiculous. But in Brazil even brand new cars like the Uno come with just speedometer. Heck a Honda Fit come just with idiot lights instead of temp gages. In this category, the quality of the seats fabrics, their design, the two tone interior, the imagination displayed counts for points. I do understand however how a NAmerican or WEuropean or Australian would find it lacking. Believe me, in Brazil, the general fit and finish of the Ka is a notch above the rest. Specially since it is a 2005 and Ford at that time had not completely cheapened it out like they did to the present car in order to sell it as the cheapest in Brazil.

      As to steering, well yours was non-assisted. I agree, Ford’s non assited steering sucks. The best non assisted steering I1ve encountered in my life are Fiat’s. Light, but really communicative. As to assisted steering I also thought Fiat’s were always pretty good. Better than the one in the Renault Logan I have. But then again the system in my Ka is a step above Fiat’s. That has got to do with the steering being quicker off center. Really head and shoulders above what other basic cars offer in Brazil.

      As to exterior design, what can I say? I like it. And it is a car that will remembered as original for years ahead. Creative and non-comformist, even in Europe it lasted 10 years unchanged partially on the strength of its design. At first I didn’t but I think the Brazilian redesign solved the car’s worst issue which was the back. With the more vertical lamps plus some creases it became much better looking (less fat, I always thought the original version’s back looked like a chipmunk with acorns in its cheeks, the back I’m talking about).

      As to competitors…Well mini. The original Mini was never offered in Brazil. I don’t remember how long the current Mini has been on sale in Brazil. But they are luxury cars here. Imagine the maintenance! BMW pricing, not my league (and I’d much rather have the Fiat 500 if I ever go that route).

      Quick drive through of main competitors.
      Fiat Uno and Palio. Unos of the price range of the Ka I bought are the old one. Had 3 of them back in the 80s and 90s. It is basically the same car today. Kind of like a Beetle. Indestructible but crude. No thanks. Palio? Has 2 Palios plus a Siena. Spent 8 or 9 years of my life driving those. Have had enough of that dash. Plus insurance much too expensive.

      VW Gol. Too hardcore. A car that’s good to drive hard but a chore when puttering along in the city. Uncomfortable plus the unbearable seating position. Insurance also too high.

      Chevy Celta or Corsa. Too small. Finishing worse than Ka. Instrumentation just as bad. Drive very middle of the road with almost 0 sphistication.

      The French. Renault Clio was a very real possibility. Almost bit the bullet on a few but cost/difficulty of maintenance kept me away (Twingo the same multiplied by 10). Peugeot/Citroen don’t trust them enough in terms of reliability.

      Chinese. Give me a break.

      Japanese/Korean. In Brazil people think they’re the same thing. Out of my price target. Plus I consider them boring to drive.

      Anyway, sorry for the rant. I totall respect your opinions. But I think our opinions are tainted by our cultures. That’s ok.

      Thanks again for your honest assesment. This debate BTW is the best thing about this site.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You say it’d get run over on American roads, but I saw one here (in Ohio, USA) about 5 months ago. It seemed to be doing fine! Made me wonder why someone chose to go through the stress of importing it here.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey CoreyDL!

      Thanks for reading. That was just an attempt at humor. In fact, the car is (visually) slightly bigger than a Fiat Cincuecento. ANyways, the comment highlights the smallness of it. A size that Americans aren’t terribly used to, but it seems from the healtthy sales of 500 and others (Spark) that some Americans at least are choosing to downsize vehicular size. As the years pass, more and more of these size cars should be puttering along in America.

      I too wonder how that car you sighted got into America. The car was particularly successful among British but other Europeans bought many of them too. I guess it might have been imported by some expat or a crazy American car buff that knew his stuff. Probabky fun to see people’s reaction to the car up there!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It was a red one with grey bumpers / wheel arches, so I guess that means it was an earlier model? It passed the opposite direction so I didn’t see if it was RHD or if other people were noticing it.

        I was in the car with my family, and said “Hey there’s a Ka!” My dad said, “Huh?”


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