Ford's New City Ka Breaks Cover

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz

City cars are absolutely crucial to European manufacturers. Since 1997, Ford has been a significant player with its very small Ka model. And I don't mean that Ford has been using the Ka nameplate since 1997. I mean the car has been, in large part, the same since 1997. Warmed, rewarmed, dried out, reheated… It was, at times, extremely popular thanks to an insanely low price and being one of the first very small cars (thanks to Richard Parry Jones) to actually handle well– really well in models like the SportKa. But after 11 years of the same old same old, Ford is finally bringing out a new version. It was co-developed with small-car expert Fiat, alongside their new 500; both of cars are based on Fiat's Panda platform. This raises a few eyebrows. While the Panda is exceptionally packaged and the 500 is painfully cute, neither are reported to be astonishing to drive. And considering driving fun and feel is Ford's European trump card, this is reason to be at least a little concerned. Interior and exterior are absolutely fine, but can't hold a candle to the new 500's retro sex appeal or adorable interior. There will no doubt be a range of engines, including small diesel and gas versions, and a hot ST model with some 150 horses. It makes its debut in Paris in the fall and its US debut never.

Justin Berkowitz
Justin Berkowitz

Immensely bored law student. I've also got 3 dogs.

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  • Ingvar Ingvar on Jun 02, 2008

    The reason for the 1997 Ka being very cheap, was that it was built upon the then soon to be replaced Fiesta Mk IV platform, with roots back to 1976, and with an engine from the 60's. The development cost could not have been big.

  • Stingray Stingray on Jun 02, 2008

    Go to and see their new Ka... now that is fugly.

  • JJ JJ on Jun 03, 2008

    Styling by Peugeot more likely... 308 907 207 And most of all 407

  • FromBrazil FromBrazil on Jun 03, 2008

    The new Brazilian Ka has nothing to do with this new European model. The Brazilian Ka is an "evolution" (let's be nice) of the old Fiesta platform. Ford took one of GM's ideas and applied it to the Brazilian Ka (WTF?? An idea from GM??). Call it brilliant from a bean counter's view point, but it runs like this: take the old platform, tweak it a little, use parts from existing parts bin, put on new sheetmetal and call it good!! New car!! New generation!!! In fact, what they do is go back a generation (like GM did with the Celta which is based on the Corsa's first generation) and sell it cheaper than the new Corsa (2nd generation, in Europe it's in its 3rd). Specifically with the Ka, they took the old Fiesta platform (roots in 70s), changed it a little, kept the front structurs of the current Ka (windschield, doors, suspension etc.), strectched platform a little and bang! New Ka! Though its selling better than the old Ka, I guess it's the newness thing. No threat to market leaders VW Gol and Fiat Palio. And the European Ka is food for thought for NA's Fiat haters. A Ford built by Fiat, by Fiat workers, on a Fiat platform, at a Fiat factory. Call me naive, but that's very much a Fiat car. The design came from Ford, but the execution...Seems like the blue oval boys trust the Italians just a little not to tarnish their good name (at least in Europe). I mean, if a an "Italian" Ford is good enough for Ford, doesn't that lend credence to Fiat's planned expansion into the NA market.... Anyway, just sayin' PS Stingray, hope you get the European Ka! Disclousure: I own a previous generation Brazilian Ford Ka. Fun to drive (think go-cart), but uneconomic (w/ a 1.0 65hp engine! My Palio w/ an engine same size gets double the mileage!) and troublesome since new. Still, would probably give the new car a chance. Go figure! But it's actually better in person, though the front, which used to be so characterful, is now totally generic yawn inspiring. The new Ka is better from the back. The old from the front. Can't Ford Brazil get both sides right at the same time??