SMALL city cars are neat and nimble but are seldom eye-catching, yet the Ford Ka+ Active is one of the exceptions, styled as a mini-SUV and offering higher ground clearance and a more commanding view of the road.
Add roof rails and some rugged exterior cladding and you have an SUV image, but there is no four-wheel-drive so don’t expect to do any off-roading! However, street image is often important to buyers and so the Ka+ Active ticks that box – it does stand out from the city car crowd.
The Ka+ range starts at €12,788 (£11,300) but the Active model is from €15,222 (£13,450) and the 1.2-litre petrol version comes with two power options – 69 hp and 84 hp. The latter is the best choice because even with the extra power, the Ka is still quite slow off the mark with 0-100 kph taking 13.4 seconds. Top speed of 178 kph (111 mph) means it can cruise on motorways without too much strain, and its average fuel economy is good at 19.6 kpl (55.4 mpg). Emissions are 114 g/km.
The exterior styling touches work well and the cabin is surprisingly spacious, taking four six-foot adults without it feeling tight. Boot space is adequate at 270 litres though with the rear seats folded you can triple the available load space. The extra ground clearance is just 23 mm but it does make a difference in giving the car a more noticeable stance and also allows a better view of the road ahead.
The dashboard is simple in layout, with a central infotainment touchscreen. You get radio, smartphone mirroring, air-conditioning and cruise control among standard kit, along with safety features which include front, side and curtain airbags, hill-start assist, and tyre-pressure monitoring. There are various option packages to add extra equipment if required.
Underway, the Ka+ Active is easy to drive and handle, with light steering which still gives good feedback. Due to the extra ride height, the anti-roll bar has been firmed up so cornering remains composed and ride comfort is good. While the car’s acceleration time to 60 mph is slow by class standards, it doesn’t actually feel that slow, and the engine is relatively quiet when cruising.
The Ford Ka+ is pleasant to be in and pleasing to drive, but for many the main plus-point of this Active version is that it does stand out from city car rivals such as the Citroen C1, Volkswagen Up! and Toyota Aygo thanks to its SUV styling cues.
Facts at a glance
Model: Ford Ka + Active
Engine: 1.2 litre petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Performance: 0-100 kph 13.4 seconds, top speed 178 kph (111mph)
Economy: 19.6 kpl (55.4 mpg)
Emissions: 114 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.