Ford Ka (2009) unveiled: first photos

Published: 01 August 2008

Ford’s Ka – the cheeky, lovable and classless city car – is back. Still called Ka, the new model will make its show debut at Paris in autumn 2008, before going on sale in the UK by the end of the year. The underpinnings are, of course, from the Fiat 500, but Blue Oval engineers have tweaked the chassis to give the Ka a proper Ford feel, they say.

The new Ford Ka looks good. Is it another Martin Smith design?

It is, and that means the Ka comes wearing Ford's vogueish 'Kinetic design' tag. At the front are two opposing trapezoid grilles, though on the tiny Ka these are formed from a black plastic bumper dividing the single large intake.

All Kinetic design cars are supposed to have wedgy silhouettes, to emphasise the dynamics, and the Ka’s sweptback headlamps and angular glasshouse are designed to disguise the car's Italian Fiat 500 origins.

The Ka's rear haunches and back end appear to have slight Vauxhall Corsa overtones, but then Martin Smith’s previous employer was GM…

How has Ford managed to tweak the Fiat 500 platform to make it different from the Italian product?

'All the hard points of the car were already defined,’ says Smith. ‘We were limited by the architecture of the car, but free to change everything you see, touch and feel.

'Fiat has gone retro. But while we have a design icon in the Ka, we didn’t want to do evolutionary or retro. We wanted Kineti-Ka! It’s all the elements of Kinetic design in a different format. The Ka is chunky and cheeky where the Fiesta is sleek and stylish.’

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And what about the Ford Ka's dynamics?

Ford’s engineers have thoroughly tweaked the 500’s chassis, with a suspension set-up that is said to be more akin to the Abarth version than the standard car.

Blue Oval engineers are still working on the Ka chassis, but the design was signed off months ago, and quickly too. Martin Smith told CAR Online that Ford signed a contract with Fiat in November 2005, and delivered the necessary surface data to produce the tooling by March 2006. That's a quick turnaround by today's industry standards.

So a tweaked Fiat chassis, but what about engines?

Straightforward Fiat fare under the bonnet. Ford has yet to officially announce the Ka’s engine line-up, but expect the Italians to donate the 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol engines, plus the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel.

Whether Ford will release another SportKa – making use of the turbocharged 1.4 from the Abarth 500 – remains to be seen. With the Focus RS and a planned Fiesta ST on the way, it’s hard to see how a sporty Ka wouldn’t be possible.

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What about inside the new Ford Ka?

While the exterior might be stylish, the Ka's interior doesn’t look quite as sharp. Until we sit in the Ka, though, we’ll reserve judgement: it might just be this car’s beige, brown and turquoise colour scheme…

The Fiat genes are obvious in the interior, with this high-end spec car’s air-con controls identical to the 500’s. There is no fancy all-in-one pod for the Ka, and the steering wheel controls move away from the spokes and nearer the boss.

What else should I know about the new Ka?

Right about now the first Ford Kas should be rolling off the production line in Tychy, Poland. They will be early-build models, but soon the Fiat-owned plant will be pushed to capacity with the addition of a Ford model that is hoped to sell 100-140k models per year.

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