► Crossover-spec Ka+ driven
► Tested with 1.2-litre petrol
► Does it make any sense?
When Ford updated the Ka+ supermini in 2017, it introduced this new Active variant – sort of like the Rover Streetwise has been raised from the dead. Remember the Streetwise? Some saw it as an incredibly oddball idea for the time, that a supermini is fitted with a load of SUV-like body cladding and a slightly taller ride height. How times have changed.
It’s not the first supermini to wear wellies and a thick parka, though, with the Vauxhall Viva Rocks (which will be killed off in 2019), the Dacia Sandero Stepway (the UK’s most popular Dacia) and the Kia Picanto X-Line among some of its rivals.
So can I scale mountains in the Ford Ka+ Active?
This is definitely a faux-by-four: there’s no all-wheel drive, no low-range box, no all-terrain tyres. Active-spec Ka+ models come with some roof rails, different bumpers and ‘Rough Road’ suspension supplying a bit of bonus ride height. That’s your lot.
You can pick from a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (like the car we’ve tested) and a 1.5-litre diesel.
What’s the driving experience like?
This is a Ford that helps you keep the faith that they still know how to make the basics work. The steering has tremendous weight with a great balance between feel and accuracy, pedal weights are assuring and the five-speed manual gearbox shift action has a pleasing notchiness without it being hard work. It all adds up to a genuinely sweet city car to drive.
The ride, thanks to that Rough Road suspension set-up, is one of the best in the mini crossover segment. Body roll is pretty pronounced, but most road lumps are dulled out – and that’s surely one of the main benefits of plumping for a city-car-with-wellies-on anyway, isn’t it?
The work comes in wringing out everything you can out of the rather weedy 1.2-litre three-pot engine. You have 84bhp to play with, which is more than the Vauxhall Viva Rocks, but the Active is almost 100kg fatter. It’s a glacial pace of progress up to motorway speeds, but at least the engine is well-insulated.
The interior is going to be rubbish, right?
Well, it is a bargain city car with the Euro-spec ones built in India, so make of that what you will. It’s very similar to the previous-generation Fiesta, with even the steering wheel and gearknob among the list of cross-pollenated parts.
The door cards and centre console are hollower than a call girl’s smile but the actual dashboard itself is fine. Active models have Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto out of the box, plus cruise control and air-con. The Active elements that set it apart from the rest of the Ka+ range include bespoke upholstery door handles with sand-coloured elements in it and chunky floor mats. Equipment is much more generous than a Vauxhall Viva Rocks, and comes in cheaper, too.
How much stuff/people can I fit in?
The Ka+ Active is a bigger car than you first think; it’s taller than a Fiesta and its wheelbase is just 4mm shorter, so interior space is pretty decent for a dinky city slicker. Four are able to sit inside quite happily, with a fifth in the rear centre seat able to squeeze in, not that they’ll enjoy it all that much. There is loads also of legroom in the back for the taller among us.
The boot is the same size as a Fiesta, too, at 270 litres – only a Dacia Sandero Stepway offers more, but then it is a bigger car.
Ford Ka+ Active: verdict
Granted, if you’re set on a Ka+, the Zetec model has a very similar equipment list, but the Active model is good value compared to its fellow ‘mini crossover rivals. Add in a comfy ride, a perky driving experience and practicality from the next car class size up and the Ka+ Active makes a surprising amount of sense.
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