|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2007)|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door hatchback|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive|
The Ford Ka is a city car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 1996 to present. It entered its second generation in 2008, and is produced by Fiat in Tychy, Poland, while the first generation model is still marketed in Latin America and is built in Brazil. In both generations it has a three-door hatchback body style, with the first generation also having a three-door convertible version, that was marketed as the StreetKa, and a sportier version, known as the SportKa.
- 1 Pronunciation
- 2 First generation (1996–2008)
- 3 Second generation (2008–present)
- 4 Third generation
- 5 Marketing in the Americas
- 6 Controversy
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The name Ka has a number of possible pronunciations, such as with a long or short "a", or pronouncing the letters separately; Ford's press office have used all three. According to Auto Trader, Ford "top brass" have given the correct pronunciation as "'Ca' – as in 'Cat.'"
First generation (1996–2008)
|Assembly||Almussafes, Spain (Valencia Body & Assembly)
Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil (Ford do Brasil)
Turin, Italy (Pininfarina)[nb 1]
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3–door hatchback
|Wheelbase||2,452 mm (96.5 in)|
|Length||3,620 mm (142.5 in) (1996–2008)
3,836 mm (151.0 in) (2008–present)
3,650 mm (143.7 in) (StreetKa)
3,650 mm (143.7 in) (SportKa)
|Width||1,631 mm (64.2 in) (1996–2008)
1,812 mm (71.3 in) (2008–present)
1,679 mm (66.1 in) (StreetKa)
1,695 mm (66.7 in) (SportKa)
|Height||1,368 mm (53.9 in) (1996–2008)
1,420 mm (55.9 in) (2008–present)
1,409 mm (55.5 in) (StreetKa)
1,409 mm (55.5 in) (SportKa)
|Curb weight||820–962 kg (1,808–2,121 lb)|
The car was introduced on 11 September 1996 as a small and low-cost addition to the Ford range. It was based on the Mark IV Ford Fiesta platform, but with a completely different exterior design. The design borrowed a lot from Ghia's "Saetta" show car, a roadster designed by Filippo Sapino. One of the, very few, concept vehicles ever to make it beyond the show circuit, albeit with some changes. In the event, only the front elevation remained largely unscathed on the production vehicle, The side and rear elevations were changed and a roof added, to minimise production costs. Plus the large, one piece, moulded bumpers and wheel arches made the vehicle more durable and easier to repair. The vehicle was manufactured on the existing Fiesta production line in Almussafes, Valencia, thus minimising new model investment costs for Ford. The Chief Program Engineer was Kevin O’Neill.
Besides the fresh styling, the Ka, like its sister cars Fiesta and Puma, was lauded in the motoring press for its nimble handling. Under Richard Parry-Jones' supervision, the suspension and steering settings allowed for spirited cornering and high levels of grip, making it one of the best handling small cars.
At launch, Ka was produced as a single model, with a number of production options including air conditioning, power steering, height-adjustable driver’s seat, adjustable position rear seat with head restraints, passenger airbag, central locking and power windows. An anti-lock braking system option was added in January 1997.
Aside from corrosion, the main drawback was the 1,300 cc OHV four-cylinder Endura-E engine, a design dating back to the 1950s Kent engine used in the Ford Anglia. Although not very modern, it provided enough torque to allow relaxed if not spirited driving. In 2002, the Endura-E was replaced by the overhead cam Duratec engine, with claims of improved fuel efficiency and increased refinement, mostly caused by taller gearing on the non-air conditioned models.
For the first three years of production, all models had black plastic bumpers to minimise parking damage to paintwork in city conditions. These bumpers contained a stabiliser to prevent UV degradation which made them unsuitable for painting because the paint would not adhere properly. However, it became clear that many owners wanted body-coloured bumpers, so they were introduced in 1999 using different bumper mouldings (without the stabiliser) which can be identified by a light styling line over the rear bumper.
The Ka has proved highly profitable for Ford despite its low selling price, largely due to its low development costs. In 2006, Ford sold 17,000 examples of the Ka model in the United Kingdom. As with other Ford models, insufficient anti-corrosion treatment during manufacture and the use of non-galvanised steel results in premature surface and structural corrosion becoming established on cars used in more northern, damp climates.
Ka has been the best selling car in its class in the United Kingdom for a number of years and commands around a fifth of the city car market. The UK model range originally consisted of the base version, the Ka, and the higher specification Ka² which standardised a number of the options listed above. The Ka² badge was fitted by dealers. Ka³ was introduced later. Power steering was added to the specification of the basic Ka after the first year.
Concurrent with the introduction of body-coloured bumpers Ka² and Ka³ were replaced by Ka Collection and the LuxuryKa (later Ka Luxury).
The Luxury version came with a Quickclear heated windscreen, leather seats and interior trim as well as standard air conditioning. A 'Ka Blue' special edition was also launched in the UK with dark blue bumpers and a silvery-blue dashboard insert, rather than the standard models' silver. The Ka Sun Collection with a full-length fabric folding roof was also added to the range during the summer months.
A further line-up revision gave Ka the following trim levels in the United Kingdom: Studio, Style, Style Climate and Zetec Climate. SportKa was also added to the range (see below). With the car's impending replacement, in May 2008 a Finale special edition with distinguishing features such as roof decal and black wing mirrors was made available.
StreetKa and SportKa
In 2003, the Ka brand was diversified, with the addition of a new SportKa featuring a sporty body kit, wider track with stiffened suspension and redesigned 16" (40 cm) alloy wheels. Both models came with slightly widened bumpers front and rear with integral fog lamps. A convertible model called StreetKa also appeared, launched with the help of singer Kylie Minogue.
In 2005, all Ka models including SportKa and StreetKa received a slightly updated interior, bringing the cabin back up to date, while still retaining the look and feel of the original. Both StreetKa and SportKa received a new 93 hp (69 kW) 1.6 litre 8-valve Duratec petrol engine, whereas Ka, Ka Collection, and LuxuryKa retained the 1.3 litre Duratec petrol engine. The SportKa was noted for its surprising advertising campaign, "The Ka's Evil Twin", denouncing the Ka's traditionally perceived "cute" design. StreetKa ceased to be officially on sale in late 2006.
A pink version was produced to promote the new Thunderbirds film, and supplied by Ford to the movie producer. The Thunderbird movie cars were unveiled at the Birmingham Motor Show. Only eight Pink StreetKa were produced by Ford for the film, 5 RHD and 3 LHD. All were signed by Sophia Myles (Miss Lady Penelope). The matching StreetKa dress designed by Bruce Oldfield of Ford was later sold in an auction during London Fashion Week to raise money for Barnados.
A Ford KA rally championship was created in 1998. It has proved to be one of the most popular junior rally championships (Ford Ka Rally Cup) in Britain and Ireland. In 2007, Luke Pinder won the BRC Silverstone Tyre 1400 Championship in a Chris Birkbeck Ford KA.
Ka Rally Car
Built by the Ford Motorsport (Ford TeamRS) works at Boreham, Essex, The Rally Ka was designed as an entry-level vehicle to compete in a one-make series as part of the British Mintex rally championship. The Ka Championship in 1997 with just four cars in the debut Granite City Rally event. In 1998 fifteen competitors undertook the Mintex challenge. Ford's Boreham airfield facility provides a complete build service for competitors wishing to rally Ka. Most of the parts supplied are concerned with strengthening the car for rallying. Uprated engine mounts and suspension bushes are all included, as is a front strut brace. Aluminium sump and fuel tank guards, OZ Rally wheels and a Safety Devices bolt-in roll cage are all either fitted by the Boreham works or supplied to individual teams. Performance-enhancing modifications are limited to the addition of a Rally spec engine control unit, camshaft and 4-into-2-into-1 extractor set attached to a free-flowing exhaust. This combination lifts power to 80 hp (60 kW), and to cope with it competitors are encouraged to fit the optional uprated drive shafts with larger CV joints. A limited-slip differential and heavier clutch plate are also available. A competition brake package consisting of Mintex pads gripping vented front brake rotors and stronger rear drums is homologated for Rally Ka. Replacing the original shock absorbers is a set of four remote-reservoir Proflex coil-over struts adjustable for compression and rebound damping. These are allied to a lowering kit and adjustable spring platforms to give Ka competitors a wide range of suspension settings including ride height. Inside the Rally Ka is all business. In true rally fashion gone are all but the essentials: the two central eyeball vents are replaced by a tachometer and auxiliary gauge. Even the replacement panels in the dashboard which support the fire extinguisher button and extra switches and gauges required in a rally car are listed in the Boreham parts schedule. A deeply dished rally steering wheel, competition seats and harnesses are all supplied from the kit and replacements are not allowed.
Second generation (2008–present)
|Assembly||Tychy, Poland (Fiat Poland)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door hatchback|
|Platform||Fiat Mini platform|
|Engine||1.2 L Duratec (FIRE) I4
1.3 L Duratorq (MultiJet) I4
|Wheelbase||2,301 mm (90.6 in)|
|Length||3,620 mm (142.5 in)|
|Width||1,658 mm (65.3 in)|
|Height||1,505 mm (59.3 in)|
|Curb weight||870 kg (1,920 lb)|
In 2008, the European Ka was replaced with a model developed and produced for Ford by Fiat S.p.A in conjunction with Fiat's own 500 vehicle. The car is built in Fiat's Tychy, Poland, factory alongside the Fiat 500, Fiat Panda and Lancia Ypsilon.
Despite the wholly different architecture underneath, the new Ka maintains the curved styling features of the original, while bringing the look in line with Ford's Kinetic Design philosophy. It retains the wheel-at-each-corner stance of the previous model. Ford promises a cabin featuring 'expressive colours'. This mostly refers to the multichoice interior styling that is provided for the second time in Ford, right after the success of the Fiesta's interior design. In addition, the interior can be equipped with accessories such as a Bluetooth phone connection, wireless voice control, a USB port, a CD Radio, MP3, an AUX connector, steering wheel audio controls and a speaker system consisting of six speakers, a subwoofer and an amplifier.
The new Ka comes with a choice of two engines, a 1.2 litre petrol with 69 PS (51 kW) of power and 102 N·m (75 lbf·ft) of torque and a 1.3 litre TDCi diesel engine with 75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp) of power and 145 N·m (107 lb·ft) of torque. Both engines come with sub-120 g/km CO2 emissions (119 for the petrol and 112 for the diesel). Both engines are supplied from Fiat.
The main mechanical differentiator between the new Ka and its Fiat sibling is that the Ford has better shock absorption than the Fiat 500. Fitting a rear anti-roll bar enabled 30 percent softer springs and accordingly retuned dampers to improve ride performance over uneven road surfaces. Some of these improvements were subsequently adopted on Fiat 500 Abarth and Fiat 500C models. Changes were also made to the 500's steering geometry for the Ka, although as the new Ka uses an electrically assisted steering system, it lacks the communication of its predecessor's hydraulically assisted steering. However, the electric steering system does make the steering much lighter and more energy efficient than its predecessor.
The new Ka has an overall Euro NCAP safety rating of 4 stars, with standard driver and passenger single-stage front airbags, ABS, immobiliser, hazard warning lights and remote central locking (except Studio version in UK). In addition, there are front side airbags and curtain airbags and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) with HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assist) and HLA (Hill Launch Assist) that come at an extra cost.
The new Ka made its debut in the 22nd James Bond film Quantum of Solace and was unveiled in October 2008's Paris Motor Show.
In 2008, there was some speculation that the Ka might be introduced to the North American market. It has since been confirmed however that Ford consider the Ka too small for American tastes and will not be introducing the vehicle to this market.
There are also three "Ford Individual packs" with special characteristics each (in both the interior and exterior design), called Tattoo, Grand Prix and Digital. Tattoo was replaced in 2011 by Metal. All Individual models are based on the Zetec.
In November 2013, Ford unveiled the Ka Concept in Brazil. Developed in-house by Ford Brazil, the new car is planned to enter production in 2014, with units arriving in South America and South Asia before Europe.
Marketing in the Americas
Over the years the Latin American Ka has become progressively different from the European Ka. The first divergence was in 2003, when the rear of the Latin American made Ka was significantly re-designed. This was followed by a more complete divergence from the European Ka in 2007, when the Latin American made Ka was relaunched with a completely new body over the original platform. With the launch of the 2nd generation European Ka, with a new body and the new Fiat platform, the separation of the European and Latin American Kas was complete. They are now completely different cars.
From the year 2000 up to the present the Latin American Ka has been powered by either a 94 hp (70 kW; 95 PS) Zetec Rocam 1.6 litre petrol engine or a 64 hp (48 kW; 65 PS) Zetec Rocam 1.0 litre petrol engine, both of which are four-cylinder units.
A total of 63,766 units were sold in Brazil in 2011, making it the 14th most sold card in Brazil that year.
From its launch in 1997 until 2001 the Latin American Ka was substantially similar to the European Ka, differing only in levels of equipment and trim. The main differences from the European model were the very short gearing for the manual gearbox (the only transmission available) and the lack of soundproofing, which was gradually removed each year since 2000 as a way to cut down costs, following the practice of other Brazilian car makers at the time.
In 2001, the Latin American Ka received a facelift which left it slightly different, externally, to the European model; the most noticeable difference was at the rear, where the number plate was moved from the bumper to the boot lid, and the rear lights were made much taller.
Ford presented the new Brazilian Ka on 14 December 2007. Sales started on January 2, 2008 in Brazil, and the car was exported to other markets in Latin America. In comparison to the original Ka this car has a longer rear overhang and a redesigned rear seat to accommodate a fifth passenger. With a length of 3835 mmm, it now fits in the subcompact car class. In 2011 Ford presented a facelifted version following the Kinect concept car. In Brazil, only the Sport version offers a 1.6-litre engine.
In 2008, with the launch of the new European Ka, based on the Fiat platform, the two lines of the Ka had finally become completely separate.
The Ford Ka was officially discontinued in Mexico in early January 2008 when it was announced that the new Brazilian Ka would not be offered in the Mexican market.
In 2006, two commercials advertising the Ford SportKa proved controversial when it received complaints for its content. The first commercial included a pigeon flying away, and being whacked and killed by the bonnet of the car. The second advertisement saw the SportKa opening its sunroof, to let a cats head in. The sunroof then closes and beheads the cat. After many complaints, these advertisements were taken off air and they were not shown again.
- "Production begins of the new Ford Ka". Ford. 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
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- "Streetka Overview". Ford Motor Company. Retrieved 15 May 2013. "Major sheet metal stampings are provided by Ford’s Valencia Assembly Plant – home of the Ka."
- "Ford Automotive Operations - Latin America (Brazil)". Ford Motor Company Newsroom. Retrieved 15 May 2013. "A Brazilian-built Fiesta was launched in 1996 and the Ka and Courier pickup arrived in 1997."
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- StreetKa only.
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