Ford Ka

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Ford Ka
Ford Ka Mk2 Discoschwarz.JPG
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Production 1996–present
Body and chassis
Class City car
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.[1][2][3] In both generations it has a three-door hatchback body style, with the first generation also having a two-door convertible version that was marketed as the StreetKa alongside a sportier hatchback version, known as the SportKa.


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.[4] According to Auto Trader, Ford "top brass" have given the correct pronunciation as "'Ca' – as in 'Cat.'"[5]

First generation (1996–2008)[edit]

First generation
Ford Ka front.jpg
Production 1996–2008 (Spain)
1997–2013 (Brazil)
Assembly Almussafes, Spain (Valencia Body & Assembly)[6]
Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil (Ford do Brasil)[7]
Turin, Italy (Pininfarina)[nb 1]
Designer Claude Lobo (Ka)
Pininfarina (StreetKa)
Body and chassis
Body style 3–door hatchback
2–door convertible
3-door van
Engine 1.3 L Endura E I4 (to 2002)
1.3 L Duratec I4 (from 2002)
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)
Pre facelift Ford Ka rear
Ford Ka facelift
Rear of Ford Ka

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.[8] The design borrowed a lot from Ghia's "Saetta" show car, a roadster designed by Filippo Sapino. The Ka evolved from concept vehicles to production with minor changes. 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, minimising new model investment costs. The Chief Program Engineer was Kevin O’Neill.

When the Ka was introduced to the public it provoked mixed reactions, due to its original and striking New Edge design, overseen by Jack Telnack and executed by Claude Lobo.[9]

Ghia Saetta show car (1996)

Besides the styling, the Ka, like its sister cars Fiesta and Puma, was lauded in the motoring press for its handling. Under Richard Parry-Jones' supervision, the suspension and steering settings allowed for hard cornering and high levels of grip, providing strong handling characteristics.

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,[citation needed] the main drawback was the 1,300 cc OHV four-cylinder Endura-E engine, a design dating 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.[10] 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.[citation needed]

United Kingdom[edit]

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.

Unique to the UK was the Ford Ka Van variant, produced exclusively for BT Group[11] and featuring a bespoke flat plywood floor with rubber over-mat and white ply covers instead of rear windows.

A further line-up revision gave Ka the following trim levels in the United Kingdom: Studio, Style, Style Climate and Zetec Climate. In 2005 the Sublime model was introduced. This featured special leather interior & features not found on other models. This was only produced in very small numbers and is now one of the most sought after KA's. 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[edit]

Ford StreetKa
Ford SportKa
Ford Ka with aftermarket MS body skirt and mirrors (Collection Bumpers)

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 at the Paris Motor Show.[12] It featured a manually folding soft top[13] or an optional detachable hardtop (on the Winter Edition).[14]

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.[citation needed]

A pink version was produced to promote the new Thunderbirds film, and supplied by Ford to the movie producer.[15] 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).[16] 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.[17]


A Ford KA rally championship was created in 1998.[18] 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[edit]

Built by the Ford Motorsport (Ford TeamRS) works at Boreham, Essex,[19] 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 (2009–2015)[edit]

Second generation
Ford Ka II front 20100809.jpg
Production 2008–2014
Assembly Tychy, Poland (Fiat Poland)[20][21]
Body and chassis
Body style 3-door hatchback
Platform Fiat Mini platform
Related Fiat 500
Fiat Panda
Lancia Ypsilon
Engine 1.2 L Duratec (FIRE) I4
1.3 L Duratorq (MultiJet) I4
Transmission 5-speed manual
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,[1] 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.[22][23] 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.

Ford Ka second generation, rear view

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.[24] 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.[25]

The new Ka has an overall Euro NCAP safety rating of 4 stars,[26] 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.[27] 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.[28]

Ka Individual[edit]

Ford Ka Individual Grand Prix
Main article: Ford Individual

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.[29]

Third generation (2015–)[edit]

Supposedly developed by Ford Brazil, the Ford Ka Concept was unveiled in that country.[30] The production version of this new Ford Ka appeared in 2014, with units arriving in South America in May 2014 and also in South Asia before going on sale in Europe.[31][32][33]

Marketing in the Americas[edit]

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 car in Brazil that year.[34]

South America[edit]

2005 Ford Ka (Brazil)
2008 Ford Ka (Brazil)


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.[35]


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.[36] The second advertisement saw the SportKa opening its sunroof, to let a cats head in. The sunroof then closes and beheads the cat.[37] After many complaints, these advertisements were taken off air and they were not shown again.


  1. ^ StreetKa only.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Production begins of the new Ford Ka". Ford. 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  2. ^ Kittler, Eberhard (2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990, vol.6. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 10–12. ISBN 3-613-02052-1. 
  3. ^ Automobile Revue, catalogue edition 2005, p. 232-33.
  4. ^ Love, Martin (2009-05-10). "So near, so Ka". The Observer. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  5. ^ Pattni, Vijay (2008-04-02). "Car names - the unpronounceables". Auto Trader. Archived from the original on 2010-05-31. 
  6. ^ a b "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. 
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ "Future Retro: Ford Ka". Dep-O Magazine. 
  9. ^ "Ford Ka Retrospective". 
  10. ^ "Ford Ka - Car Info". Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  11. ^ Street, Mike. "BT Fleet: The Ford Fiesta and Ka Vans". Light-Straw. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Street Ka Kylie Release". 2002-03-27. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  13. ^ "WORD ON THE STREETKA". The Star. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Used car buying guide: Ford StreetKa (2003-2006)". Autocar. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ford StreetKa Luxury". 2004-08-18. Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  16. ^ "2004 Ford Thunderbirds - Backstage at Birmingham Motor Show". Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  17. ^ "Ford StreetKa Dress". Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  18. ^ "The original irish rallying website". Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  19. ^ "Ford KA Rally Car at Melbourne Motor Show". 1999-03-01. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  20. ^ Auto-Katalog 54. Jahresausgabe 2010/2011 Seite 62 ISSN 0940-3833 Motor Presse Stuttgart GmbH & Co. KG, Stuttgart
  21. ^ Ford Rolls Out Fiat Based New Ka Auto Trends, September 29, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
  22. ^ "Ford And Fiat Sign Agreement On New Generation Of Small Cars". 2005-11-07. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  23. ^ "Ford Ka/Fiat 500 collaboration confirmed". Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  24. ^ "New Model - 500 Abarth 1.4 16V Turbo T-Jet (135bhp)". 2008-07-08. 
  25. ^ "Ford Ka (2008 onwards)". 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  26. ^ "Ford Ka". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  27. ^ "Mulally says Ford Ka May Come to U.S". Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  28. ^ "Mulally: Ford Ka and new Ford Ranger not coming to U.S". 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  29. ^ "Ford KA Custom Modifications - Ford Individual Styling - Ford UK". Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  30. ^ "Ford Shows Off Ka Global Small Car Concept in Brazil". Top Gear Philippines. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  31. ^ Turkus, Brandon (2013-11-13). "Ford Ka Concept shown in Brazil, could enter production in 2014". Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  32. ^ Messeder, Daniel (18 December 2013). "Novo Ford Ka 2014: ensaio exclusivo e mais detalhes sobre o projeto". CARPLACE. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  33. ^ Burn, Jonathan (2013-11-13). "New Ford Ka concept revealed". Auto Express. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  34. ^ "Carros mais vendidos no Brasil em 2011". Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  35. ^ "Home vehículos". Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  36. ^ "Top 5 banned TV adverts". Metro. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  37. ^ "City diary". the guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 

External links[edit]