Ford Ka (officially pronounced as "kah"
or "car" not "kay-ay", but usually pronounced in the first
example to avoid confusion) is a city car from the Ford Motor Company marketed in Europe and elsewhere. The European version is produced in Valencia,
Spain, while the one sold in Latin America is built in
Ka with custom spoiler
First generation (1996–present)
The car was introduced on September 11, 1996 as a small and low-cost addition to the Ford range. The Ka is based on the same platform as the Mark III Ford Fiesta, but with a radically different external design. The vehicle was manufactured on the production facility of the outgoing Fiesta model in the Valencia plant after Mark III Fiesta production had continued on with the "classic Fiesta" in Valencia while the new Mark IV Fiesta had started in Cologne and
Dagenham. When the Ka was first introduced to the public it provoked mixed reactions due to its original and striking New Edge design, created by Jack
Besides the styling, the Ka, like its sister cars Fiesta and Puma, was lauded in the motoring press for its nimble handling. Under Richard Parry-Jones's supervision, the suspension and steering settings allowed for spirited cornering and high levels of grip making it one of the best handling cars of the current generation
superminis, not unlike the original Mini.
The main drawback was the Ka's 1300 cc OHV four-cylinder Endura-E engine, a design dating back to the 1960s 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.
The Ka has proved highly profitable for Ford despite its low selling price, largely due to the lack of spending required in its
development. It 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.
Ka with alloy wheels and stripe paintwork
The Ka in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom model range consisted of the standard version, the Ka, and the higher specification Ka². The Ka³ was introduced later. Initially, all Kas were delivered as the standard model and upgraded to the higher variants at Ford dealerships, saving on production costs. However, this practice was dropped following the renaming of the Ka² and Ka³ as the Ka Collection and the LuxuryKa (later Ka Luxury).
These offered colour-coded bumpers for the first time, although this lost the designer's original intention of the black plastic bumpers avoiding parking damage to paintwork in city conditions. The Luxury version came with a
Quick-clear heated windscreen, leather seats and interior trim as well as standard air conditioning and Ka Sun Collection with a full-length fabric folding roof was also added to the range during the summer months. A revised line-up gives Ka the following trim levels in the
Kingdom: Studio, Style and
Style Climate, Zetec and Zetec Climate, Luxury and SportKa SE.
The Ka in Latin America (1997-2007)
Brazilian-market 2005 Ford Ka
Ford StreetKaIn Latin America, the Ka received a facelift in 2003 and is now slightly different externally to the European model; the main noticeable difference is at the rear, with taller lights. The other differences from the
European model are the very short gearbox and the lack of soundproofing, gradually removed each year since 2000 as a way to cut down costs, following what other Brazilian car makers previously did. It is powered by either a 95 hp Zetec Rocam 1.6-litre petrol engine or a 65 hp Zetec Rocam 1.0-litre petrol engine, both of which are four-cylinder units. 108,600 Ka's have been sold in Brazil since July 2002, without counting the sales since 1997 (its launch in Brazil).
Ford presented the new Brazilian Ka on 14 December 2007. Sales will start on 2 January 2008 in Brazil, after which the car will be exported to other markets in Latin America.
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The Ford Ka will be officially discontinued in Mexico in early January 2008 due to poor sales since its introduction in late November
2001. The Mexican Ford Ka was the Brazilian model; it has also been announced that the new Brazilian Ka will not be offered in the Mexican market.
StreetKa sporty convertible Ka
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" 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 pop singer
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 95 hp 1.6-litre 8-valve Duratec petrol engine, whereas Ka, Ka Collection and LuxuryKa retained the 1.3 Duratec petrol
The SportKa was noted for its surprising advertising campaign, "The Ka's Evil Twin", denouncing the Ka's traditionally-perceived "cute"
StreetKa ceased to be officially on sale in late 2006.
A Ford KA rally championship was created in 1998 and has proved to be one of the most popular junior rally championships in Britain and
Ireland. In 2007 Luke Pinder won the BRC
Silverstone Tyre 1400 Championship in a Chris Birkbeck Ford KA.
The Ka generally has a good reliability record.
However, taper-fit sparkplugs are notorious for rusting into the cylinder head. Frequently the head has to be removed and sent to a machine shop when the time comes to change the plugs. The simple solution to this problem is to remove and inspect the plugs at every service interval.
Many Endura-E owners complain of a chattering, rattling or tapping noise from the engine. This is often the tappets. With the tappets set to Ford's specification gap, some noise can be expected but it should not be excessive. If the tappets require almost continuous adjustment or Ford specifications are used and the engine is still excessively noisy (and often starts ticking) the most common problem is the camshaft. Early
Endura-E engines are especially prone to this problem.
The plastic bumpers were clearly in part intended to prevent wheel arch rust, but instead the Ka is known to rust in the welds under the
bonnet and tailgate and where the outer sills are shaped around the doors.
Apply some quality rust remover
and this is a simple fix.
The idle control valve can become blocked, causing an unstable idle and driving difficulties. The part may be replaced or carefully cleaned, ensuring the seal is kept.
The front suspension bushes may need to be replaced about every 3 years or 30,000 miles. A symptom of the bushes nearing replacement is a creaking noise from the front of the vehicle when going over bumps. This is a relatively inexpensive problem to correct.
Those models with solid front discs can suffer from overheating brakes in hilly terrain or, given the car's agile handling, with spirited driving.
In older models the oil sump is prone to corrosion if the protective sealant of the car underside is not maintained.
Earlier models of Ka suffer from a clutch which is known to not stand the test of time very well and will usually need to be replaced after 30,000 miles. Ford became aware of this problem and it does not affect later models.
Second generation (2008)
In 2008 the Ka is due to be replaced with a model car co-developed with Fiat S.p.A using the Fiat Panda platform.
It will be produced in Tychy, Poland with its Fiat sister, the Fiat 500.
The new Ka will maintain the curvy styling features of the original, while bringing the look up to date with details such as elliptical headlamps. It will retain the distinctive rear overhangs and wheel at every corner design; therefore this modern interpretation will be instantly
recognisable. Standard equipment is expected to be improved, with elements such as MP3 player compatibility and satellite navigation.
The new Ka will be available with both 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol engines and additionally a 1.4 TDCi
diesel engine. The traditional Ka logo is also expected to be dropped.
Ka Sport rear hatchback
In popular culture
For several years a modified Ford Ka was installed in the lobby of the London Aquarium to promote Ford's sponsorship of the attraction. The vehicle's doors, windows and vents were sealed and the interior filled with water, forming a home for a shoal of goldfish. The car's number plates read "KARP", a pun on "Ka" and "carp", to which family goldfish belong. The display has now been removed.
According to the BBC
Top Gear Cool Wall, the Ford Ka collects a 'Cool' rating, while the StreetKa enjoys a 'Sub Zero' classification. The SportKa is deemed
The Ford SportKa found fame in 2003 with the release of two viral TV adverts: Pigeon and Cat. Ford and advertising agency Ogilvy Mather distanced themselves from the campaign, saying that the creatives behind the advertisements had not been given the go-ahead to make or release them.
A 2002 Ford Ka is driveable in Gran Turismo 4.
British Ford website
Forum devoted to the Ka
Owners Klub GB
Cat and Pigeon ads
Ka Turkish Fan Site
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