Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Supermini”

Peugeot 108 & 308 SW First Drives at UK launch


Peugeot 108So, the second iteration of the C1/Aygo/108 has arrived. Toyota have unveiled a funky little thing with an X-Men style front end, Citroen’s styling has gone down the multi-level headlight route, similar to the Juke, and finally, here’s Peugeot‘s new 108.

Unsurprisingly it shares its range of 3-cylinder petrol engines with the C1, but the three cars are far more individualised than the original trio, with Peugeot’s styling being very different from the other two and their emphasis apparently being on personalisation, a theme that’s worked so well with the MINI and the Fiat 500.

Visually it’s fairly obvious that the front end of the 108 is towing the party line and it’s very similar to a 208 or 308, it’s just been scaled down a little. It’s full of features in a relatively small space, in a similar vein to the BMW i3 and even the Aston Martin Cygnet.

Peugeot have identified that 60% of 108 buyers will be women, presumably young ones (watch the new TV advert here -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuFgDpouNR8) and from this they’ve deduced that their target market will be attracted to the personalisation element on offer. Any top chef will tell you that a menu shouldn’t offer too much choice (Vauxhall Adam!!!) and thankfully Peugeot have limited the themes available on the 108 to 7 distinctive flavours, ranging from two-tone paint (Dual) to a barcode running the length of the car (Barcode).

108 Top! in Barcode theme

108 Top! in Barcode theme

The 108 also comes in a choice of 3 or 5 door, the usual Peugeot spec levels, and perhaps more pertinently, the option to have a full-length sunroof on models they’ve christened Top! Just one note of warning though – headroom in the rear on hardtop models is acceptable – opt for Top! and anyone over 5′ tall will find it cramped.

108 interior with very handy 7" touchscreen

108 interior with very handy 7″ touchscreen

3-cylinder engines are all the rage at the moment and I’m a big fan. The 108 comes with a choice of 1.0l (68bhp) or 1.2 (82bhp) with both engines coming in under the magical 100g/km CO2 mark, so no VED to pay. The 1 litre is slightly more economical than the 1.2 (52.3mpg vs 56.5), but if your budget will stretch to it, I’d opt for the 1.2 as the smaller engine does feel strained at higher speeds.

The 108’s wheelbase has been stretched compared to the 107, and you can tell. The handling feels more competent and bumps are absorbed much more readily, giving the 108 more grown-up road manners than its predecessor.

308 SW

48 - Peugeot 308 SWI was hugely impressed with the 308 when I reviewed it earlier this year so does it’s appeal continue when it’s stretched a little to give us the estate variant? I can’t deny that something’s lost in the looks department compared to the hatch – a car I still feel is probably the most attractive in its class. The wheelbase of the SW is extended by 11cm, and the rear overhang by 22cm, obviously this is to maximise load carrying capacity but the squat, purposeful look of the hatch is diluted somewhat by doing so.

35 - Peugeot 308 SWThe good news is that, not only is the loadspace it creates fairly vast (maximum 1,660 litres with seats folded flat), but the way the 308 SW handles is still impressive, just like its little brother. The diminutive steering wheel hasn’t gone – a feature I feel should be limited to sportier Peugeots, but the steering setup has been re-engineered on the SW to be less responsive – this is a good thing. I felt that the 308 hatch was a little twitchy for its own good and, personally, I think the whole range would benefit from the SW’s more relaxed manner.

The 108 is available from £8,245 and the 308 SW from £16,845 – full details at http://www.peugeot.co.uk

Suzuki Swift DDiS SZ4 – Driven and Reviewed

suzuki swift ddis frontSomewhere in the deepest, darkest recesses of my grey matter, in a place that’s seldom visited, and even then only in extreme situations, there’s been a little factoid swimming around for years, and now seems the perfect time for it to see the light of day once more; If I remember rightly, the Suzuki Swift Gti from the ’90’s was the quickest 1.3 on the market at the time – don’t know why that stuck in my mind, but since I heard it, I’ve looked at this little hatch slightly differently.

suzuki swift ddis rear and sideThe Swift has grown up somewhat in recent times, literally; Gone are the cutesy looks that often drew comparisons with a mouse, and in their place is something that’s not only much larger, but altogether easier to take seriously. That said, the Swift’s still all about easy, user-friendly motoring and is primarily aimed at people who’ll appreciate a car for its abilities in a multi-storey car park, not necessarily how it handles  a cross-continent schlep.

suzuki swift ddis front and sideI spent most of my week with the Swift noticing other Swifts and refusing to believe they were cut from the same cloth. That’s because the Swift is one of those cars that’s infinitely bigger once you’re in them than you’d believe by looking at them – the old analogy being a Tardis car. The amount of room on offer inside is very impressive – I think you’d struggle to feel as comfortable in anything else in this class. Of course, there has to be a trade-off for all of this room, and in the case of the Swift, it’s a tad short in the boot department. At a piffling 211 litres, you could actually say it’s very short in the boot department compared to its rivals. Obviously you could put the rear seats down which gives you a whopping 528 litres capacity, but if you plan on carrying large loads without having to leave the kids at home, I’d look elsewhere.

Not the biggest boot in the world.......

Not the biggest boot in the world…….

Diminutive boot aside, the interior feels well screwed together and sensibly thought out. It’s definitely not the most inspiring design in the world, with some fairly bland areas of black plastic, but the materials used belie the bargain nature of the Swift and there’s some nice highlights and splashes of brushed metal that add a more premium feel to the car. One aspect that unfortunately feels anything but premium though, is the media system. It’s apparently equipped with Bluetooth technology or you can plug your phone directly in via USB – neither option worked particularly well with my iPhone and after they flatly refused to communicate with each other, I just gave up on the whole affair. Thankfully though, the latest SZ4 models are apparently supplied with a far more user friendly Bluetooth system, and DAB and nav – I’ve not seem them in action but I’m guessing they’re a vast improvement on our test car’s disappointing effort.

suzuki swift ddis interiorOne mod con that did work especially well on our range-topping SZ4 model was the keyless entry system. I know they’re widely available and hardly even cutting edge anymore, but I don’t recall a system ever working so reliably, certainly not on a car of this class, anyway. Coupled with the Swift’s Stop-Start button, it really makes the whole task of getting kids or shopping into and out of the car far quicker and simpler – very handy when it’s throwing it down too!

This particular Swift is propelled by a an engine with a 1300cc capacity, just as the Swift Gti from the ’90s was, but that’s just about where the similarities end. This multi award-winning JTD Diesel unit has been borrowed from Fiat and is you can see why Suzuki were keen to utilise it in their Swift – it returns over 70mpg combined, will only cost 20 quid a year to tax and isn’t even that slow (12.7s – 62mph), even if the Fiat engine does take a while to spool up and then delivers all of its power in one almighty, old school style slug.

suzuki swift ddis rearBut this isn’t the engine I’d plump for though. Ignoring the Swift Sport that’s available with a 1.6l petrol, it’s a choice of two units – this Diesel or a 1.2 petrol, and without even driving it, I’d go for the petrol. Wanna know why? – It’s down to cost – The Diesel engined Swift is only available in this SZ4 version that we have on test here, and at £15,139, it’s just too much for what you get. Put it this way – for the same money you could have a Fiesta Zetec with their excellent EcoBoost engine and just about every optional extra you care to name. And a far larger boot.

What makes more sense, then, is to opt for the 1.2l petrol engine. Yes, it loses out slightly in the emissions argument, and it only claims a combined 56.5 mpg, but it’s marginally quicker to 62mph (12.3s) and if you order your Swift before the end of June, it’s available for an impressive £8,999 – now that makes sense. In the interest of fairness, that same offer makes the Diesel variant £12,616 OTR, but just think how long it would take you to recoup the extra £3.5k in fuel and VED savings if you opted for the oil burner.

suzuki swift ddis rear lightWhat’s also important to point out here is that whichever Swift you opt for, it’s really good fun to drive. I wouldn’t think pinpoint turning and a well weighted chassis is really a prerequisite in a car of this price, but if you do get the urge to throw a Swift around a bit, it won’t disappoint. If you look at the way it’s engineered – with a wheel stuck in each corner, it’s no surprise that handling is one of its strong suits, but without some thought, Suzuki could easily have messed up this most pleasant of features.

The Swift has many good points, and some not-so-great. If you’re insistent on owning a Diesel or ferrying lots of luggage around, I’d look elsewhere, but if you want a bit of a bargain that’s attractive and fun to drive – it s definitely worth considering.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Suzuki Swift DDiS SZ4, Engine – 1.3l Diesel, four-cylinder turbocharged, Transmission – 5 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 190NM @ 1750rpm, Emissions – 101g/km CO2, Economy – 72.4mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 103 mph, Acceleration – 12.7s 0-62mph, Price – £15,139 OTR (available for £12,616 until 30/6/2014), £15,569 as tested. 

For full details, go to http://www.suzuki.co.uk/cars/cars

Ford Fiesta Zetec 80PS – Driven and Reviewed

2014FordFiesta_1LiterThree cylinder engines seem to be the current craze amongst manufacturers in their pursuit of increasing mpg whilst leaving performance intact. Amongst others, Hyundai and the latest ‘New’ Minis have adopted the technology, but remember it was Ford and their EcoBoost units that really brought this asymmetrical technology back into the spotlight.

We tested the turbocharged 1.0l EcoBoost Fiesta back in 2013 and were impressed, not only with its peppy engine, but with the refined ride and sorted chassis that’s so willing to be thrown around, especially with this lightweight engine up front.

So, what happens when you take this great recipe and take something away, in this case the turbo? Well, you’d expect performance to suffer, obviously, with the trade-off being even more impressive mpg and even fewer visits to the pumps. Quite bizarrely, only some of this is true – and it’s not good news I’m afraid. This 80ps Fiesta feels laboured around town, unwilling to get up to acceptable speeds without the aid of forced induction, but the improved economy part of the deal seems to have gone amiss somehow.

Ford's EcoBoost engine

Ford’s EcoBoost engine

Both 80ps and 125ps Fiestas return a claimed 65.7mpg combined and emit 99g/km Co2, and I dare say that the stifled acceleration of the lower powered model will encourage drivers to push the engine harder, negating any potential petrol savings as they grow frustrated with travelling so slowly.

One aspect of the 80ps Fiesta’s performance that’s surprisingly good is at higher-speed, on motorways and the like. The lack of turbo is fairly irrelevant when 70mph is reached, and should the need arise, the EcoBoost engine responds admirably when pushed. It’s just a shame that this car was primarily designed with inner-city driving in mind, where it’s found lacking.

I suspect that the 80ps Fiesta will find its way into many homes as a first car for the inexperienced driver, and this is where it could really excel. Speaking as a parent, I’d personally welcome the loss of performance if it were my child’s steed, and you obviously still get all the advantages that come with every Fiesta, such as 5 Euro NCAP stars. It’s also the cheapest way into Fiesta ownership (£13,995), but not only this, its 6E insurance group is significantly lower than other models.

Fiesta 2012 1FordSync-580-90Standard equipment is still impressive for your £14K, but if the budget will extend a little, I’d opt for the Nav system with DAB radio and SYNC system at £700 – it’s not infallible but it’s still one of the best systems on the market.

We’ve grown to expect a lot of bang for our bucks with Ford’s multi-award winning EcoBoost engines. Taking away the turbo has resulted in a decline in the fun factor, but taken in its own right, this version of the much-hailed Fiesta still stands up to scrutiny against the competition, especially in the quality and appeal departments.


By Ben Harrington


Specifications; Ford Fiesta Zetec 80PSEngine –1.0l EcoBoost three cylinder na petrol, 5 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power –  80ps, Torque – 105NM, Emissions – 99g/km CO2, Economy – 65.7mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 103 mph, Acceleration – 14.9s 0-62mph, Price – £13,995 OTR


For full details, go to http://www.ford.co.uk/Fiesta




New Generation Hyundai i10 – Driven and Reviewed

Hyundai i10 front 3-4The way Korean manufacturers have progressed in recent years is nothing less than a revelation. Everything from their dramatic makeover in the looks department, to their confidence inspiring, rest-of-the-market-worrying-warranties has come as something of a surprise and seen them go from the Japanese automotive giants’ poor relation, to flag-bearers of the Asian car making community.

And surprise is what this Hyundai i10 is all about. This second generation supermini had to follow on the previous model’s modus operandi of offering cheap, affordable, family motoring – but with far more competition on the scene than when the original i10 was introduced, it also had to stand out from the crowd.

So, gone are the toy-town, slab-sides of the original, in their place are some genuine styling features such as subtly flared wheel arches and daytime running lamp signature, adding contrast and interest to the previously dull shape. Think the C pillar looks familiar? – That’ll probably be because it’s switch-back shape is very similar to the original Mercedes A-Class’. The whole car is far more squat and purposeful than the original, too, hinting at another potential new string to the i10’s bow – driver satisfaction.

Hyundai i10 rearWhat’s important to remember with the new-gen i10 is that it’s still a cheap car – starting at £8,495 for the S model. You’d have to splash out a little extra (£9,995) for our range topping Premium model with its alloy wheels and mirror-mounted indicators, but this is one of those times where I think I’d take great delight in getting back to basics and opting for the cheapest model available. The interiors on all i10s are what you’d expect, with large amounts of wipe-clean plastics smattered liberally around the place, but this is where the i10 introduces one of its surprises – the cabin is a far more pleasant place to be than you’d warrant. There’s ample room for a whole family, a decent size boot (252 litres), and the textures and shapes used in the cabin are original and eye-catching, making journeys less tedious and adding a little air of quality. Knobs and dials are chunky and tactile, but if you want one of them to control the car’s air-con – you’d have to forego the S model in favour of a higher spec, as the S doesn’t have it.

There’s a choice of two petrol engines – a 1.0 3 cylinder or a 1.2, 16V 4 cylinder. Both are impressively frugal (unless you opt for the ill-advised automatic ‘box) and neither’s going to set the world on fire performance wise, so, again, I’d opt to save some cash and go for the 3 cylinder model that our test car was graced with. Not only is it more economical (go for the Blue Drive model and it’s even in the zero tax bracket), but you can also treat your ears to the hugely addictive thrum that the 3 cylinder engine emits.

Hyundai i10 cabinThere’s a feather-light feel to both the steering and gearbox on the new i10, especially around town where, lets face it, the i10 is going to spend most of its life. The motor-driven power steering makes manoeuvres as easy as it gets, even more so if you pay for rear parking sensors (£195). Gear changes are effortless and smooth, to the point that a well-aimed puff of breath could probably save you the effort of moving your left arm – it really is that easy. The only fly in the ointment here is that, for some reason, reverse has a habit of occasionally refusing to play-ball and can take a few clutch-in-clutch-out, waggle gearstick furiously kind of motions before agreeing to progress backwards.

Hyundai i10 sideAll of this city biased driver assistance would quite rightly prompt you to assume that this is where the i10 is happy and it all unravels on the more ‘fun’ rural style roads. But you’d be wrong. This is yet another of those surprise elements that the new i10 keeps producing – throw it around a few corners and it doesn’t feel like a fish out of water at all. Again, you have to stump up some extra cash for Premium spec if you want alloys as seen on our test car, and they usually make a difference to a car’s handling, but they are only 14” across so I wouldn’t expect a dire drop in grip if your i10’s on steels. I’m not for one minute suggesting the i10 is some track-day ‘Q’ car; feedback through the wheel is fairly minimal – as is the norm when electric motors are involved in the steering department. What I would say though, is that this car is what I call ‘honest’, providing decent handling and some cheap thrills when you want to press on.

Hyundai i10 frontWould I recommend an i10 then? Absolutely, yes, and not just because of its improvement over the previous model. There is unprecedented competition in this sector at the moment, but for this money, when you consider that you’re also getting a 5 year, unlimited mileage warranty,  the i10’s up there with the best.

By Ben Harrington


Specifications; Hyundai i10 Premium, Engine – 1.0l DOHC 3 Cylinder, Transmission – 5 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 66ps, Torque – 95Nm, Emissions – 108g/km CO2, Economy – 60.1mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 96mph, Acceleration – 14.9s 0-62mph, Price – £9,995 OTR, £10,695 as tested (i10 is available from £8,495)

For full details, go to http://www.hyundai.co.uk






MG3 3Form Sport – Driven and Reviewed

MG badgeMG have come a long way since their launch in 1924. Various mergers and takeovers have taken them all the way from their Morris Garages roots, to a marque that’s presently owned by Chinese firm SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation), currently offering two models in the UK – the 6 and what we have here, the 3.

We could wax lyrical for hours about MG and its numerous ups and downs, but that’s for another time. What’s important is the here and now, and right now MG’s most recent offering is this rather natty looking 3 model, here for review in Form Sport guise.

MG 3Form Sport sideBeing owned by a Chinese firm, you’d expect MGs to be primarily focussed on offering value for money, and you’d be right. Walk into any of the 40+ dealerships across the UK and you can pick up a five door 3 for the paltry sum of £8399. But, for the meagre sum of £9549, you could have something that looks as good as this Form Sport model, and doesn’t it look good, too?

MG 3Form Sport frontSharing many of its lines with Skoda’s Fabia is no bad thing, but the basic shape is where the similarity ends. It may be more for form than function, but that forked front splitter and Venturi style rear splitter, along with the essential strings of LED running lights gives the 3 a real presence on the road. The 16” alloy wheels that come standard on the Sport model fill the arches neatly and make the gap between car and road appear diminutive to say the least.

MG 3Form Sport splitterA car of this nature just wouldn’t be complete without a multitude of graphic-based options to ensure that it stands out from the crowd, and the 3 is no different. Our test car was quite conservatively specced, but go onto the MG website – http://www.mg.co.uk, and one can opt for stripes, emoticons, or even a somewhat cheeky Union flag decal to add that touch of individuality.

MG 3Form Sport interiorInside the car is where the 3’s budget price tag is most obviously demonstrated – the plastics come in vast swathes and are what you’d expect in this price range. That said though, build quality seems to belie its roots and everything from the way the door shuts with a resounding thud, to the solid feel of the cabin feels reassuringly well screwed together.

So simple, yet so effective

So simple, yet so effective

There are few aspects of the 3’s cabin that aren’t just ‘ok for the money’ – they’re excellent. Call me easily impressed but MG’s deliciously simple phone holding solution, coupled with a set of display needles that flick around to maximum when the key’s turned in the ignition can go a long way to convincing you that you’ve invested in your sub £10K car wisely. The steering wheel is another item that deserves special mention; contrary to some of the 3’s plastics, the materials used feel quality and its shape and size are near perfect. This surely isn’t an accident – the wheel is obviously the most tactile part of any car’s interior and is closest to the driver’s eyes – make it stand out and you’re subliminally telling the driver that this is a car that’s had some love poured into it.

MG 3Form Sport front1The room in the 3’s cabin is a lot more voluminous than you might imagine. There’s genuinely plenty of leg and head space for five adults, and the boot isn’t too pokey either (285 litres). This may be considered a small car by modern standards, but when I parked the 3 next to a Mk1 Golf, it was genuinely shocking to see how the MG dwarfed the VW.

Love the dials, not keen on tiny gear change indicator though

Love the dials, not keen on tiny gear change indicator, though

The only real criticism I’ve got towards the 3’s interior is the minuscule gear change indicator. It’s so small that I’d say it could actually be dangerous to use it whilst driving, taking the driver’s attention away from the road for an inordinate amount of time. It’s not an essential item on a car of this class, so I’d say either make it useable or ditch it, as the one provided is neither use, nor ornament.

So far, so good then. The 3 is a pleasant place to be and this Sport spec looks far more expensive than it actually is, but what’s it like to drive? There’s one engine on offer across the range – a 1.5 litre, 4 cylinder affair, producing 106PS at 6000rpm. It’s not the most responsive engine in the world and needs a fair bit of coaxing to reach the top of its power band, but when it does get there its keen enough to move the fairly lightweight 3 from point to point quickly enough to keep one entertained. Producing 136g/km CO2 and managing a claimed 48.7 mpg combined, it’s obviously not the most cutting edge engine in the world, but it’s certainly acceptable at this price and I wouldn’t let it put anyone off, unless sky-high mpg is your absolute priority.

MG 3Form Sport rear 3-4All of this brings me onto what’s undoubtedly the MG’s secret weapon – the way it handles. It’s hard to state strongly enough just how satisfying the 3 is around corners, but a car that costs this little has no right to offer the thrills it does. The way it responds instantly to the slightest adjustment is sublime, the power steering being barely noticeable and not intruding at all into the purity of the driving sensation. I don’t say this lightly, but the way the 3 handles is comparable to the awesome Fiesta ST – it really is that good. The 3 does come shod with Goodyear’s much-lauded EfficientGrip tyres all round – they may not be the cheapest but if they’re contributing at all towards the excellent levels of grip – it’s worth it, especially in the wet when the car seems to lose nothing in terms of stickiness.

So, to conclude. If you’re in the market for a sub £10K car, there’s quite a lot of choice at the moment from a broad spectrum of manufacturers. If it were my money, I’d definitely be looking towards this characterful MG. Some aspects like the engine might be in-keeping with its price-tag, but the quality, combined with a ride that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face are streets ahead of the competition.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; MG 3Form Sport, Engine – 1.5l DOHC VTI-Tech, Transmission – 5 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 106ps, Torque – 137Nm, Emissions – 136g/km CO2, Economy – 48.7mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 108mph, Acceleration – 10.4s 0-62mph, Price – £9,549 OTR, £10,165 as tested

For full details, go to http://www.mg.co.uk

Ford Ka Studio Connect – Driven and Reviewed

The Mk1 Ford Ka - an icon

The Mk1 Ford Ka – an icon

Rust issues aside, Ford‘s first generation Ka was a huge (if slightly unexpected) success story. It combined inexpensive costs with quirky looks and a fantastic driving experience, even spawning a hot-hatch and two-seater convertible versions in the guise of the nattily-named SportKa and StreetKa (why the latter was never sold as a ‘Desire’ special edition, I’ll never know!).

What we have here is the second generation Ka in Studio Connect guise, now built by Fiat alongside their 500 model, with which it shares many components. Ford recently announced  plans for the third generation Ka which appears to share nothing but a name with previous models, so what should they carry over from the existing Ka, and what should they ditch?

ka-image-1Sales of the 2nd gen Ka have been disappointing for Ford, and I can’t help but assume this is mainly due to the look of the thing. The original model arrived before the raft of quirky superminis that are on offer today, cars such as the Mini and Fiat 500, but even today, it’s different enough to be instantly recognisable in the crowd. Not so this generation. I spoke to scores of people about my test car and the I consistently heard the same thing – “I didn’t think Ford even made the Ka anymore”. Obviously incorrectly assumed extinction isn’t good news when trying to sell a car, but it’s just too anonymous and similar to it’s sister car  – the universally popular Fiesta. It’s not ugly, that would be unfair,  but in such a competitive market, it needs more individuality to appeal to its young, fashion conscious target audience.

ka-image-2When it comes down to  engines, the Ka comes with a selection of one. It’s called the 1.2 Duratec but in reality, it’s a renamed version of Fiat’s 1.2l unit. I can’t help but feel that the Ka is stuck between a rock and a hard place here – being built by Fiat, Ford’s excellent range of diminutive EcoBoost engines aren’t at their disposal. Unfortunately though, Fiat obviously weren’t prepared to offer their impressive TwinAir or Diesel engines for the Ka either, leaving it lumbered with this 69ps unit. This is an old-fashioned engine, and unfortunately it shows; It feels sluggish, lumpy and uninspiring in pretty much all situations, and it’s figures don’t compensate for this lack of performance either. 0-62mph in 13.4 seconds actually feels a tad optimistic ,and 115g/km Co2, coupled with 57.7mpg combined just don’t cut it when so many alternatives have been launched recently.

Things don’t get much better inside either, I’m afraid. I don’t expect high-grade plastics, or anything high-grade in this price bracket for that matter, but even when only paying the relatively meagre sum of £8-£10K, I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t provided with central locking and electric windows. The lack of standard equipment could possibly be forgiven if it weren’t for some other irritating features, such as the Fiat sourced indicator stalks that refuse to operate if the car’s being steered around certain bends, and if they do relent and perform the task they were invented for, they self cancel the second the steering wheel starts returning to straight ahead. Infuriating.

ka-image-6One aspect of the Ka that’s a pleasant surprise is the room you get inside. Yes, anyone on the loftier side of average will probably feel a little strained after a long journey behind the wheel, but that’s not really what the Ka is designed for. The rear seat space isn’t bad at all, even with the front seats inhabited, and the head-room on offer is a lot more spacious than you’d imagine. Boot space is an area often overlooked on cars in this segment, but this is one area where the Ka really shines. At 244 litres in 4 seat mode, it’ll fit quite a few shopping bags in without putting the rear seats down and when you consider that the New Mini’s boot is 30% larger than the previous model, and that’s still only 211 litres, you get the picture.

The all-new Ford Ka

The all-new Ford Ka

From the images we’ve seen so-far of the new Ka model, it’s unrecognisable next to all previous incarnations including this one, and it’s not hard to see why. The Ka seems to have fallen between two hugely lucrative stools in recent times; on one hand there’s the premium superminis – Mini, 500 etc – these are definitely more expensive than the Ka but they offer a driving experience and a customisable look that the Ford could only dream about. On the other hand, there are cars such as the Kia’s Picanto and Hyundai’s i10 – not only are they cheaper to purchase but the standard equipment they’re provided with puts the Ka to shame. Even similarly priced models such as the Citigo/Up!/Mii offer a certain personality that’s sadly missing in the Ka.

When you find a great recipe, as Ford did with the original Ka, it’s very tempting to drag it out, sometime beyond it’s shelf-life. Unfortunately though, when the competition’s products supersede your own, it’s time to move on. This is very much the case with the Ka and by the looks of the new model, Ford have come to this conclusion too.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Ford Ka Studio Connect, Engine – 1.2l Duratec petrol, Transmission – 5 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 69bhp, Torque – 102Nm, Emissions – 115g/km CO2, Economy – 57.7 mpg, Maximum Speed – 99mph, Acceleration – 13.4s 0-62mph, Price – £9,925 OTR, £10,415 as tested

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