Cute Ford Ka full of character

The second-generation Ford Ka is easy to drive and own, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

Engines – Alongside the 1.2-litre petrol engine, from launch the Ka was also available with a 1.3-litre diesel motor. Both units perform well and the latter is pleasingly refined. Neither turn the Ka into a mini GTI though, but the greater torque of the latter can be helpful when the car is loaded.

Exterior – Not quite the logical design extension of its predecessor that some had hoped for, this second-generation Ka's looks are more in keeping with the appearance of its stablemates such as the Focus and Fiesta. Three-door only, its upright stance is a departure from the old car's squat looks too.

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Interior – In another departure from the old car, this Ka boasts a more upright fascia and the manual gearlever is much closer to hand. Being a city car the cabin isn't going to be the widest, but two adults can be accommodated in reasonable comfort. The quality of the materials used throughout are good and look like they'd easily cope with stresses and strains of urban life.

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Driving – If you didn't know already, Ford second-generation Ka was a joint venture with Fiat, with the Italian company donating its 500 platform and Ford's engineers fine-tuning it to their liking. The result is a car with a noticeable bias more towards comfort than rewarding the driver, although in town the car's light controls and good forward visibility are a welcome bonus. Petrol power appears to be the way to go here thanks to the unit's keen throttle response, making it ideal for urban sprints.

Ownership – With its proven mechanicals, distinctive looks and practical cabin, there's a lot to like about the Ka. Also, its Blue Oval badge is your ticket to the services of a comprehensive dealer network. An easy car to drive and own, it's small enough to park anywhere but big enough inside to accommodate two adults up front and a reasonable amount of luggage. With the option of both petrol and diesel power it's economical to boot.

What to look for – Being a car focused on the urban community it's not unreasonable to see a few battle scars. Parking dents, kerbed wheels and the odd scrape aren't uncommon, although it's what you're comfortable with that counts. However, make sure the damage isn't hiding any more serious neglect – rust, wonky steering, poorly-repaired crash damage. Realistically, something this new should be squeaky clean, and so should the paperwork.

Model history – 2008, after a long first innings, Ford replaces its original Ka with a new model developed with assistance from Fiat. Still a three-door compact hatchback, engine choice has doubled to include both a petrol and diesel unit. Modest standard kit is supplemented by Mini-like styling upgrades.

Reasons to buy – Low running cost, brand name security, ease of use.

Reasons to beware – Urban cars often experience a hard life, not much room in the back, keen drivers should look elsewhere.

Pick of the range – Ka 1.2 Style.

What to pay – 2008 58 �5,000; 2009 09 �5,430; 2009 59 �5,700; 2010 10 �6,280; 2010 60 �6,550. Showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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