Mid-cycle facelift enhances fuel economy, adds practicality

Launched back in 1996 as the company’s smallest vehicle, slotted under the popular Fiesta, the Ford Ka+ was redesigned in 2014. Four years later and the tiny hatchback is getting its mid-cycle refresh with new styling cues and updated technology. But unlike most facelifts, the Ka also gained a much-needed diesel engine and a crossover-inspired model. Design changes are pretty much what you’d expect from a mild facelift. The headlamps are slightly larger; the grille was revised and gained a new chrome frame, while the rear features chrome taillight detailing and C-shaped moldings at each corner of the bumper.

Inside, there’s a revised dashboard that looks clean and crisp, plus some new tech. Highlights include a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Sync3 infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated windscreen. Automatic climate control and parking sensors are available as options. Under the hood, the Ka+ continues with the familiar 1.2-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine. The unit is rated at either 70 or 85 PS (69 or 84 horsepower), depending on trim. The big news is the addition of a diesel engine for the European market. But more about that and the new Active version below.

Continue reading for the full story.

Finally, a Diesel for the Ka+

Ford Reveals Updated Ka+; Adds Crossover Model and Diesel Engine Exterior
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The mid-cycle update brings a new diesel powerplant to European dealerships

The mid-cycle update brings a new diesel powerplant to European dealerships. The unit in question is the familiar 1.5-liter four-cylinder that’s already available in the Fiesta and Focus. The turbodiesel isn’t exactly new to the Ka+, having been offered in India since 2014, but it’s the first time this model gets an oil burner on the European market. The unit is rated at 95 PS and 215 Nm of torque (94 horsepower and 159 pound-feet), which makes it the most powerful engine available with the new Ka+.

The mill delivers maximum torque from as low as 1,750 rpm and features an optimized combustion chamber design, new fuel injection, and Smart Regenerative Charging for improved fuel economy. Mileage figures aren’t yet available, but Ford did say that CO2 emissions are estimated from 99 g/km. Just like the gas engines, the diesel mates to a new five-speed manual transmission with Teflon-coated internals and low-friction bearings for improved shifting and refinement, and enhanced fuel economy.

New Crossover-Inspired Trim

Ford Reveals Updated Ka+; Adds Crossover Model and Diesel Engine Exterior
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Called Ka+ Active, the new trim adds a bit of ruggedness to the tiny hatchback

Another big highlight is actually a brand-new model. Called Ka+ Active, the new trim adds a bit of ruggedness to the tiny hatchback. It’s basically a competitor for the Hyundai i20, adding a raised ride height and extra cladding to the bumpers and wheel arches to the familiar design. The Ka+ Active is the second Active model after the Fiesta Active, set to go on sale later this year, so Ford is looking to expand to into this niche with hatchbacks that deliver enhanced practicality.

But it’s more than just a perched-up Ka+. It features a unique front sub-frame and suspensions components, both optimized for European roads, improved sound proofing, a wider track, and a larger anti-roll bar up front. The steering was also optimized for crossover-like handling, while the retuned dampers deliver a smoother ride over harsh surfaces.

A Couple of Good Ideas

Ford Reveals Updated Ka+; Adds Crossover Model and Diesel Engine Exterior
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The new diesel engine is the best idea Ford could've had for the Ka+.

The new diesel engine is the best idea Ford could’ve had for the Ka+. It should’ve happened years earlier in Europe, where diesels are incredibly popular. The diesel-powered Fiestas and Focuses are selling like hotcakes, and I’m pretty sure that the Ka+ with the diesel option will soon become the most popular of the range. Not only in big markets like Great Britain and Germany but in emerging countries from Central and Easter Europe too.

The Ka+ Active is also a brilliant idea for emerging markets. While European highway and main roads are smooth as a baby’s bottom, local roads aren’t as good in most Central and Easter Europe, or the Balkans. So the Active’s higher ground clearance will come in handy in those parts of the continent. Coupled with the compact size that’s perfect for crowded cities, the fuel-efficient diesel engine, and the affordable sticker, the Ka+ Active has everything it needs to become a thing in some markets.

References

Ford Ka

2016 Ford Ka+ High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Ka+.

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