Sunday, March 3, 2013

The new Ford KA... Boy I miss the URGLY brilliant old Ka

As with most cars on sale today, the new ford Ka is a beautiful looking thing.
However unlike most cars today, this evolution means a leap back in quality.
When I drove the car, I was immediately disappointed with it. At the time I really didn't understood why, but it just fell un-involving, disconnected....plain cheap.

You see, I've driven the old Ka a couple of times, but more important, I drove it's big brother the Fiesta MK4 for years...and they were practically the same.

Let's make a big X ray. of the projects supporting the Ka, first:
Back in 1989, Ford unveiled the BE-13 chassis on the 3rd generation ford fiesta.
The BE-13 was an important step in terms of chassis engineering. Most people forget the simple fact that during MK2 fiesta was comparable to a facelift of the MK1 Fiesta. In both Mk1/2, Ford had to undergo some heavy reinforcement engineering when they decided to launch the XR versions for the boy-racers. That was taken into consideration while developing the Mk3 chassis. 
Not perfect, the BE-13 was competent and involving. 

1995 came and the BE91 chassis with it. This is an important mark in Fords history. The BE91 was used first in the Mk4 fiesta and was essentially the Mk3 (BE-13 chassis) with revised suspension. It quickly became the best in its class, but more important, it just added to the Ford brand a distinctive signature of driving pleasure that just wasn't there as an experience to the entire brand (it used to be just a couple of model property). It just felt like Ford had unleashed their engineering team from the rally world and allowed them input into every other was just wonderful.

The most important thing about this chassis, was the fact that, due to its brilliance, it was widely used. The BE91 was the basis of:
The MK4 Fiesta and The MK5 Fiesta

The Mk1 Ka 

The Mk1 Ford Fusion

 The Mk1 Ford Puma

The Mk1 and Mk2 Ford Courier

 and the Mazda 121!!!

This spawning of projects bases on this chassis is not only a proof of versatility. The Puma was a small-sports concept, the Fiesta Techno has a sporty appeal to it, the Mk5 Fiesta had spiced-up ST versions and they all fell involving and responsive.
I drove the Mk4 Fiesta from 1997 to 2004. The car was probably the best driving experience for money I've had so far. I even took it to the track and establish a point of matter against 2 tuned Mk4 Golf TDi, a tuned Peugeot 307 Gti and an alfa that was trying very hard not to self disassemble while not rusting from bend to bend...and of course that left no room to maintain braking ability. All the cars (tuned or non tuned) gave up and parked after 2 laps (most after some scary handling issues) mostly without brakes. This is arguably due to being badly equipped, or simply badly balanced chassis, forcing them to use the brakes more often...the mk4 Fiesta equipped with nothing more that tarox front discs and kevlar front brake pads, recorded over 12 laps and 3 of them were even video-taped and are available on youtube.
So regarding the BE91 chassis, I can say that I know it like the back of my hands.

So that was the great big disappointment on the first meters I drove the MK2 Ka... I felt No BE91... or none of it's evolutions... I felt lack of what has been branding Ford since 1995.

You see, The Mk4 fiesta was Ugly. The Mk1 Ka was even worse... I mean if the fiesta looked like a soap, the Ka would only make sense in Tokyo, and even there, it would not live to be cool for more than a week.
I was very critic about the Ka design... and the new one is just as beautiful as a Fiesta, with in turn is just as beautiful as a Focus.

 These are the Mk6...

...and Mk7 Fiestas

And the Mk2 Ka:
 Is just beautiful.

I mean compare the Mk1 with the Mk2 (on the design side alone):
 There is no other way to say this... the old is UGLY and the new one is BEAUTIFUL. 

The problem is that the looks, are nice when you show off, or when you approach the car. But when you drive it, they have no part in the rewarding experience...and regarding the rewarding experience the Mk2 is just BAD! Cheap! Plastic! Un-involving! It's one of the worse ford's I've driven and that included old transits!

The one to blame? Meet the Barbie Car:
Yup.. That's it! A brand known for creating robust and involving cars, took one of the best chassis it has ever created and replaced with the barbie car, from the brand known for un-involving, everything but robust cars.

The minute I knew this, it all made sense. I know why I would never ever buy a Mk2 ford Ka...its because of the lack of Ford in it!