New Ford Ka driven

* Price: From £7995 * On sale: January * Our verdict average in every area...

New Ford Ka driven

With the Ford Ka based on the same platform and built at the same factory as the cool car of the moment, the Fiat 500, and benefiting from some Ford tweaks to improve ride and handling, the right ingredients are all there for another sales winner.

Great expectations don't guarantee a good product, though.

If they're not met or exceeded then the disappointment is all the greater and, sadly, that's exactly the impression the new Ka leaves.

It's not a bad car in any area, but its heritage makes you think it should be at least one step ahead of the crowd.

Most disappointingly, the drive is jittery around town, and you feel every bump on the motorway.

The steering is light, handling fine, and the gear change slick, but none are exceptional. Given Ford's reputation in these areas, it's a real let down.

So, too, is the amount of wind noise on the motorway, and to a lesser degree the engine noise.

That said, the 69bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine we tried was willing enough to keep up with the flow in town and on open roads.

In the cabin

You can get comfortable in the cabin, although seat adjustment is restricted and all of the surfaces are rock hard.

The boot space is good, although compromised by a high lip and the chunky headlights that cut into the opening.

Folding the rear seats flat is also easy once the headrests are lowered, thanks to a simple pull lever.

The dashboard layout and use of bright interior colours brightens things up, and the cavernous glovebox is great, as it doesn't compromise legroom at all.

There's just about enough space for four adults, although small rear windows and a slightly sloping roofline do make it a little claustrophobic in the back.

The new Ka is a dramatically different car from its predecessor but, unless you've fallen in love with its styling, it impresses in too few areas to challenge the best in class.

If you're in the market for a cute small car, we'd still head down to the Fiat dealer.

Ford KaYou'll like: Fun, frugal, cheap
You won't: Ride, handling, wind noise