Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The SportKa...

Yeah, we know, you already knew you could get a Ka for under £2k. Actually you can get one for around £1.65 if you look around. That'd be a normal, hum-drum, Mum-spec, tape-player-equipped, cloth trimmed version though, propelled by a clattery Kent-derived 1.3 engine. One a bit like this...



Urm...BORING!

No, what we have here is the SportKa, the Ka's better looking, sporty, metallic, leather-clad, shouty 'Evil Twin' as Ford would have us believe...



It looks kind of, well, like a normal Ka actually. It's got a bit of a bodykit and some nice wheels, but that seems to be it. It can't be that evil can it? Urm...



...yes, yes it can. Poor pigeon.

It's not really that mean. We wouldn't let you, our dear reader, drive a car that goes around exercising a bonnet-clouting interest in ornithology. Plus it's just a car, and cars can't be mean. Well, there was a Triumph Dolomite we once had that we swear was possessed, but that's another story.

Anyway, the SportKa. It was introduced in 2003 in a bid to both freshen up and diversify the by then seven-year-old Ka range. The demographic was no longer the 25-40 year old female or retired couple; with the SportKa Ford were going for the youth market in a big way. There was a convertible version too which went by the name of the StreetKa. Curiously the latter was treated to a scantily clad Kylie Minogue for its advertising campaign, not a concussed pigeon...



Both cars were treated to lavish advertising campaigns, but it was the SportKa which had the most fun with its cheeky and amusing 'Evil Twin' tag-line. The goal was to separate it from the 'normal' Ka as much as possible. Ford wanted it to be cheeky, exciting and most of all, recognisable in its own right. Crucially though, it had to appeal to those young drivers with money to burn!

By 2003 the Ka had developed a nasty reputation for being built from metal that would dissolve faster than an Alka Seltzer once it saw moisture, so not only was the SportKa an attempt to capture the youth market, it was also a means to put some strength back into the Ka name. They were good cars after all, if a little rust-prone. By 2003 though, Ford had found the Waxoyl, putting to good use on building cars that would still be in one piece after a heavy downpour.

The SportKa was a success from the off. It had shaken the cutesy image of its more civilised brother, leaving it to stand alone as a viable 'hot hatch' in its own right. As is usually the case with a new 'hot' Ford though, a trick was missed when it came down to the engine. The SportKa's propulsion came from a 1.6 (ooooh) 8 valve 'Duratec' with a whopping 93hp. Not the sportiest of any engines by any stretch, resulting in a car that was 'nippy' at best. They could have gone for something bigger, but that would have made it harder for the very select demographic to insure. The final and somewhat tame engine didn't matter though, speed wasn't where this car would succeed, handling on the other hand...



Yup, driving one of these suckers is like driving a go-kart on steroids. Point it where you want to go, stomp the gas and off it goes. It's got all the grip you could want along with bucket-loads of feedback. You really feel like you're part of the drive in a SportKa, not merely a passenger. With a wheel at each corner it's a right giggle to hoon around the lanes or the city. Hell, even the local multi-storey will be a hoot in one of these! A smile is guaranteed every time you jump in and turn the key, we promise! The best for us has to be the fact that driving a SportKa makes you feel like a 17 year old again! Driving one of these makes you fall in love with that urban, nippy driving all over again, the kind we all came to know and love when we first passed our test. Just don't take one to MacDonalds and do handbrake turns in the car park in a bid to impress 16 year-old girls. You won't actually be 17, you'll just feel 17. No one will think you're cool, they'll just laugh at you and call you old.

So there it is, now all you need to now is buy one, like this...



There are down sides though. Firstly, the SportKa is small enough to lose in a crowd of toddlers, as such it's not one for the larger driver, and while it has back seats we suggest any potential passengers remove both their head and their legs before getting in if they plan to fit. They can't put them in the boot though, it's not big enough. You might get a biro in there though, or a Baby Bell. Another big thing to consider is that while it's a 7 year old car for under £2k, it's also a Ford, and even though this particular model was screwed together in Italy, it wasn't screwed together very well. Expect the door to fall off at any given moment. Italians don't build their own cars particularly well, so what chance would a Ford have?

Unattached doors aside, the SportKa is a blinding little machine, and by far the newest we've featured here. It's fun, cheap, modern, economical and a fierce hater of pigeons. If that's not £2k well spent, we don't know what is!