Did Ford originally have bigger plans for Ka? Evidence suggests they might.
Following ur-Ka’s launch in 1996, there was speculation that Ford had plans to expand Ka as a stand-alone sub-marque, perhaps along similar lines to General Motors in the US when they created the Saturn brand in 1990. Certainly, the manner in which Ka was introduced to the public suggested this was a Ford for people who wouldn’t normally buy Fords.
Further speculative ammunition comes in the form of this – the 1998 Turing KA concept by carrozzeria Ghia, which essentially answered the prayers of anyone who needed a five-door Ka shooting brake in their life. To be fair, it’s rather attractive and demonstrates not only that Ka’s styling cues could support a larger architecture but also that Ford did appear to have had ambitions beyond simply making a funky city car.
Ford arguably made one key error with production-Ka and that was making it a cheap car. Previously masters of personalisation, had they the foresight to initiate such a programme, in addition to a decent range of engines – (particularly a smaller capacity petrol and a diesel option) – ur-Ka could have been a far more compelling proposition. But would a five-door hatch version sold? Again, with the right engines and specs, I suspect it would. But either way, a question remains as to how much traction an entire range of Ka’s would have had in the marketplace.
Ultimately, Ford did expand the Ka outwards, offering the Pininfarina-assembled StreetKa roadster alongside the hot-hatch SportKa model and of course the well-regarded Puma Coupé ran alongside until 2001 – a model which perhaps would have made more sense as part of the Ka family.
In all likelihood, Ford’s rather tentative, scattergun approach to ur-Ka hobbled any chances it had of spawning a wider range of cars, but this concept, if nothing else, does suggest at least one alternative reality.