The start point for the best source of fleet information
It seems that our obsession with SUVs and crossovers knows no bounds. If you think that's an exaggeration, check-out Ford's Ka+ Active.
Air conditioning, cruise control, SYNC 3 connectivity, 17in alloys
Let's face it, despite the butch image, SUVs and crossovers are more about making a splash on the high street than mud-slinging up the Orinoco in South America.
The Ford Ka+ Active may have a 23mm-raised ride height compared with the standard Ka+, softer springs, chunky alloy wheels and black plastic wheel-arch mouldings, but really, avoiding the kerbs at the McDonald's drive-in will probably be the most hazardous journey it ever undertakes.
However, it appears to be a pretty tough cookie on the inside, with loads of robust plastics and plenty of all-weather mats. These are ideal accoutrements if users have children that are inclined to make a mess in the back seat; it will also seem like a bonus if you're regularly tasked with hoovering up the dog's moulting fur. Of course, 'robust' can easily be translated as 'cheap'.
Yes, the Active has its glitzy adornments, including splashes of chrome for the door-release handles and air vents, Active- embossed scuff plates, a leather steering wheel and some candy-striped, pyjama-style seat fabric. These embellishments aside, the vast majority of cabin plastics feel rock hard, and Ford has been pretty abrasive with these, so you might want to steer clear of aggressive cornering manoeuvres for fear of grazing your elbows against the door panels.
Speaking of cornering, the Active is fun to drive. Its inherent 'Fordness' - including the dynamic excellence that the brand is famous for - may be somewhat diluted compared with the sweet-driving Fiesta and Focus models, but the Ka+ Active is still a reasonably engaging charge.
Its steering is good, tackling the crazed back roads of Milton Keynes - and its myriad roundabouts - with plenty of confidence and generally going exactly where you point it.
Despite not being turbocharged, and having relatively mild performance, the diminutive 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine rarely feels overawed.
It pulls smoothly enough from low revs and it's surprisingly flexible; even so, you'd be well advised to stay away from the higher numbers on the rev counter, as it does get pretty flustered and vocal beyond 4,000rpm.
That said, the general hubbub produced by the engine pales into insignificance next to the exhorbitant levels of road and wind noise, in particular, at higher speeds. If you value your eardrums, you'd be better off catching the modern equivalent of the Flying Scotsman locomotive, rather than drive all the way to Edinburgh in Ford's screaming car.
Perhaps we'd be less inclined to whinge if the Active were priced more attractively. When you consider it starts at £5 short of £13,000 and there are excellent cars, such as the Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10, that can be had for less than £10,000 - granted, neither of these comes with black body cladding and roof rails - it's all the more difficult to forgive the Active's vulgarity.At least you get a fair bit of metal for your money.
There is a decent amount of head and legroom in the back, so you shouldn't have to endure too many uncomfortanble journeys. There's also a decent-sized boot complete with 40/60 split-fold rear seat backs, so that's the weekly big-shop taken care of.
As for kit, the Active comes with remote central locking, electric front windows, air conditioning and cruise control, plus voice control via steering-wheel-mounted buttons to activate Ford's SYNC 3 system, which includes a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB port.
When it comes to running costs, the Active's official combined fuel consumption of 49.6mpg doesn't look particularly impressive next to the similarly powerful Kia Picanto's 61.4mpg. Additionally, the Ford's 129g/km CO2 output gives it a 26% BIK rating - and that's 4% points higher than the cheaper Kia.Throw the Kia's seven-year 100,000-mile warranty into the mix and, compared with Ford's three-year 60,000-mile cover, you can probably guess where our money would go.