The Ka FreeStyle (Ka+ Active in Europe), developed first in Brazil has enough tweaks to suggest the owner has an adventurous lifestyle but is relatively discreet compared to the avalanche of pseudo-suvs on the Brazilian market and now spilling over into Europe (Ford has also launched Fiesta and Focus Active models).
In Brazilian specification, the FreeStyle's 18.8cm (7.4 in.) ground clearance is highlighted by the textured dull black cladding running through full body length, including sides and wheel arches. The styled honeycomb-shaped front grille is specially painted in pearl gray. Front and rear bumpers are ornamented with appliques. External rear view mirror housings are also painted in pearl gray. There is also a roof rack with a 50kg (110lb) load capacity.
The interior has exclusive colour matching with black roof lining and dashboard in dark brown and black. This colouring is also applied to the console frame and door trims. Seats are upholstered in leather and fabric.
Unlike the model recently launched in UK (1.2 five-speed), the Brazilian Ka FreeStyle introduces the new Dragon 1.5 Ti-VCT Flex three cylinder engine, with the highest naturally aspirated power and torque in the segment developing 134bhp (on ethanol) and 157.9Nm. It is also remarkably smooth. The new six-speed automatic gearbox, the Ford 6F15 SelecShift with integrated torque converter has replaced the troublesome Ford/Getrag JV PowerShift DCT. The MX65 five-speed manual is also completely new. It is lighter and more compact, very quiet and even reverse gear is synchronised.
Ford took the opportunity to refine other Ka aspects as well. The body has been reinforced to improve both torsional stiffness and safety. The model was uprated from zero to three stars in crash tests.
Newly-calibrated suspension is a highlight of this new FreeStyle version. Cabin quietness was greatly improved by the fitting of an acoustic windshield glass.
The SYNC 3 multimedia connectivity has improved. The 6.5in tactile floating screen favours readability and use. It is accompanied by two, illuminated USB outlets in the console.
The manual gearbox Ka FreeStyle retails for BRL63,490/US$15,900 in Brazil and the BRL67,990/$17,000.
Counting in the other sedan and saloon versions, the Ka line is now Brazil's second top selling car.
European versions are built in India.
Everyone Active: Ford Europe gets into small pseudo-SUVs