The new Ford Ka is such model that is not included in Ford's drive to import compact, fuel-efficient automobiles from Europe to America, at least for the time being.

Only the Smart In even is now smaller than the Ka in the United States, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally admits that a 142.5-inch-long 4 might be going too far in his pursuit of fuel-efficient automobiles.

Since 1998, Ford of Europe has offered the Ka as its entry-level vehicle; the name is derived from an old Egyptian god, despite sounding infantile.

Ford's facility in Valencia, Spain, has produced 1.4 million Kas in the last ten years, but over that time, the hub for low-cost European auto manufacturing shifted outside of western Europe.

Ford was unable to make the math work when it came time to replace the Ka. It looked for a partnership with a company that had the eastern European plant that Ford lacked.

Provide it with your own equipment, then purchase the final Fiat model. At the Fiat factory in Tychy, Poland, the new Ka would be produced beside the 500 and the Panda.

As a result, the Ka features no Ford hardware—aside from a few suspension components—and only Fiat engines and transmissions.

So the Ka is now a Fiat with "badge engineering"? Ford quickly shot back saying neither the exterior design nor the driving dynamics of the two vehicles would be similar. 

However, Ford of Europe keeps its word. First, the styling: Without being informed, you would not have guessed that the Ka and the 500 were related.

The Ka is wedgy, chubby, and bloated in some places, like the new Fiesta as seen in a fun-house mirror.

The Ka is a more mature-feeling vehicle than the 500, and its 68-hp, 1.2-liter gas engine makes it a more tranquil vehicle for extended trips.

Ford deems the Ka to be more popular, but it has nevertheless included several big-car luxuries to its list of optional features, such as heated seats and a windscreen

The Ka's starting price of $12,250 in the UK is actually only $1,000 less than that of the more capable and roomier Fiesta.