Blog: Why minimalism is cool

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

blogka_01Ford’s KA: it’s not new, not that clever, and it has been around for a long time. So why mention it here? Well, it has been my chariot for the day, and I have to say that it took no time at all to grow on me…

So, why would a bottom of the range sub B sector car impress, when my current flavour of the month is the MG ZT? I guess it comes down to one important factor: fun. The KA may not be quick, but in the important areas such as steering feel, handling, roadholding and gearchange, it is really hard to fault. In fact, faulting it was far from mind, when punting it around the local back lanes. Yes, it was actually a great deal of fun. The steering is almost go-kart quick and the turn-in is swift; you even get a hint of old-school Peugeot-style lift-off oversteer. What a laugh.

Driving it along the motorway exposes no real faults either – it buzzes along easily at at the national limit on the motorway, with the ancient engine almost inaudible. OK, there is a fair degree of road and wind noise, but not enough to put me off going down to the South of France in it. Nothing at all…

And that made me wonder…

Was it this car’s fun or its minimalism that endeared itself to me? The dynamics helped, for sure, but I think it came down to the fact that I felt like I was beating the system in this little thing. Bombing up the motorway, surrounded by the plethora of German execs, I didn’t feel the car was out of its depth: we were going the same speed as everyone else, and yet, it’ll have been costing me significantly less to do so. It helped me understand why it seems that all Southern Europeans like driving small cars. Because they can. The KA was out of context on the M1, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it would fit right in around Northern Spain or Southern France. All I would need to do is remove the wheeltrims and add a few dents, and it would be perfect Mediterranean “yoof” transportation.

I found myself smiling driving this car, and that makes it alright in my book.

It also had me wondering about the CityRover. Apparently, these cars are rivals. Certainly on price. Although on paper the CityRover murders the Ford. Advantages to the Bollywood Rover come easily: it’s faster, roomer, arguably more stylish and has a much higher quality exterior paint finish. Interior build quality of both is not that great: both have non-soft-feel plastics that was perfectly good enough until Volkswagen rolled soft-feel across its entire range (and yet it is MGR that gets lambasted whilst Ford gets off scott free).

So why is it so fashionable to attack the CityRover right now, when Uncle Henry’s baby is inferior in so many ways?

I guess it comes down to marketing. Whereas MGR seem to have tried very hard to position the CityRover as some kind of poor-man’s 45, the KA is unashamedly marketed as a baby car for the young. Importantly, the Ford is fun to drive, whereas the CityRover is not quite there (it’s gearchange and steering really need tweaking). So, should MG Rover have introduced it with lower list prices, given it cheerier trim and added funky detailing to appeal to the younger people that buy KAs?

Looking at how CityRover has performed thus far, it is obvious that MGR have not got it right so far.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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