Drive: Streetka to Cardiff

Take the air with Kylie's new squeeze

Melanie Bien
Tuesday 01 October 2013 05:05

Ford Streetka Luxury 1.6i £13,745
Acceleration: 0-62mph 12.1sec
Maximum speed: 108mph
Average fuel consumption: 35.8mpg
Insurance group: 7

One of the most hyped convertibles launched this summer is the Streetka, advertised by none other than the Princess of Pop, Ms Kylie Minogue. But despite this celebrity endorsement, would it live up to the hype? After all, we're talking about a model based on Ford's cheapo runabout, the Ka.

The Streetka is designed for nipping about the city, so the first thing I did was head for the motorway. OK, I was off to Cardiff for the weekend, but it's always good to test a car out of its natural habitat. Would we be buffeted about on the M4? As it turned out, no. Because it is light and has a 1.6-litre engine, the Streetka is quick, which is good for the motorway, but not so light that your bones rattle each time you hit a pothole. In fact, the suspension was surprisingly good for a car of its size and weight.

The steering did what it was told, the five-speed manual gearbox was smooth, and the Streetka emerged from corners as easily as it approached them.

Best of all, the sun was shining. This two-seater roadster looks much better with the roof down rather than up; it is transformed into an Audi TT wannabe at a fraction of the price.

Retracting the roof is fairly straightforward, but it would have been so much easier had Ford made the process fully automatic, as it is with most convertibles these days. Here's the drill: you release the latches, get out, push a button and release a compartment in front of the boot; finally, you fold the roof into this and slam it shut. Then - and only then - will you get to feel the wind your hair.

The separate storage compartment means that boot space isn't compromised - we easily stowed a couple of bags plus extra paraphernalia for our weekend away, and we don't travel light.

I also loved the centrally mounted reversing light, which is not only stylish but makes your intentions abundantly clear to others. Note to other manufacturers: if you only supply one reversing light, why not plonk it in the middle?

Having driven the car for several hours, I can see why Kylie was chosen to promote it; drivers and passengers who are taller or more generously proportioned than Ms Minogue could find the limited space a little uncomfortable, particularly on a longer journey.

The driver's footwell is particularly crowded, with no room next to the clutch to rest your foot while on the motorway. As a result, your leg is bent all the time, which is downright uncomfortable after several hours.

On shorter journeys this is not such a problem, and the Streetka proved adept at driving round Cardiff's busy streets. It is refreshingly easy to park because it is so compact, but visibility can be a bit limited if the roof is up.

The Streetka costs more than Ford initially hinted, but at £12,945 for the entry-level version, rising to £13,745 for the Luxury model, it won't break the bank. The latter comes with heated seats, a height-adjustable passenger seat and air conditioning.

The Streetka is a real head-turner, although admittedly most of those heads were female rather than male. Maybe it's a bit girly for the boys: a car for the petite feminine type rather than strapping six-footers.

But be prepared for a lot of cheap plastic in the cabin whichever model you choose; there's no danger of forgetting that they are related to the Ka.

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