Seeing as it's already mid-November I am willing to admit that Summer is officially over! Therefore it really is time that my little (very) yellow StreetKa belonged to somebody else!
So what did I think of this little thing? Well, this is a re-visit to me as I've had one before, and to be honest, they are good! Unless that is, that you are after something that is practical, in which case, they are bad! But I wasn't, I wanted something fun and cheap, and the StreetKa couldn't fill those requirements better, if fun and cheap are your thing, then the StreetKa is the way forward! The documents proudly proclaim that mine is a Ford Street Ka, LUXURY and the luxury bit is actually in upper case text! Heres some pictures of my luxurious leather interior.
Now, in my opinion whoever decided that this was luxury had obviously never had anything luxurious in their life, and was probably driving a mk2 Escort, and in comparison this IS luxurious against a mk2 Escort. But put it against literally anything created this century, luxurious it is not. But thats fine, because if I want my ass to be transported in luxury there is still this...
Yes, the mighty Jaguar V8! Opposite ends of the spectrum to the StreetKa, but thats fine. The Jaguar was designed with luxury in mind, and the StreetKa was designed for fun! Besides because its not as luxurious as the Jaguar doesn't mean it's bad, it isn't bad at all! I mean I've got a chunky steering wheel, CD player, electric windows, comfy leather seats, leather inserts on the doors, aaaand a rather natty aluminium gear knob! But, this is all pretty much standard equipment on any car produced this century. Being a luxury model at the very least I should be able to raise and lower the hood at the touch of a button, and not have to stop the car, get out, and do it manually. To be fair though, it's not that hard, and I've now got to a point with it that I can raise and lower the roof without even getting out of the driving seat! Mind you, to be honest, luxury is not what this car is about. Nobody in their right mind goes out and buys a Ka in the thought that it's going to be a luxurious car, Nobody! It's about an almost raw driving experience, blasting along the road with the roof down and the wind in your hair (Or if you're like me, the wind in your scalp!) It's a fun car, not a comfortable, cosseting, luxurious cruiser. It makes me smile every time I go and get in it, it's an absolute hoot to drive! It's also worth remembering that when the Street Ka was launched in 2002 at the Paris Motorshow it was the diminutive antipodean Kylie Minogue who did the unveiling.
Does Kylie look luxurious? No she doesn't, does she look like fun? Yes, yes she does, and if it's good enough for Kylie, then it's good enough for me! This really would be A StreetKa named Desire, I also realise that Ms Minogue is only 34 in the photos but think it's fair to say that 15 years on, she's still quite a good looking woman. Kylie Minogue on the bonnet of my Street Ka... I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky! Anyhoo, other things that immediately came to my attention upon buying not only this Street Ka, but also my previous Ka's is that there is no question in my mind that this is a girls car. I say this because of this.
A complete lack of instrumentation. I realise that it's got a rev counter, ooh yeah... Sporty! But that is it. Where are all the other gauges, what the hecks going on under that bonnet? I've had vans with more gauges than this! I have heard it said that the dash on the Street Ka is the thing that really lets it's interior down as it is the same as the original Ka, and is an old design dating back to the first of the Ka's which were introduced on 11 September 1996 as a small and low-cost addition to the Ford range. The functional, basic, look doesn't live up to the promise of the exterior styling.
But I disagree with that, it is the same old dash, that's for sure, but it's fun a quirky design still looks interesting, and continues to suit the updated looks of the exterior bodywork. I like how it looks, it's fun, I still love that odd little oval clock with it's mis-matched hands, it's cool. The only thing is for me I'd like to have a few more gauges in the dashboard. I think this would make it feel a bit sportier, but you need to remember that this is a car that was designed and built to be cheap enough to be bought by a single girl about town, which is who it is aimed at, hence the lack of proper information provided by gauges, and instead a rather impressive bank of idiot lights! Still not to worry, the interior is not a bad place to be, the leather seats are quite supportive, and are big enough to be comfortable even after a long drive. I would also say that there is probably a bit more room than the original tin top Ka, which also helps raise the comfort levels of a long drive as I like to stretch out a bit, I can't stand being huddled up behind the wheel! The pedals are a bit close together for my liking, and as I remermber they were too close in the original model too. Driving it in my steel toe capped work boots proved to be a bit of a game as I tended to put my foot on more than one pedal at once, however donning a pair of Converse All-Stars, and I could dance on the pedals with all the accuracy of Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers making driving the little Ka a very enjoyable experience, and quite a lot of fun! One thing I feel I must mention is the heater, this was damn well excellent. I spent as much time as I could with the roof down as I wanted to experience going topless for as much time as possible, and the heater kept the chill off my bald head. I'm talking about the car by the way, as a fat bloke I don't go topless much at all, it's not a pretty sight! Moving on...
The 1600cc engine buzzing away under the bonnet propels this little pocket rocket along very VERY well, and ensures that every mile you cover is filled with fun! In these fun filled miles the Ka managed to just sip at the go-go juice which means I was getting approximately 39.36 (S)miles per gallon from Ford's open top little funster! I must admit I was surprised at this as I thought I would've got a bit more, but, when you drive it, it does seem to egg you on, and I found that quite often I was pushing the loud pedal a little harder than I might usually do... This, as a rule is no good for high MPG figures! But it's freakin excellent for putting a huge silly grin on your face!! With about 94bhp (of course some of them horseys will have bolted as don't forget, it is quite old now!) I never found it wanting for power. I think that it was fast enough to get you in trouble if you pushed it really hard, but with a low-slung driving position and a low centre of gravity, and having a wheel placed exactly on each corner with no over hanging bodywork meant that it handles really, really well as its looks suggest it should. Cornering is flat, the steering is sharp and the brakes are responsive. It's a fun car to drive, it's very 'point and squirt' a bit like driving an original Mini, just not so cramped inside. This fantastic handling doesn't come at the expense of the ride either, which is supple and copes well with most road surfaces. Because of how well the suspension is set up, and the fact that it is not a stupidly fast car I think that you'd have to be a spazzer of biblical proportions to get yourself in trouble in one of these, either that or you would have to be some sort of kamikaze pilot!!
Sadly, if you were such a person, and did push it past it's cababilities I don't think you would fare well in it, I'm not sure those roll over hoops would help you much as they feel, and sound (when you tap them with something) like they are very light duty steel tubing, almost like they were made from exhaust pipe tubing. I have a feeling that they are more there for show than for safety, and I think that should you be unlucky enough to roll one over, it would not end well. Hopefully I am wrong about this, I mean why would Ford bother putting them there if they did nothing? Of course I didn't pull all the interior trim out to have a look at where the roll over hoops joined the body, or what exactly they were made from, I just hoped, probably like everyone does, that Ford had indeed made them strong enough to be safe, and not just look the part! Moving on...
Styled my Pininfarina, the automotive styling company founded by Battista “Pinin” Farina in Cambiano, a Province of Turin, Italy on May 22nd 1930 to design and build special car bodies for individual customers or in small production runs. Nearly 80 years on, they then styled the StreetKa... AWESOME!! The thing is, I realise that Pininfarina have styled many cars for various manufacturers, and the Steet Ka I think is a handsome car, However for me, and I'm going to show my age here, when I think of a car styled by Pininfarina I think of the Modulo styled by Pininfarina for Ferrari in 1970. A car that was ingrained into my psyche in the seventies when I was just a child, and it will always be THE car styled by Pininfarina for me, and everything else is just it's poor backwoods relation. But that being said the StreetKa is very stylish, especially when you put it against other Pininfarina styled cars of recent times, like the Hyundai Matrix produced from about 2001 to 2007, a car that in my opinion is not very attractive at all. But it obviously full filled the breif that Pininfarina was given by the Korean car manufacturing giant. Having said all of that there is very little that I would change of the looks of the StreetKa. But, I once had an original Ka...
This one, and I have to say that I always preferred the face on the earlier model.
I had no idea that ford just covered up part of the headlight to change how the StreetKa looked. I presume however that all StreetKa's had the facelifted, um, face? I just think the original one looks a bit cuter!! Strewth, I'm such a girl, my months of Street Ka ownership has made me into a right Pansy! I realise that the original face is still under that big bumper, and it wouldn't be too much trouble to change it, but then would it work with the back bumper?
While I'm talking about the looks of the thing I must say that no matter which face is prettier, I think the First generation Ka's (1996–2008) are still alot better looking in my opinion than the Ka's that have come along since. The current crop seem to have lost their quirkyness, their identity, and their fun car vibe, a bit like the original Renault Twingo is far more interesting than the models that have followed it.
So word went out on Farcebook that my StreetKa was up for grabs, and before the afternoon was out it had a new owner! But is the end for me and StreetKa's? I doubt it, they are great, and I thoroughly enjoyed every trip in this lovely little car, I pretty much enjoyed everything about driving it, and I would even go as far to say that it is a drivers car. I reckon that if you like to drive for no other reason than the pleasure of driving, then male or female you could do worse than getting your hands on a little StreetKa, they're an awesome little car. If I was someone like Jay Leno with acres of covered storage space for my massive car collection I would definately have space for one of these. DEFINATELY! OK, so maybe I do look ridiculous when I drive it, but that's cool, I'm so glad I had this car, and I was having far too much fun to worry about how funny I looked. Yes, perhaps it is a car that is clearly aimed at girls rather than fellas, and so the hairy chested macho man feels too ridiculous to get into it and drive it, but more fool them, all you need to do is hit the road with a big grin on your face and enjoy it. After driving the Jaguar with all its luxury and power this is really is a breath of fresh air, especially with the roof down, but even with the roof up it is still AWESOME!