Review: Ford StreetKa (2003 – 2005)

Rating:

Pretty two-seater with a decent boot. Drives very well and is easy to live with.

It's no sports car. Only two seats, which will rule it out for some buyers.

Recently Added To This Review

23 January 2015

Extremely severe corrosion fround on front subframe of 2003 Ford StreetKa requireing £1,200 work to rectify. If buying, check this area and the area in fromt of the rear wheels extremely carefully... Read more

Ford StreetKa (2003 – 2005): At A Glance

What does a Ford StreetKa (2003 – 2005) cost?

What's the Ford StreetKa (2003 – 2005) like to drive?

I can tell you from experience that the Street Ka doesnt need the delicious curves of Kylie Minogue draped all over it to turn heads. It does that job all by itself. Roll into the square of a town in Southern France in one of these, and every head turns. All age groups from teenage girls to grannies and grandads were looking it over, asking questions, wanting one.

The original Ka took everyone by surprise, including Ford. It was supposed to be a cheap sub-mini, toe-in the water exercise. But pretty soon the company couldnt make enough of them.

And sure there have been a few problems. Like spark plugs seizing into cast iron heads and the occasional case of structural rust leading to first MOT failure. Yet the Ka continued to sell well and hold its value. So the logical next step for Ford was to improve it.

I first saw the Street Ka concept at the Barcelona Motor Show in 2001. It looked right straight away. But before Ford could build it, the company needed to find a new engine hat would fit under the Kas low snub nose. That came in the form of an iron block single overhead chain cam 1.6 with all the injection system at the front so it would fit. And, since Ford was building the engine for the limited production Street Ka, it made sense to use it in the tin-top Ka too, hence the Sport Ka.

The Street Ka isnt a sports car, or even a Sport Ka. Its a very pretty two-seater roadster with a decent sized boot that also happens to handle very well and is very easy to live with. Its obviously at its best with the top down. This is no fancy electric job. First you unhook it from the screen rail and start to fold it back. Then you press a button so the hood cover pops open. Then you fold the hood complete with plastic rear window into the hood well. Then you close the hood cover. What you end up with is the automobile equivalent of a beautiful woman stripping out of her winter clothes down to a bikini. A snazzy little roadster with exposed twin roll over bars thats totally at home in the sunshine.

0-60 isnt fantastic. Top speed isnt much over 100. Its no sports car in the manner of the Smart roadster. But it is a sweet, fun to drive, viceless summer car. The boot is plenty big enough for two peoples holiday luggage whether the top is up or down. Ride quality is good. Theres very little of the dreaded scuttle shake. And, with a sweet changing five-speed manual gearbox, its a lot easier to drive than a Smart roadster. Plenty of people will trade the extra two seats of a MINI Cooper for the drop-top gorgeous appeal of a Street Ka.

On the other hand, the Sport Ka, as its name implies, is rather more of a sports car, and a very worthy competitor to the MINI One and Cooper. You get the well-proven handling qualities of the tin-top Ka, improved with 16 wheels, 195x45 tyres, sorted suspension and the bigger 1.6 overhead cam motor. O-60 is about 9.5 seconds; not fantastic, but enough. It tops out at around 110, but with only 20mph per 1,000 rpm is happier under 100. And, with sharper handling than the Street Ka, yet still very decent ride quality, its a whole heap of fun. Eventually, of course, it understeers, but lift off a tad and youre straight back on line without any back-end drama. So its safe as well.

Insurance of both the Street Ka and Sport Ka is a low Group 7. The passenger airbags are switchable so babies can safely be carried in front seats. The luxuries of leather and air come together as an optional £1,250 luxury pack.

The other new Ka is of course the 70bhp alloy head ohc 1.3, which replaces the asthmatic 60bhp pushrod engine. So Ford has taken a great little car with a lousy engine and turned it into a fine three-model range with decent engines.

All three make a great little second Ka.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 8V 36 mpg 12.1 s 189 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford StreetKa (2003 – 2005)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

94%

Real MPG

28–39 mpg

MPGs submitted

11

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Ford StreetKa (2003 – 2005)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Bought a used car that's unsafe - what should I do?

I bought a car for my daughter in July last year for £950 – a 2003 Ford Ka Streetcar, with 12 months MoT (corrosion advisory note). After five months, the car became difficult to steer, so she took it into a local garage/MoT station to have it looked at. She was told that the corrosion was so bad on the subframe that the chassis and the subframe had virtually parted company and that the car was dangerous to drive. She was also advised that there was no way that the car should have passed an MoT test just five months ago with such extensive corrosion and that repairs will be in excess of £1200. I have contacted the trader who sold us the vehicle and he says we 'haven't a leg to stand on' as it's over three months since we bought the car. I feel we should have compensation from him toward putting the car into a safe, roadworthy condition, which the 12 months MoT certificate led us to expect. Do we have any chance of recompense?
The dealer is bluffing. Why should you believe him? He not only faces criminal prosecution for selling you a car in unsafe condition, if you take your case to the small claims track of the county court you will almost certainly win: law here: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/ However, £950 is very cheap for a StreetKa convertible, and the MoT did have a corrosion advisory note.
Answered by Honest John
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