Rover Streetwise | Auto Express

14 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Rover Streetwise | Auto Express

The trouble with growing up is that life gets serious on you. As a kid, you could spend all day playing in the garden with your Tonka truck, pretending to shift tonnes of soil around and then carting it indoors to show your mum.

Impractical rear seats, switchgear quality, problems with LPG and electric windows

Our long-term Rover Streetwise has given me the chance to return to my childhood – not only have I been messing about in my back yard, but the car did a good impression of my four-year-old son George’s Tonka. That is partly down to the enlarged bumpers and raised ride height giving a tough look, but also because it’s practical as well.

While landscaping my garden, there was plenty to shift, from paving slabs to overgrown water features, and the Streetwise swallowed it all with relative ease. At the touch of a single button, the rear seats fold down almost flat. And what’s more, the headrests don’t need to be taken out to do this.

Plus once you’re done with the mud, the hard-wearing interior is easy to wash down.

However, it’s not entirely perfect for lugging stuff around – the LPG tank on our car is where the spare wheel would normally be. This now has to sit in the boot, and it’s quite heavy to have to keep taking out every time there’s a big load.

And while my son finds the back seats comfortable, the Streetwise isn’t so impressive when it comes to taking him and his mates out. That’s because it’s only a four-seater, with the middle of the bench taken up by a cheap-feeling storage area.

The rear bucket seats might appeal to the younger generation Rover is trying to snare with this car, but they aren’t very useful for families.

I’ve been impressed with how it drives, though, particularly on the motorway, which the comfortable ride handles easily. This is where I tend to switch into LPG mode, and it’s very simple to change, although the button itself is made of cheap plastic. The gas level indicator only has four LEDs, so it’s hard to tell if you’ve got a quarter tank left or are running on fumes.

The savings offset most of the drawbacks, though. My route to work takes in London’s congestion charge zone, but the Rover escapes the toll because of the conversion. On top of that, LPG is about half the price of petrol, so even allowing for the fact that it’s less economical (27.3mpg compared to 36.1mpg), it still saves me a fortune.

However, I have noticed that every so often the engine loses power while using LPG. It’s particularly bad pulling away from roundabouts, and the car actually stalled the other day. If it happens again, Rover will need to have a look at it.

The same thing applies to the rear off-side electric window, which tends to stick a few inches from being closed and needs a helping hand to get all the way to the top. I’ve also noticed that the sunroof clicks a lot as it opens – it works, but I’m wary of using it just in case it won’t shut again. The rest of the car is Tonka tough, though, with the big bumpers shrugging off parking knocks that would leave other superminis with big bodyshop bills.

I’ll certainly miss it when Rover takes my toy away.

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