Rover Streetwise SE Turbo Diesel Five-Door | CARkeys

24 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Rover Streetwise SE Turbo Diesel Five-Door | CARkeys

Rover Streetwise


While urban on-roader is a neat if ultimately baffling description of the latest manifestation of the Rover 25 – it’s easy see what the expression implies, difficult to explain it in words of one syllable – the whole vocabulary of the Streetwise range hardly goes with diesel.

Yet the top-priced models, three-door and five-door, are currently the ones with the familiar two-litre Rover turbo diesel engine. In this installation it’s well behind more recently designed equivalents when it comes to noise suppression, but it’s still a strong-pulling affair, with 176lb/ft of torque pouring in from 2000rpm.

Having a slightly higher ground clearance than the standard 25, as well as roof rails, scratch-resistant material for the bumpers and wheel arch protectors, silver-look lower bumper inserts which might be sump and tank guards but aren’t, and bigger front intake apertures with a street tough mesh, the Streetwise design approach verges on the unreal. After all, features like the raised ride height are meant to cope with street bumps and kerbs rather than river crossings in the Serengeti. Yet the whole thing does somehow match up with the company’s alternative description of this car as an urban tough.

Inside too, apart from the familiar and neatly finished 25 fascia, there are features like silver accents all over the place, and the oddest centrally-mounted front window lifts. Bright colours are the interior thing here.

The front seats are sporty Sebring designs with very pronounced leather side bolsters. They move the term figure-hugging into an entirely new dimension, to the extent that I wouldn’t fancy driving a Streetwise for any distance while wearing a Harris Tweed jacket.

Oops. Harris Tweed – hardly Streetwise, is it? No, not the image at all. Light pullover or T-shirt promoting some unkempt pop group?

That would be fine, and certainly less constricting around the shoulders. Once you’re settled into one of the front seats, assuming you fit in the first place, you’re certainly well held in against cornering forces.

Behind, the standard accommodation set-up is another of those hallucinatory Streetwise arrangements. What looks like a pair of separate seats with a wide centre console is actually a complete one-piece, console and everything. This was brought rather forcefully home to me when something went wrong (as is hardly unheard-of these days) with the central locking system, and the tailgate wouldn’t open, with a case, three soft bags and a laptop computer in the luggage compartment.

Get inside, fold the back of the rear seat forward, and take the luggage out that way? Hardly, because the rear seat is fixed, and I didn’t want to hammer-and-chisel it open. The luggage stayed in place overnight and the tailgate lock (once again, as is hardly unheard-of these days) released itself first time next morning.

Rear seat legroom is very limited, although the luggage capacity is pretty good. And when the locking system is working properly, it’s quite subtle, including not just a self-locking arrangement once you move away from rest (at a speed the owner can set in advance) but also an audible warning if you park and walk away, not having closed all the doors properly.

Another standard feature is the Traffic Alert System which uses a symbol on the fascia display screen to warn of congestion ahead, on roads where Trafficmaster cameras operate. It works well, as was proved on a maddeningly slow run through Birmingham on the pre-M6 Toll motorway. Of course, the basic TAS system doesn’t offer alternative routes – just information of the Oh, no.

Here we go again kind – but it’s a very unusual piece of standard rather than optional equipment on a car in this class.

In the SE specification, the Streetwise comes with a leather-rimmed steering wheel and a rather too big leather-trimmed gearlever knob. It goes very strongly on motorway runs, coping easily in familiar turbo diesel fashion with long climbs of the kind which are noticeably power-sapping for some petrol-engined cars.

The raised suspension doesn’t have too much of an effect on the minor-road handling, but it’s as well to bear in mind that the Streetwise isn’t quite as road-hugging as a standard 25.

Rover’s intended market for this car is shown not just in some of the funkier standard equipment and colour schemes, but also in the catalogue of extra-cost options. There’s an abundance of ICE available, including higher power output units, automatic speed-dependent volume control, MP3 CD capability and head units designed with the younger purchaser in mind.

It’s difficult to compare the Streetwise directly with a competitor aimed at the same section of the market, because there isn’t one – not in the hatchback field, at any rate. To find a rival with the same urban tough approach, you have to look at small-sized 4x4s.

It may have a closely focused (euphemism for limited) appeal, and it’s certainly not for the business-suit brigade, but if this is the kind of car you want, then this is the car there is.

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