God loves a trier, and in the automotive world there was none more trying than Rover. Yes, we deliberately got that wrong because, well, owning a Rover is a trying experience. Fraught with things going wrong, and bits falling off. We’d know, after all. But at the same time, Rover did try hard, too.
It was your granddad that bought Nike Airs, it was ham, egg and chips served on a square plate, it was an Xbox 360 played through a PYE television. Rover tried to be modern, to be fresh, to stay down with the kids, but ultimately it always fell flat on its face. Which brings us to this, the Streetwise.
Look at it…
There’s no getting away from the bubblesome body underneath all that plastic ‘urban’ garb. That right there is a Rover 25. No ifs, buts or maybes. Okay, so it’s been covered in glue and driven through the offcuts bin at Safestyle UK, but it is still a Rover 25. And to think, they called it the StreetWISE. Well, Rover, we’re wise to your shenanigans. We won’t be fooled. You’ve put granddad in a Kappa tracksuit and Kanye glasses.and now he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
Actually, no, look at it…
The Rover 25 wasn’t a bad car. You think it is, because that’s how we’re expected to perceive any old Rover. But honestly, it wasn’t a bad car. It was actually fun to chuck about, it could fit the family in relative comfort and because it was a Rover there was no way on God’s green earth that it would ever be stolen.
And at the end, Rover didn’t have much money. It didn’t have much anything, so a new car was out of the question. But even so, even in the face of what was at the time (and later proven to be) absolute failure, Rover still gave us the Streetwise. This is the motoring equivalent of that thumbs up at the end of Terminator 2: Judgement Day. One last ‘here you go’ before inevitable death. And because of that, we kind of like it.
No, we have no idea what’s going on here
At the time, we mocked the Streetwise. Much like we laughed at granddad when he bought a Ministry of Sound album. But the years, in our eyes at least, have been kind to this automotive oddity. The Streetwise was ahead of the curve, we laughed then, but years later we all flocked to dealerships to buy ‘soft roaders’. We wanted the rugged look, but without the rugged mechanicals.
Now, the Streetwise doesn’t seem so silly. Nor does it stick out as much. It actually blends in with the modern automotive landscape, which is impressive.
The car as a whole is pretty impressive, too. By the time this was built, Rover had largely ironed out all the kinks. It was a well-built car that was reliable and quite fun to drive, too. Okay, so the ride was perhaps a little hard, despite being jacked up, but better that than it being a wallowy mess.
The steering was direct and responsive, the brakes well-matched to the weight of the car. It was especially comfortable thanks to the big, deep seats fitted to the Streetwise. It was, and still is, a good car. Yeah, some of them had the dreaded head gasket issues, but honestly, if you’re looking at a Streetwise in 2018, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s either never been an issue, or it was fixed long, long ago.
Okay, the 1.4 petrol was woeful, so ignore that and get yourself a 1.6 or even the 1.8. if economy is your game, there was a 2.0 diesel, which should give you mid to late 40s on the old economy’o’meter.
And get yourself one with a bit of spec, too. The base models were shockingly sparse, with things like a passenger airbag, air conditioning and even ABS being notably absent. So shop around and get one that has those things. Shop around for one that has just two seats in the back, too. You’re never going to get three people in there, so get the funky double seat option instead. The kids will thank you.
The best bit about the Streetwise is the fact that it was bought by your granddad. That means your £2,000 will get you a minter with full history and stupidly low mileage. It’ll be effectively brand new. And knowing it is going to a good home will make someone’s granddad happy. Winner.