The Ford Streetka Concept, a design exercise by Ghia, was the star of the Turin Motor Show in 2000. It was clever yet simple, based on one of the most innovative sub-B vehicles and inspired by traditional sports cars from a bygone era such as the “Frog-Eye” Sprite and MG Midget. The result was a modern interpretation of the simplicity and fun of the classic two-seater roadster, truly in character with the original design flair of the Ford Ka.
The Ford StreetKa philosophy truly fits with the character of the Ka, a compelling small car with the makings of a design icon. Streetka also exemplifies Ford’s plans to expand its development of derivative products as part of a product-led transformation strategy that will treble its product-launch activity across Europe over a five-year period.
It offers classic open-air fun in a desirable, stylish, contemporary and high quality yet affordable two-seater package. Its stunning looks have remained true to the original design of the Turin Show concept car and are well matched by peppy performance from its new 1.6-litre Duratec 8V 95 PS engine and sharp driving dynamics.
The Streetka was progressed from its concept form by a team of in-house Ford designers led by Chris Bird. It has been engineered from the ground up through a new relationship between Ford of Europe and Industrie Pininfarina SpA. Pininfarina worked hand-in-hand with Ford to engineer the Streetka for volume production. This was completed in an extremely short time frame of about 24 months.
Streetka outside: true to the concept
Streetka wears a distinctive facial expression. Its polypropylene body-coloured front bumper flares out at the sides into exaggerated wheel arches, framing the headlamp units, which are angular rather than rounded as on the Ka. Integrated front fog lamps flank the distinctive central cutaway section in the lower half of the bumper. The bumpers are slimmer by a few millimetres compared with the concept car to make the production car more svelte for the road.
In profile, the bumpers lead the eye up to the windscreen, which was shortened to suit the ‘roadster’ look while still providing plenty of protection from wind buffeting. Streetka doors have a frameless construction for the side windows. The body-coloured wing mirrors are attached at the base of the A-pillar for good all-round visibility.
The locking petrol cap sits just above the waistline - a location that required specialist engineering to situate the housing in between the safety roll bars and roof stowage area. The roll bars themselves are the only projections as the soft-top is stowed under a flush panel, providing exceptionally clean lines when the hood is folded down.
At the rear, Streetka’s design mirrors the front in the form that was originally created by the Ghia design team.
Dedicated Streetka badging is located forward of the rear wheel arches and the bright work scuff plates are inscribed with the name Pininfarina to denote that the car has been produced by the specialist Italian coachbuilders.
Streetka inside: simple and elegant
Streetka’s interior ambient colour is the fashionista’s favourite shade, largely black, and peppered with touches of bright work. The dashboard and door furniture are Ebony; the all-new Ka instrument cluster face (featuring an interlinked odometer, rev counter and fuel gauge, depending upon specification level) and central oval clock face are black with white graphics.
The binnacle fascia and radio bezel are coated in Cosmos matt black paint. Aluminium touches abound from the Puma-inspired brushed aluminium ball gear knob, and the air vent grips to the aluminium clock surround and the two-spoke ‘shells’ on the Ebony leather sports steering wheel.
The Streetka’s interior can be opened quickly to the elements thanks to the simple operation of the soft-top’s fabric manual hood. This design, true to the concept car, was selected instead of a powered or collapsible hardtop roof for style and affordability.
The seven-step manual top-down operation takes under 30 seconds for one person. This procedure includes lifting and closing the gas-assisted roof cover, which lies flush when the roof is down. Schematic instructions for roof operation are shown on a label inside the car as a quick reminder for Streetka owners so that the spontaneity of open-top motoring is encouraged.
Underneath the roof mechanism (located where the rear seats would be in a regular Ka) ‘bonus’ storage space helps the Streetka’s luggage compartment to pass the ‘golf club’ test. VDA luggage volume is 214 litres. An additional lockable box, situated behind and between the seats, provides an extra ‘cubbyhole’ for CDs and other items.
Streetka power : new 95 PS Duratec 8V engine
Streetka is powered by an all-new, low-friction engine, the 1.6-litre Duratec 8V. Fun to drive, yet affordable to own and operate, the Duratec 8V features a power output of 95 PS (70 kW / 94 bhp).
Streetka’s 1.6-litre Duratec 8V is a prime example of ‘intelligent simplicity’ that combines low friction technology with maximum torque at low speeds, providing drivers with exciting roadster acceleration, economy and dependability. It has been specially developed for the European market to meet Euro Stage IV emissions (depending on country) with excellent refinement.
The engine features low-friction valvetrain technology that ensures low fuel consumption levels, not only on the official European driving test cycle, but also in the real world of today’s small car owner. Appropriately for a sporty roadster, Ford engineering efforts to optimise surface compatibility and the hardness of components subjected to friction were influenced by technology used in Formula 1 engines.
Very fuel-efficient for a petrol engine, the 1.6-litre Duratec 8V features an overhead cam configuration with two opposed valves at an included angle of 16°. State-of-the-art mixture preparation is provided by electronically controlled sequential multi-point fuel injection.
The engine has been carefully calibrated to provide strong low-end torque for elasticity and strong performance feel at low engine speeds, with peak torque of 135 Nm (101 lb-ft) at 4,250 rpm. Nearly 90 per cent of maximum torque is available between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm.
With a newly designed, highly-efficient water pump impeller that helps ensure optimal operating temperature ranges during driving, the 1.6-litre Duratec 8V is targeted to deliver fuel economy of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres (35.8 miles per gallon), with target CO2 emissions at 191 grams per kilometre.
The new Streetka engine is available in a single, fun-to-drive version with a power output of 95 PS. The engine accelerates the roadster to 100 kph (62 mph) in 12.1 seconds.
Streetka fun: a drive to match its looks
Streetka’s fun-to-drive, open-air experience has been optimised by extensive engineering development of the new roadster’s body structure, suspension, steering systems and NVH characteristics.
Streetka’s driving attributes reflect the agility, stability and confidence that are the foundation of roadster driving enjoyment, including:
- A completely new and refined set-up of all suspension parts and settings.
- Precise and responsive steering.
- Larger track width, front and back, and improved stance for robust roadholding capabilities that provide stable and predictable handling.
- A 25 per cent increase in roll stiffness for reduced body roll, better cornering stability and quicker handling.
- All-new 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/45 R16 tyres.
- Powerful braking system with ABS for sure and straight stopping.
- Superior levels of ride comfort for a roadster of this size.
Streetka has been carefully designed to provide new levels of strength and stiffness for a convertible. These contribute significantly to Streetka’s precise and confident handling, as well as to its ride comfort.
A key benefit of this stiffened design is the creation of ultra-stiff mounting points for the suspension and steering systems. The body structure must robustly resist bending in these areas so that the suspension and steering systems operate with full effectiveness.
Ford engineers were not prepared to compromise driving quality in the process of creating this unique derivative model.
Driving quality in Ford’s exciting new Streetka is more than just great handling, steering, responsive acceleration and strong braking. Subdued levels of road and powertrain noise and vibration, were also key objectives in the new car’s design.
Ford engineers specialising in advanced NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) management worked closely with Pininfarina across all technical disciplines to ensure that each system in the overall vehicle would contribute to the target sound quality they wanted for Streetka customers.
The result is a powertrain with precisely engineered exhaust sound properties, chassis systems in which road harshness and vibrations are isolated from the occupant cabin, and a stiff body structure that is optimised for low wind noise and the absence of annoying squeaks and rattles.>
The Streetka’s refined driving environment, both open-air and with the soft-top closed, matches its exciting character and dynamic capabilities.>
Streetka safety: strength and solidity
Pininfarina’s body engineers worked very hard to ensure that the Streetka meets not only legislative and Euro NCAP targets but Ford’s own stringent safety performance requirements.
The first challenge was to stiffen the car to compensate for the absence of a hard roof. To avoid the concertina effect of the floor pan folding up in a crash situation, the floor pan was reinforced along its lateral edges - the rocker panels.
The lower rockers are constructed with a combination of parts to form a reinforced box structure. The combined material thickness of these parts is 6.8 mm, whereas in a normal saloon, these are usually made of sheet steel with a thickness of around 1.6 mm. This provides a strong safety platform. Consequently, Streetka benefits from a lower centre of gravity, vastly reducing scuttle shake and making the roadster rock-solid on the road.