Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Both engines are extremely frugal
- It has its own unique looks
- It makes for a fun driving experience
- It’s not as quick to drive as you might expect
The Smart Roadster comes with sports car looks and handling, but it’s unlikely you’ll loose your licence in it as it isn’t as fast as its looks. Not that you will realise it when you’re driving it fast anyway, as the low-slung seats give the impression that you’re driving a lot faster than you actually are.
Exterior and Interior
The Roadster comes with sports car looks, even if it doesn’t deliver sports cars performance. The interior is just as good too with low-slung, comfortable seats and high-quality materials being used throughout. It also comes with enough head and legroom unless you’re really tall. As you would expect, there isn’t a huge amount of boot space available, however, it is enough for a couple of weeks’ shopping. The dash and central console are both intuitively laid-out with everything in easy reach and the well-engineered trim makes everything feels solidly-built and sporty.
The Brabus edition also comes with a high level of kit as standard including heated leather seats, ABS, air-con, alloys, electric and heated mirrors, traction control and front and side airbags.
Performance and Economy
The standard 80bhp model may not sound very powerful, but in a body as light as the Roadster’s it provides for a very enjoyable and nippy drive. It is the more economical of the two engines, achieving a respectable 55mpg, and isn’t too slow to accelerate to 60mph either getting there in 10.6 seconds. The Brabus with its extra 21 horses under the bonnet performs much better than the smaller engine, giving a good performance, especially on back roads. It makes overtaking a lot less stressful than the smaller unit and it is only slightly heavier on the petrol too, managing 53mpg. The Brabus engine goes from standstill to 60mph in 9.5 seconds.
Both engines only come with a semi-automatic gearbox, which some drivers find awkward to use, whilst others say it adds to the Smart Roadster’s character and charm.
The standard engine falls into group 10 when it comes to insuring it, whilst the Brabus comes into group 14.
Like to Drive
The low-slung body of the Smart Roadster, with its rigid chassis and rear-wheel drive offers superb levels of grip in the corners, and perfectly balanced handling that makes you want to test it out on more and more winding roads. The brakes are perfectly sharp and there is hardly any body roll to speak of, but the steering could do with more feeling. The Brabus comes with stiffer suspension that improves the handling even further, but this comes at the expense of some comfort.
The low-slung seats give you the feeling of travelling faster than you really are, however, there is some wind and engine noise in the cabin at higher speeds.
Faults and Repairs
There have been some problems with the Smart Roadster and as such there are some areas you should look at when considering one. There have been some reports of electrical faults so make sure to test everything. Checking for dampness in the cabin is a good idea, as some cars have been known to leak on the driver’s side. The car has also been know to overheat when standing idle for a while so when on a test drive try and test this out if possible. Only go for a model that has a full service history as without a regular service, the Smart Roadster is likely to start having more serious problems than the ones listed above.
Servicing will cost a lot, though, as you’ll have to take it to a Mercedes garage as they both fall under the same manufacturing group; and with service intervals set for every 9,000 miles, you are likely to be seeing a Mercedes mechanic a lot more often than you’d probably like.