“ The original ultra-compact car, the Smart is surprisingly fun and nippy to drive. They are very unique and modern looking, and fuel consumption is very low. Initial cost price may put many off though. „
I love my smart car. I bought it new in 2007 after quite a bit of research as to what exactly might suit my lifestyle. I knew I wanted a small car and it had to be economical too. For me, the smart has everything going for it: compact (on the outside) but deceptively spacious on the inside. The two seats are ergonomically-designed and extremely comfortable. The passenger seat folds down so that there is extra storage for one, or even two suitcases. Me, I prefer to use the seat in an upright position for long journeys so that I have everything to hand that I might need on the journey and put my big suitcase in the passenger footwell, leaning back against the seat. The rest of my stuff goes in the boot and behind the driving seat. However, if you do want to fold the seat down and not put anything on top of it, there's an indent so that you can place a cup there although I don't know how safe it would be if you're actually driving.
The clock and rev counter on top of the dashboard weren't included in the sale price but I think they're pretty much a must-have and I can't remember them being very expensive. The clock is easy to adjust and both this and the rev counter can be swivelled to a position that's exactly right for whoever is driving the car. The car did come with a radio/cd player but not a cd holder but again, I paid for one, and I also bought two smart car mats. The only thing that I thought was pricy was the boot cover. It's simply a piece of some sort of plastic with a couple of rods that hold it in position in order to section it off from the rest of the car. At £40 I thought this was a bit steep.
Road handling: Excellent and it turns in a very tight circle. The only downside is that, because of its short wheelbase, it's a bit unstable in high winds on the motorway.
Fuel Economy: Excellent: about 63 miles to the gallon.
Aesthetics: I love the look of the car and you tend to find that other smart owners feel the same and will wave at you when you pass. The side panels are inter-changeable so you don't have to stick to the original colour scheme.
Road tax: currently £30 a year.
Environmental factors: The car has been designed so that it's environmentally -friendly. The electronic management system tells you exactly when you should change gear in order to conserve fuel.
Gearbox: There was a choice of gearboxes when I bought my car. I chose a semi-automatic which means that you change up manually by pushing the gear stick forward but the gears will come down automatically when you apply the brakes. I find, though, that you have more control if you bring the gears down yourself, by pulling the gear stick backwards. It's very easy once you get used to it.
Safety: Airbags are fitted and according to 'Top Gear, it's very safe in a head-on crash - although I haven't tested this!
Dashboard controls/warning lights: These are all where you'd expect them to be and easy to operate. The drivers' handbook is well thought-out with photographic pictures all the way through.
Parking: Obviously it's ideal to tuck into small spaces and although I believe you're allowed to park it face-in to the kerb I would advise against this because the doors are quite wide and so there's a risk of you returning to your car and finding you can't get in.
All-in-all I'm absolutely thrilled with my smart car and when this one eventually gives up the ghost I'll most likely by another.
I have recently purchased a 2002 Smart Car Pulse, I hadn't really considered this car, but it was a small car that I desired and I couldn't really get anything smaller. I have been a manual car driver since I passed my test 5 years ago; I have has a Ford Ka and a Ford Focus, so have been used to driving bigger cars.
I bought this one because we were looking for a second car and this was the only small car that my boyfriend thought he wouldn't mind driving. The smart is my full time car, I drive too and from work (approx 11 miles each way) which includes motorway driving. The car is very economical; I would say that I am a relatively high user with the commute to and from work 6 days a week and then 'pottering' around the rest of the time. It is only a small engine (600cc - apparently smaller than some motorbikes). This weekend I have done about 300 miles (mostly motorway) and have used half a tank of petrol, costing just under £20. It isn't recommended for long distance motorway driving as it isn't very aerodynamic and takes longer than a normal manual car, but handles it very well, again this weekend it was a bit windy and with the car being very light, unless you are a confident driver I wouldn't say it is the most compelling experience. But again the car will handle the motorway fine, but is definitely recommended for city driving (as it was designed!)
Having not driven an automatic, or a rear wheel drive for that matter I didn't know what to expect! I have been a little disappointed with this part, however I am learning how the car likes to be driven know and can respond to that. The Smart Pulse I have is semi-automatic (no clutch, but a gear stick you have to change up and down) I found this hard as it seems to have a few second delay with the gear change and takes some getting used to! Being rear wheel drive means that it is very 'nippy' at getting around, perfect for Leeds City Centre! However both these two features have meant it has been rubbish in the recent snow, losing traction and some wheel spinning, but then again it has been designed for the rest of Europe where it is warm! I have come to terms with these little learning points and think that the car is perfect for me.
The boot is very adequate for the few shopping bags and was bigger than I initially expected the space inside if excellent and again a lot bigger than it looks from the outside. Lots of larger lads I know want to come and have a sit in the car and each is pleasantly surprised by the space. The seat has a large range from on top of the steering wheel (like me) to really long legs! The car doesn't try to squeeze 4 seats into a small car, so you get more than you bargain for!
Another downside I have found is that even though sold as being able to park sideways (front to the curb) it is slightly bigger than a normal cars width so the back end does stick out a little further than everyone else (so not recommended) and I have heard some concerns with it not being reflected on the sides and therefore not road legal to park that way!
Overall I still love the car, even with its little quirks, it stands out and always becomes an icebreaker when people find out I have one and is very efficient and saves me a fortune.
I first got this car to go to college in and as it's in a built up area it's almost impossible to park and this was ideal for squeezing in those smaller awkward spaces.
Whats it like?
I have to see being quite tall for a woman 5 foot 11 I expected it to be a bit of a squeeze in the leg room department but I was wrong it is very spacious at the front. The engine is small but saying that the execration is better than I expected. I passed in a manual but found the automatic controls very easy as they are very responsive. The boot isn't huge but there is plenty of room in fact me and my daughter managed to get a suitcase and several other bags in the back and went away on holiday in it. There is a detachable section that can be pulled up to enable items to be pushed right up to the front seats. The netting behind the back seats attached to the compartments are very handy for putting glass bottles in to keep them safe when shopping. When driving it the wind does blow the car around as it's so light. When going round the corners it doesn't handle them as well as other small cars so they do need to be taken at a slower speed.
Would I recommend it?
I would if you go to cities a lot with limited parking then yes. I was a little concerned though when I took it in for a service and the man there told me not to park it bumper to the kerb during the night because it's illegal as there are no reflectors on the side of the car. The service was very expensive as there aren't many garages that deal with Smart cars yet so the only real option is to take it to a merc garage. Overall a good car for city driving.
I previously owned a Smart two two Pure 2003 and recently upgraded to a 2009 smart two two coupe. This car was the car that got me back on the road after an accident a few years before. I had tried other cars in the intervening years but none of them felt quite right. The moment I got into the smart car, driving became a breeze. The car was easy to park and went at a reasonable speed on the motorway. I had the additional cup holder put in as otherwise theres nowhere in the front to put your bits and pieces. The 2009 coupe is even better with a lovely glass roof too. You still need to buy the additional cup holder though. The 2009 model also has the benefit of a glove box and very slightly larger boot. It is very economical for the drive to work everyday. I would recommend this as a 2nd car if finances allow it.
I have been driving a smart car passion for the last 2 months. I do a fair few miles, mainly around town.
When smart cars initially hit our roads, my brother and I went to point and laugh at them at the local dealer. When asked which one of us was looking to buy my brother answered "she is". "I am not!" came the reply. Uh oh, micky taking rumbled! We made a quick exit!
I have driven numerous cars over the years and have owned warm and hot hatches. I am therefore used to nimble steering and a bit of oomph when I put my foot down.
Unfortunately, the smart car isn't very nippy with around 80bhp, although it can reach 90 miles an hour which is a very scary thought and something I won't be trying! To me it feels like I am driving a barge when cornering. It's also a fair weather car and doesn't like windy days. I have been buffeted towards lorries more times that I can count already!
The smart car passion which I drive is an automatic with that fab "eco" option which switches off the engine when I come to a full stop. Initially, this was a bit weird but I soon got used to it and don't even notice it now. And it's nice to know that the car is doing it's bit for the environment. Infact, the emissions from the smart car are very low.
The car achieves around 55mpg and I tend to fill up with petrol approximately once every two weeks. Bargain! (not that I pay for the petrol, being a work car, but still).
The smart car has lots of headroom but as you would expect, hardly any storage space. The ride is firm and the engine is a bit too noisy (I usually crank up the stereo to combat this).
You can of course park the smart car head on to the kerb, not that I have yet. Small spaces can be easily utilised, although the car I drive does lack power steering.
To summarise, I would say that the smart car is economical but really not practical if you are wanting to venture outside the city limits.
Two mechanics I know refuse to service Smart Cars - Why! Because it takes between 6 and 8hrs to remove two sparking plugs to the rear of the engine block. This results in a customer bill of about £400!!! They are fed up with being accused of cooking the bill. I now won't be buying one as a result of this bad design. Glad I raised this matter with them.Geoff
I brought my Smart Roadster just over a year ago when they first started selling them in the UK. When I first brought my car I though it was the best thing in the world, it was nippy, sounded great, cheap to run, fun to drive and everyone stopped and looked as you drove past.
However it doesn't take long for the little things to start to annoy you such as the very jerky gearbox, the fact that it is so low that when driving in the day the only thing you can see in front of you is the car in front's number plate and when you drive at night you not only get blinded by the headlights of the cars coming towards you, if you get even a normal car behind you the headlights shine through the rear window and reflect in the wing-mirrors so you are nearly driving blind.
Storage is another annoying factor, if you dare put anything in the boot behind you, as soon as you have to brake all the contents of the boot end up in the front of the car on your lap. As for the storage in the front of the car good luck if you can find room for more that one cd without having to throw it on the floor to get scratched.
It is cheap to run untill you have to pay £185.00 to get it serviced every 8000 miles and the money you have saved on petrol soon goes.
As I said I have had this car just over a year and I have decided to part exchange it for a New MINI Cooper Convertible, a much nicer car with a proper gear-box and much better storage space.
So overall if you change your car every 6 months buy one, if you plan to keep your next car longer than a year buy something else.
MY STORY I had this car for several months as a hire car after a motorcycle accident(?not my fault?), though I first got a bike but the ribs were too painful to ride, much to my irritation. The model is the basic model (Pure) so perhaps paying for the extra?s would make it a bit more user friendly/functional. Having never owned a car I am not comparing to any other vehicle of the four wheeled variety?errr?which may help. THE CAR(T) ? Is it comfy? This car has many attributes considering it?s size. It?s very comfortable and I once did 800 miles in a (stag) weekend without backache or any aches come to think of it, throughout my 6? 1? stature. Two friends had a go and both are 6? 6? and about 15/20stone and they also said it was surprisingly comfortable. The automatic gearbox certainly takes the choir out of driving though ? especially traffic jams. DRIVING IT Petrol tank capacity: 33L + 5L reserve OK, believe it or not, that little 698cc, 3 cylinder engine (with 2 spark plugs?) does actually shift up to at least 50mph. However, approach a corner to fast and the understeer is unbelievable. This is not the car to ?take to the max? as you have to remind yourself of the short wheelbase. PARKING ? now this is where it obviously shines?being as short as the average home floor to ceiling is high (2500mm x 1500mm wide) parking is easy, even for an all weather day or night biker like me. On many occasions I was able to park it perpendicular to the kerb, but even when this isn?t achievable, parallel parking is a doddle. Oh, driving in windy conditions can be...errr...interesting. LIVING WITH IT I personally, like most I hope, have more than one friend, so it can be irritating not having those extra two seats in the back, even when compared to a 3 door. Storage in the back is surprisingly good and I reckon a medium size suit case could fit in the back, otherwise I have had a huge rucksack, a medium rucksack and a Suzuki V-twin eng
ine in the back successfully. Because of the engine heat I don?t advise putting perishable food in the back though. The engine, should you wish to check oil levels/water is easy to access by removing the back trim and opening up a metal cover panel. Be warned though, the metal panel gets hot enough to burn your hands! Actually, you may want to try frying an egg on it one day. The two back flaps open up and down in a range rover way, so you could sit in/on the back and watch some bike racing or something, with a little protection from rain. I?ve had the back open during rain and only a little gets in. SMOKING If you are also ?one of the evil that should burn in hell? like me, the desire to smoke in a car is inevitable considering traffic jams and learner drivers (nothing against the latter, we?ve all been there). The bad news is that if you?re a bit on the tall side, it?s a fair reach to it when driving and it?s ideally situated for the passenger. Also, in darkness, you can?t see where you?re aiming that ash! One excellent feature is that once you?ve ?closed? the ash tray, there is barely any smell at all after a short while, to the point of our angels, the non-smokers, could never be offended. THINGS THAT CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS/CURIOUSITIES: To turn the interior light on, you press the tiny front light that?s below the stereo in the centre column. If the gears muck around, depress the brake and make two movements with the gear stick until the ?N? shows. Can?t unlock the petrol filler cap? Press the unlock button on the key fob once and open it within 15 seconds. If you don?t go for air-con and if there?s nothing in the back, there?s no problem with opening the back window. There is a design flaw in the engine heat expulsion (just a few holes in the bumper), so provided you?re not in LA central, just open up the back. NB Doesn?t apply to roofless models?of course) You can central lock from the inside by pressing the button surrou
nding the red hazard warning light button. If you tilt the back rest right back, the seat belt snags and becomes ineffective. CONCLUSION I?ll stick with the bike thanks. But if I were a ?car person? and had the money, I?d have a real car and a smart car for town journeys. For its intended purpose, it does an excellent job AND, to boot, it has Mercedes build quality so it will just keep going. The one I have has done 15,000miles and is 5000miles over-due on it?s service, and I can?t hear/feel/smell anything suspicious!
SMART ROADSTER This time last year I would never have thought I'd have enjoyed driving a Smart car... I'd seen them about - the little standard 'eggcup' style ones (dunno why I ended up likening them to an egg cup, but I did, and now I always call them eggcups), and although I don't really remember having seen them on the road, I'd passed the Smart Roadsters at the local Merc garage many a time. (Incidentally, the original Smart cars are now known as ForTwo's... the new four seater version is known as a ForFour, there's an off-roader type vehicle coming out in the not so distant future that'll be known as the ForMore). In January this year, my boyfriend got a job as a Sales Executive at Smart. Both of us were dubious about the cars just before he started the job, but now I can do nothing but recommend them! THE LOOKS ********************* The Smart Roadster looks nothing like the original Smart car. It's low... very low... stylish, and fun looking. Despite thinking of Smart cars as being small it's actually wider than you'd imagine, slightly wider than a lot of small cars (e.g. Fiesta, 206). It's almost got the curves of an Elise, but it's different from any other car on the road. From the front, it's almost as though it has frog eye like headlights, and the contrasting colours make it eye catching. As with all Smart cars, the Smart Roadster can have either a black or a silver tridion. The tridion is the safety cell surrounding the vehicle that looks more like added styling than added protection. The other panels come in about six different colours - coupled with the fact there are two tridion colours to choose form this makes 12 colour combinations. The Roadster comes in two body shapes - either the standard Roadster shape, or a Roadster-Coupe version, the difference between the two being that the Coupe has a sloped glass rear window at the back which is not remo
ved when the roof is taken off. (Have a look at the website www.thesmart.co.uk to see what I mean). Both the Roadster and the Roadster-Coupe are very similar inside and outside bar the look of the back end. At first it seems a little difficult sliding into the seat of a Roadster - this is more due to it being lower than a 'normal' car than it being too small. It doesn't take long ot get the hang of getting in and out gracefully rather than legs all over the place! Once sat inside it's surprisingly roomy. There's plenty of leg room even for the taller driver - my boyfriend is about 6' 2" and has no problem with leg space or head room. The driving position is comfortable and feels sporty even with the engine off. Visibility is pretty good, though it takes a bit of getting used to looking over your shoulder. As a driver, looking over your right shoulder you may at first find yourself looking at the tridion, but you can see over your right shoulder - the windows are obviously small, which therefore means you don't have all that much of an opening to look out of. Looking over your left shoulder out of the rear window gives a good view - with the Roadster you are looking out of a straight piece of glass almost right behind you, but with the Radster-Coupe the glass slopes towards the rear of the car, and part of what you'll be looking out of is the slope of the rear section of the roof (which is glass). This doesn't cause a problem, but it took me a while to get used to it. The inside of the Roadster can be kitted out in a choice of fabrics, or you can go for a leather package that includes heated seats! The heated seats are great in cold weather keeping you bum nice and warm, but the pack costs about £525. The dash is quite plastic looking, but doesn't look cheap and tacky. The dash is predominantly black, but trimmed with silver, for example around the edge of the dials, on the gear stick, and t
he sp okes of the steering wheel. The Roadster and Roadster-Coupe are convertible cars. Both now come with a soft-top as standard, though hard top can be purchased. Some older models came with the option of just a hard top (our 04 reg Coupe has only a hard top). The soft top roof is electric and easy to use. The hard top options are also easy to remove, but are not electric. It's a case of flipping a couple of levers to unlock the panels, then lifting them out. With the Coupe, the hardtop panels (it comes off in two parts) can be safely stored in the rear storage compartment - polystyrene mounts are provided so you can securely fasten the panels on top of each other without them rubbing or sliding about. Both types of Roadster look great with the roof down, though the Coupe certainly looks better when you wind both windows down too. THE DRIVE ********************* The Roadsters are 80bhp cars, which is a fair bit for such a small car. Bear in mind that something heavier and larger like a Peugeot 206 (1.4l) is about 75bhp. The car is very nippy and will happily pull away quickly. Being semi automatic can take a while to get used to the gear changes, but once you're comfortable with what the car is capable of it really can give you a fun driving experience. The cars have a softouch automatic gear programme with kickdown function. You can use the car as a fully automatic, or you can flick the gear lever or paddle shifts up and down your self. The car will still change up or down automatically if you reach rev limits within a gear, but the paddles/lever allow you to change gear earlier etc. The soft touch can be turned on at the press of a button on the side of the gear stick, enabling the kickdown funcation for shifting gear using the accelerator. The drive is smooth and the engine sounds sporty though not overloud. At higher speeds you can get some wind noise as though the window's not quite done up all the w
ay, but it 's not exactly a problem. Maximum speed is quoted at 112 mph which is plenty fast in such a small car, and it'll do 0-62.5 mph in 10.9 seconds so acceleration is pretty quick too. Handling is great, and being so low the cars feels like it's really gripping to the road when you take a fast corner. It feels safe to drive at the same time as being a really fun drive. Pulling away at traffic lights and junctions is no problem, as the car will quickly respond. Air conditioning fitted as standard means you can keep cool even with the roof on. There are two levels of aircon that are activated by the touch of a button on the dash. PRACTICAL? ********************* I'm taken with the Roadster - to me it's certainly practical enough. The Coupe certainly offers exceptional storage for the size of the car. The sloped area at the rear of the car is ample sized to fit a large suitcase with room to spare (I have personal experience of this when using the Roadster-Coupe to get to the airport for our recent holiday - there was ample room for a large suitcase and our hand luggage in the rear area of the car). As another example in the back of the Coupe you'll have little problem fitting in a week's grocery shop. There's also a storage area at the front - if you lift the bonnet it'll not reveal the engine, but another storage area. The Roadster has slightly less storage space than the Roadster Coupe, though that's obvious from the shape. In figures, the Roadster gives you 86 litres in the rear storage area and 59 litres at the front. The Roadster-Coupe gives you 189 litres in the rear area plus the 59 litres at the front. Being only a two-seater vehicle it's obviously not practical if you're looking for a family car, but then, if you're looking for a family car you wouldn't even be considering this! Customers for the Smart Roadsters range from loaded teenagers (
or those with f riendly bank managers or parents) who've not long passed their test right up to pensioners! You'd be surprised! If you don't like being looked at it's not a car for you, as it often attracts stares from passing motorists and those walking by. Fuel consumption is excellent, especially for such a sporty styled car and is approximately 55.4 mpg for combined driving. The Roadsters are compliant with the EU4 exhaust gas standard, which means you pay lower car tax. PRICES ********************* The bit you're probably most interested in! The basic price of a brand new Roadster-Coupe is £14,520.00. For the Roadster it's £13,520.00. You can always negotiate a bit with salesmen though! Second-hand Roadsters purchased through Smart can be great value for money, as you get the backing of a Mercedes dealership warranty and the likes when you buy the car. Roadsters are about an insurance group 8, which is relatively low for a sporty car like this. (Definitely a lot lower than my current group 20 car)! CUSTOMER SERVICE & AFTERSALES ********************* Maybe this is the only bit I'll be biased with! Knowing the salesmen at our local Smart dealership I know them to be very polite and helpful. There's always horror stories when car buying is concerned though, so no doubt there'll be someone out there who'll slate the service they've received. As Smart is part of Mercedes all the cars are backed up with a good warranty and aftersales service as standard, and all the cars are thoroughly checked before being handed over. MY VERDICT ********************* There are so many things you can mention when writing about or talking about a car that I know I haven't mentioned everything - to do so I'd sound more like a car manual, and for more detailed specs you're better off reading a brochure or visiting the Smart website (www.thesmart.co.uk). <
br>I love driving th e Roadster, and if money were no object I'd have one of my own. As our Roadster is my boyfriend's company car it's not ours to keep forever, and I'm not looking forward to his company car being swapped for anything else! Fuel consumption with the Roadsters is great, making them an economical drive, and their size makes them easy to manouevre. They're not so common as the ugly Street Ka or similar small 2 seaters, so owning a Smart Roadster makes you more conspicuous - great if you are proud of your car. (By the way - if you like the Roadster, but want even more fun out of it, there's a Brabus version which is tuned up more giving it better acceleration and top speeds and the likes!) My rating - four out of five * * * *
SMART ROADSTER ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ Cars often reflect their owner?s personalities. If you don?t believe me, then take a good look around you the next time you?re stuck in a traffic jam or at a red light. ~ ~ A quick glance at the range of modern cars shows that those with introverted personalities are well catered for, with a plethora of similar, bland models, with about as much style and personality as their similarly bland and boring owners. For extroverts the choice can become a little more difficult. There are plenty ?extrovert?s? cars on the market, the only problem being that while you may see yourself driving a McLaren SLR or Ferrari, your bank manager may be of the opinion that you are more suited to a 1980 Ford Cortina! So when a car like the new Smart Roadster comes along, priced at an affordable ?26,995, (well, fairly affordable) then it?s time for all extroverts to sit up and take notice. ~ ~ Smart cars (by Mercedes) are relative newcomers to the Irish market, although they have long been the small car of choice for fashion conscious yuppies in Europe, as a stroll along any Rome or Paris boulevard will quickly reveal. The problem with the Smart ?Four-Two? city car is basically just that; it?s a car designed primarily for use on city streets, and few would consider using it for a two-week motoring holiday, or indeed even for a wee trip down the country. So the clever (smart?) people at Smart have been busily beavering away to expand their model range, and late last year the new Smart Roadster made its first appearance on Irish roads. The design influence of Mercedes cohorts in building the Smart range, the watch designers ?Swatch?, is again apparent as soon as you look at the Roadster. It?s a fashion statement ?ext
raordanaire?! I first noticed one when it flashed past my taxi on the motorway to the airport, and when I later spotted it sitting outside one of the city?s main Mercedes dealerships, well, I could hardly resist, now could I? I tried to get my hands on it for a whole weekend, but the dealership was having none of it, as the demand for test drives was far outstripping the number of cars they had available. So the best I could manage was to borrow it from the late Saturday afternoon to early Monday morning. More than long enough to put it through its paces though. ~ ~ So what does the Smart Roadster look like? Let?s just say that it?s every bit as distinctive in appearance as its little brother, the Four-Two. If the Four-Two is a ?shoebox on wheels? (as I described it in my review) then the Smart Roadster is a ?motorised skateboard?. It reminded me of a sort of retro-style, somewhat shrunken sports car, with overtones of the old Austin Healey ?frog-eye? Sprite, and just a dash of the old Triumph TR7 thrown in for good measure. Whatever, it certainly fits well into the old two-seater tradition of providing a fun motoring experience, with the absolute minimum of practicality! The tiny 698cc engine practically hangs off the back of the car, leaving just the smallest of parcel shelves behind the two seats. With a bit of luck you might just about manage to fit in a couple of magazines and your morning paper, but even then it will probably be a wee bit of a squeeze! There?s an equally small, shallow space beneath the front bonnet, which will accommodate one (soft) sports bag and little else. So if you?re going away anywhere for a short (or long) break, then you?d be wise to travel VERY light, or else make some alternate arrangement to send on your luggage! If I were going for a game o
f my beloved golf (as I?ve been known to do on the odd occasion, heh, heh) I reckon I?d have to fit it with a tow bar and trailer to take along my clubs and electric caddycart! ~ ~ Inside is a bit of a revelation. You would expect looking at the car that you would need to wedge yourself into the driver?s seat with a shoehorn, but there?s actually a surprising amount of space once you settle in on the somewhat hard sports seats. The other surprising thing is that the seats are really rather comfortable, despite their hardness, and don?t leave you feeling like a half shut knife after you?ve been behind the wheel for a while. One little crib that I have is that the pedals seem to be a bit out of synch, with a definite bias to the left-hand side of the foot well, which left me feeling just slightly uncomfortable all the time I was driving it. I suppose you?d get accustomed to it in time, but it is a fault, and one that Smart would do well to address. ~ ~ It has the usual hard plastic facia and dashboard, but the nice retro-style dials and instruments stop it looking bland, as does the aluminium trim they use extensively throughout the cabin. The roof system is clever, consisting of both a hard and a soft top, which can be used either separately or together. What?s nice about the soft top is that you can be fully opened or closed simply at the flick of a switch, even while you are moving, so you don?t have to pull in and go through a whole complicated rigmarole involving switches and clips as you had to do on old-fashioned sports cars. (My own old Triumph Spitfire jumps immediately to mind!) ~ ~ I know what your next question is. What?s it like to drive then? The first thing you notice when you turn on the ignition (located beside the gearbox) is the throaty roar that emanates from the exhaust. In true sports car tradition it fairly spits and gur
gles at you, and produces far more noise than a small engine decently should! Like it?s little brother the Four-Two, the six-speed, semi-automatic gearbox is a mixture of both manual and automatic. It doesn?t have a clutch, and you can either change gears manually using the gear lever, or use the fully automatic mode. It also has little paddles on the steering wheel, the same as they use on modern Formula One cars, that you can use when you want to make a speedy gear change. Unfortunately, also like its little brother, the gear changes are a bit lumpy and jumpy, especially in the lower gears, and you have to really watch yourself in traffic, or you could be up the backside of the car in front of you before you knew it! It comes with all the ?bells and whistles? we?ve come to expect on modern cars these days. There?s anti-lock braking (ABS) so you won?t get into any nasty skids by locking up your wheels. Power steering so you don?t have to grow extra arm muscles to steer it. (Although the car is so light you probably wouldn?t even need it, to be honest) A very attractive set of 15? alloy wheels and tyres to help keep you on the road, and a pair of airbags just in case you DO manage to lose control somehow or other! ~ ~ Performance wise it?s no slouch, especially considering that it has a 3-cylinder petrol 698cc engine that?s smaller than you would expect to find on the average motorbike! It will reach 60mph in just a tad over 10 seconds, and go on to take you to a top speed of 109mph. But to get the best performance out of the car you have to be prepared to work the gearbox very hard, and make full use of the 80bhp at your disposal. But you are SO close to the tarmac you feel as though you?re sitting on a skateboard, which gives you the impression you?re travelling FAR faster than you are in reality. It?s very deceptive. At one poin
t I felt like I was topping 70mph on a country lane, but when I glanced down at the speedometer it was barely nudging 50mph! This can be a wee bit dodgy in overtaking situations. You feel like you can blast your way past practically anything on the road, when in fact the engine ?tops out? fairly quickly, which could easily leave you hanging out to dry with no more acceleration to get you out of a potentially dangerous situation. The good acceleration and handling are down to the plastic body panels that Smart use in the construction, which means the car is very light, and so the engine doesn?t have to work so hard. These plastic body panels also mean that it?s relatively inexpensive to repair any bumps or scratches you might happen to pick up along the way. You can even buy different coloured ones if you fancy a complete change of image at some stage in the future! ~ ~ On a straight road or motorway you feel as though you?re fairly belting along, and the car handles beautifully. But once you get off the beaten track onto some of the country lanes and side roads that abound here in Ireland, the Roadster gets decidedly ?twitchy? at the rear. Thankfully, it has an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) fitted as standard, which will cover up all but the most drastic driver?s errors. If you feel like having a ?real? driving experience, then this ESP system can be turned off, but I wouldn?t really advise it unless you have some rallying experience, as you could very easily end up in the nearest ditch, even at relatively slow speeds. The suspension and springs are grand, and it dealt admirably with the many potholes that abound on Irish roads. (Especially the ?B? roads) ~ ~ Economy wise it won?t stretch your motoring budget. Around town the quoted consumption figures are a frugal 45mpg, and you?ll easily achieve over 6
5mpg on a long run. This gives a combined fuel economy figure of about 55mpg, which is fantastic for a small sports car. Obviously, since I only had the car for a couple of days, I can?t comment on its reliability or the cost of servicing. But given that it?s made by Mercedes, I wouldn?t imagine you?d run into too many serious problems. And because it has such a small engine then you shouldn?t be stung TOO badly on insurance, although I believe there are some insurance companies quoting it as a ?sports car? and loading the cost proportionally. Here in Ireland, AXA Insurance are offering the best insurance quotes for the Roadster. (I can?t comment about the UK though) ~ ~ So would I personally buy one, and who will the car most appeal to? No is the answer to the first part of the question. While the Smart Roadster is without question an exciting wee car to drive, it?s totally and completely impractical for the average family motorist, unless it is being bought simply as a ?fun? car. Personally, I think it?s a bit too expensive for what you get, especially when you consider you could buy a new Mini Cooper, Mazda MX-5 Roadster, or the likes of a StreetKa or Alfa Romeo 147 for just about the same amount of money. But it WILL appeal to the young, fashion conscious trendsetter, who will delight in the heads it turns as they drive it down the road, and who will look on it as a fashion accessory as much as a mode of transport. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Irish Prices Smart Roadster ?26,995 Smart Roadster (Coupe) ?28,995 ~~~~~~~~~~~~ UK Prices (Source ?motorcities.com?) Smart Roadster £13,495 Smart Roadster (Coupe) £14,495 ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © Ken
74; May 2004 ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dinky car.. but totally awesome... only had it a week, but absolutely love it! Costs only £18 to fill up and it does a good 400+ miles to the tank Built quality is awesome; doors and boot shut with a nice clunk and sound solid. Just getting to the end of the breaking in zone (between 400-900 miles) and can start to floor it? it doesn?t accelerate as fast as a 2 litre engine but does very nicely up to its top speed of 84mph (limited). Cabin area is huge, bigger than most hatchback cars I?ve had before, with the engine in the back, which surprisingly doesn?t intrude on conversations in the car. Gear stick is a simply affair with a + and a ? sign Neutral and Reverse. (6 gears) There is a little arrow on the display, which recommends whether you should change up or down a gear for optimum fuel efficiency which you can ignore if you want to. Nice feature is that it drops into 1st gear when for example you come to a stop at traffic lights. Its impossible to stall it, computer will drop down a car if you try! Should you be concerned about safety it has loads of clever features, the engine being in the back and built around the car in the floor space means that you wont get crushed by it. The wheels protrude out slightly so its not possible for a car to impact on the side without hitting one or more tyres, thus the impact isn?t directly on the doors. Also it has ABS and an intelligent traction and stability control system that monitors each wheel, nice! Recommendations go for the Convertible luggage/shopping net with bar option, otherwise you will find that anything you put in the boot will crash around and end up in with you! Plus the extra sound system upgrade, as the standard one is pretty bad!