Smart City Coupe and Cabrio motoring com au

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car Smart City-Cabrio

Smart City Coupe and (June 2003)

Parks on a 20 piece

Not so much


carries two people

Not a highway


Five years its 1998 introduction in Europe one of the — and quirkiest — on the market has arrived in Australia. Smart car has been a phenomenal with over 440,000 of the two-seaters sold world-wide. funky styling, motor-cycle-sized and compact size — 2.5m long — has the Smart a big hit in the traffic congested of Germany, Italy and France.

So, why the in coming to Australia? For starters, a drive version only into production in 2000, and a of privately imported cars in Australia over the last of years — at inflated — gave DaimlerChrysler further incentive to sell The second-generation Smart, our first, more Mercedes-Benz style which are designed to increase its

Two Smart models will off the new brand in Australia: the City priced at $21,900 and Cabrio at Initially only one Mercedes-Benz each in Melbourne and Sydney sell the cars, with in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to from early 2004.

Australia hopes to sell 300 Smarts in 2003, expecting interest from style-conscious 20 to olds. Over the next 18 the company plans to add roadster and models to the Australian Smart


Cheeky looks and a design set the Smart apart the average city runabout. It may tiny on the outside — long by 1.51m wide, and high — but on the inside surprisingly roomy with for two large adults.

Both Coupe and Cabrio share the mechanical package: a rear-mounted turbocharged, three-cylinder engine six-speed sequential transmission.

styling and upmarket appointments the Smart’s premium pricing. The talking point is the interchangeable body panels available in a of vibrant colours and patterns. owners can drop into Smart dealer and have new panels fitted for $2500.

The mix and theme continues inside, a choice of colours and patterns for the doortrims and dash — garish Twister Green to more tasteful black Interior oddities, like the pod instruments and a busy digital will serve to either or annoy.

The Smart comes power windows, remote locking, leather steering air-conditioning, CD player and 15-inch wheels. Plus there’s of tempting optional extras as heated seats, cruise power mirrors, and power


Australian-delivered Smarts get the powerful version of the three-cylinder, turbo-charged petrol engine, produces 45kilowatts of power and of torque. Underpowered, sure, but to keep the 730kg Smart on the with the rest of peak traffic.

The tiny engine is hooked up to a sequential transmission with a gear shift lever as For those who don’t like gears, there’s a ‘Softouch’ option ($590), which is via a button on the gearshift.

F1-style shifts on the steering wheel a fun way to manually change gears, and are as part of the sports steering package ($1100). Despite a hesitation during gear we found all three transmisson easy to use.


The swing open wide for access to the tardis-like interior its ample room for two occupants but little else. The one-piece seats adjust for tilt and but not for height. The steering wheel is not which meant our 190cm sat too high and we had to reach slightly for the

Head, shoulder and legroom is though, especially on the passenger as the seat is set further back the driver’s. The large windscreen an excellent view and, with the standard sliding roof on the coupe, adds to ambience.

The electric folding roof on the cabrio folds with a push of a button and us about a minute to unclip and away.

Apart from cheap-looking plastic, the mostly interior has a solid, up market with good ergonomics not surprisingly, everything within

Limited storage space room for a couple of small in the rear compartment and a few smaller in the cabin.


The second-generation gains a number of active features not often found in the car segment such as ABS, control, traction control and assist. Another handy is Hill Assist, which the brakes on momentarily at take-off to roll-back. Rear drums and disc brakes provide a brake package on the 730kg

Passive safety includes a safety cell, small zones, and twin airbags. airbags are a $460 option.

Daimler-Chrysler Australia says its new ‘micro-car’ has no direct competitors in small car market. And in a comparison on there’s few small cars can match the Smart on safety levels, avant-garde styling, of parking and fuel-sipping economy.

mainly on price, however, and the faces stiff competition a raft of higher quality Japanese and European hatchbacks offer more seating, space and performance for the money. include Mazda 2, Toyota Honda Jazz and Citroen C3, others.


The Smart is a efficient and attention-grabbing means for two to get around town. Sharp and nimble handling made our test drive in Sydney’s inner city traffic a Add a tight turning circle, and the to park on a 20 cent piece the equation and the Smart makes a lot of in parking restricted areas.

car Smart City-Cabrio

The engine has less capacity your average milk yet offers enough low-rev to get the micro-car darting along at a pace. To get the best out of the tiny though, you need to work the ‘box fairly hard.

from rest to 100km/h a leisurely 15.5sec, and top speed is to 135km/h. At higher revs noise rises considerably, could prove tiresome on the

A firm ride means bump, crack and ripple in the surface is felt by the driver and Potholes, in particular, send a jolt into the cabin. all the electronic nannies on board, the short wheelbase and tendency to restricts enthusiastic driving.

costs are another strong-point: The sips premium unleaded at a rate of 4.7litres/100km for combined driving. Even with the 35-litre tank trips to the should be a rarity.


tested: Smart ForTwo

RRP: $26,900

Price as $31,910

Distance covered:

Road tester: Russell

Date tested: November 28, – December 5, 2003

BOTTOM A fun and funky fashion accessory but not for life as daily transport.

As of 2004, the tiny Smart will be known as the Smart Cabrio, preparing the way for the bigger forfour in late 2004. And really does express the car — if you only ever to carry one passenger, then tiny soft-top city makes sense.

There are two big in the equation; the first is price. The Cabrio starts at $26,900, and truly means base, even the radio/single CD audio a $240 option. By the time you get to the coloured interior ($1190), equipped, leather lined with clock, rev counter luggage cover ($100), mirror ($20), cupholder full steering wheel paddle shift ($1150) and transmission option ($590), little urban transport is you $31,910.

This probably rate a blip for the inner apartment living Sydney-sider or to whom the car is pitched, but it’s not a lot of metal — or plastic for the money.

The other big issue we is with the transmission. It is, put simply, a six-speed manual gearbox a clutch operated by the car’s rather than your foot. Gears are shifted by the gear lever forward or or in our case via the paddles behind the wheel. And put simply, it just work.

Mercedes-Benz is not the only to go down this route: Romeo and Citroen have transmissions on sale here, and are as smooth as a normal automatic or as effective as a full manual. In automatic mode, the car lurches at gear change as the engine drop and rise again. In it is slow to react to driver and though it gets better practice, is never going to be as smooth or responsive as a traditional

The engine does a decent job of the light little body town if you keep the gearbox on the and the engine revving above — which makes for a cabin. The Cabrio is extremely though, which is one of the car’s It is also great for parking and in busy streets and the steering is The ride is firm but never uncomfortable, and the car generally feels at suburban speeds.

Published. 1 June 2003

car Smart City-Cabrio
car Smart City-Cabrio
car Smart City-Cabrio
car Smart City-Cabrio


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