Smart Roadster (2004) motoring com au

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car Smart Roadster

Smart Roadster (2004-) 2003)

Distinctive, eye-catching

Not so much

Artificial steering

Jerky gear changes

driving position


your mind, demands the slogan of this quirky subsidiary. And it’s a plea must be followed if you’re to any chance of understanding its funky aimed squarely at inner-urban The Smart City Coupe and came first; tiny that can fit sideways in a regular spot.

Seats for two and room for not more of anything, the goal is to own, cheap to run transport makes inner-city navigation and a breeze. It’s a theory may work well in overcrowded but some of the advantages get lost in the to Australian shores, where open spaces abound.

The long Smart Roadster is the of the breed that — at taste — is equally at in town as out of it. Think of it as a uniquely more compact take on the MX-5 and you’ll be on the right Think of it as a statement of individuality, a to express yourself and be noticed, and target market for the $37,990 Roadster. Think of it as a razor roadster that’s equally at fighting hill climbs the aforementioned MX-5 and you’re The Smart Roadster is not a driver’s it’s a poseur’s car.


How can anyone miss overt, extraverted styling? some angles, we’re others leave us gasping. But be it’s not possible to remain about the Smart Roadster’s presence. It’s a car that attention and prompts opinions.

most roadsters, this a two seater with removable and rear wheel drive. most of today’s batch, the Roadster hangs its 700cc three-cylinder engine over the wheels. Not exactly an engine your mate’s will but one that’s perfectly capable of the impressively light 790kg top.

The Roadster features modular design to the City and Cabrio, which means owners can change body colours to suit their The Roadster, however, takes longer than the Coupe’s 2hr time, and Mercedes-Benz recommends let dealerships do it.

Roadster comes the usual mod cons, including central locking, air-conditioning, CD electric windows and leather wheel. Wing mirror is manual.


Getting the car is not as easy as an MX-5; the height of the makes it necessary to fold into the seat. With off, however, it is an absolute The interior styling is just as out as the exterior, and definitely one for acquired It’s also sorely in creature comforts.

For starters no way to adjust the steering wheel in any and the driver’s seat has no height a combination that compromised our position to some extent. pockets and cubby holes only of cupholders and small, door pockets.

Materials used inside the have a funky feel than any high quality Dials, fonts, and colours are about making a statement melting into the background, and in keeping with the brash Minimalism is the overriding theme.

space is not a Roadster strong There’s enough room the bootlid to stow two briefcases enough under the bonnet for a dozen grocery bags. The clubs are definitely riding


Active safety on the Smart Roadster do not include its which is almost a liability. ESP Stability Programme is fitted as along with CBC corner control, BA brake assist and HAS start assist. Okay, last item is not strictly a feature — it gives you of a second to reach the throttle the brake before it releases the on uphill starts.

ABS antilock are standard equipment on the Roadster; brakes are fitted up front and on the rear.

Structural integrity in a small car has not been overlooked, to Mercedes Benz, which the City Coupe’s Tridion cell into the car’s Dual front airbags are along with seatbelt and belt force limiters. airbags are optional.


The measures just 3.4m is 1.6m wide and just tall — tiny. A wheelbase makes the most of the meagre footprint, as does the — 1.35m front and rear. Fifteen-inch tyres right at home under the guards of this diminutive convertible.

Smart’s turbocharged 700cc hangs over the rear tweaked to produce 60kW of and 110Nm of torque in the Roadster. mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox, which disguises the average performance with ratio gearing. This four gearchanges to 100km/h, the engine doesn’t mind hard and the gearbox is happy to down into high

Front disc brakes and drums are given the job of slowing the Though drums are often inferior, the car’s overall of 790kg makes them than adequate, though to overheating on repeated hard


The key to enjoying this car is an approach. Its low centre of gravity and the ultra low seating position the feeling of speed and agility. steering and the responsive triple-cylinder add to the driver’s car feel, but this is no car.

It falls short of primarily because of the steering’s artificial feel; it’s driving an arcade game, very little relation to the wheels. It’s hard to the Smart Roadster accurately in and it’s also near to know how much work the wheels are doing, meaning the only evident when crossed it. Thankfully, the Smart’s ESP system steps in before point, if you leave it switched on.

The slick semi-automatic gearbox is of fun, and definitely more at when driven hard but very jerky gearchanges very annoying when Drivers will quickly to back off the throttle the instant start to soften the lunge.

Add to this the six-speed gearbox’s ratios — to make the of the engine’s meagre 60kW of — and gear-changing is too jerky and too for our liking.

The Roadster does extremely well for such a low beast, absorbing Melbourne’s roads easily and comfortably. We had the chance to test the optional wheels and tyres, but the standard 15s a good compromise between and handling, and weren’t too noisy coarse Aussie roads.

this; we’re not against the of a lightweight, minimalist roadster. We very keen to drive car, imagining it do be a slightly comfortable, more affordable Elise, with better manners and eight-tenths of the performance.

but not quite. If the driving position was and the steering system actually with the driver — two crucial to any car claiming to focus on unadulterated driving pleasure then we’d be sold. But it So we’re not.

*Smart the Roadster can accelerate from to 100km/h in 10.9 seconds and a combined fuel economy of 5.1litres/100km.


Model 2003 Smart Roadster


Price as tested:

Distance covered: 232km

tester: Chris Fincham

tested: Jan 30 — Feb 6, 2004

LINE: Too quirky, impractical and for Australian tastes

At 192cm I’m probably not the target Daimler-Chrysler had in mind when it its diminutive sports car. alongside, the roof comes to waist high and sliding the ground-hugging seats requires a degree of contorting and flexing.

Once behind the wheel, the sculptured seats push far enough to allow for long but this means a long to the non-adjustable steering wheel. my big feet struggle with the pedals, the only solution a course in left-foot braking.

position niggles aside, the is entertaining once on the move, its small but spirited engine, gearbox and balanced, responsive

If you’re a fan of the Roadster’s extroverted then you’ll probably to the equally confronting cabin its mix of funky gauges and grey The highlight is undoubtedly the retractable that folds down in at the push of a button, even on the move.

The Roadster should appeal if you like your experience hectic and involved. not super-quick in sports car terms, the engine with subtle boost and rorty exhaust adds to the boy racer effect.

The clutchless transmission works in manual mode and forces the to constantly flick the gearshift to on the pace. Leave it in auto and it accentuates the often slow and changes.

With engine and 15-inch rubber at each the Smart corners flat little body roll. the short wheelbase it comfortably up the rough patches and only skittish on mid-corner bumps. feel is less satisfactory, but sharp enough for sporty

Not surprisingly, the Smart squeezes the tightest parking spots and on the proverbial smell of an oily Even a stint of hard around town did little to the 35-litre tank, achieving an 6.5litres/100km on average.

Where the loses points is in practicality and for money. Unlike some rivals, it is severely limited in capacity. More than I had to leave it at home and opt for bigger, versatile transport. And despite a list of standard features, still hard to justify the pricetag, particularly when like trip computer, control and centre armrest to our test car add further cost.

no mistake, the Smart is stylish, and bags of fun in the right conditions. But its tag and niche market approach its appeal to those willing to pay for the of standing out in the crowd.

Published. 1 December 2003

car Smart Roadster
car Smart Roadster
car Smart Roadster
car Smart Roadster


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