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 that extraverted styling? From angles, we’re convinced; leave us gasping. But be assured not possible to remain ambivalent the Smart Roadster’s visual It’s a car that demands and prompts opinions.

Like roadsters, this one’s a two with removable roof and wheel drive. Unlike of today’s batch, the Smart hangs its 700cc turbocharged, engine over the rear Not exactly an engine size mate’s will envy, but one perfectly capable of motor-vating the light 790kg soft

The Roadster features similar design to the City Coupe and which means patient can change body panel to suit their moods. The however, takes significantly than the Coupe’s 2hr change and Mercedes-Benz recommends owners let do it.

Roadster comes with the mod cons, including remote locking, air-conditioning, CD player, windows and leather steering Wing mirror adjustment is


Getting into the car is not as as an MX-5; the height of the opening it necessary to fold yourself the seat. With roof however, it is an absolute breeze. The styling is just as out there as the and definitely one for acquired tastes. also sorely lacking in comforts.

For starters there’s no way to the steering wheel in any direction, and the seat has no height adjust, a that compromised our driving to some extent. Stowage and cubby holes consist of cupholders and small, difficult 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 tall I’m not the target buyer Daimler-Chrysler had in when it designed its diminutive car. Standing alongside, the comes to about waist and sliding into the ground-hugging requires a fair degree of and flexing.

Once behind the the narrow, sculptured seats back far enough to allow for legs but this means a reach to the non-adjustable steering Likewise, my big feet struggle the close-set pedals, the only a crash course in left-foot

Driving position niggles the Smart is entertaining once on the with its small but spirited short-shifting gearbox and balanced, chassis.

If you’re a fan of the Roadster’s exterior, then you’ll warm to the equally confronting with its mix of funky gauges and plastics. The highlight is undoubtedly the roof that folds in seconds at the push of a button, while on the move.

The Roadster also appeal if you like driving experience hectic and Although not super-quick in sports car the free-revving engine with turbo boost and rorty note adds to the boy racer

The six-speed clutchless transmission best in manual mode and the driver to constantly flick the to keep on the pace. Leave it in mode and it accentuates the often and jerky changes.

With mid-mounted and 15-inch rubber at corner, the Smart corners with little body Despite the short wheelbase it soaks up the rough patches and feels skittish on mid-corner Steering feel is less but still sharp enough for driving.

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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