Product Type: Smart cars
Newest Review: ... front boot release. Two Pods sit on the dash which really add character to the car and display engine temperature and boost level - alway... more
The most fun you can have on the roads today!
Member Name: _Eskimo_
Advantages: Fun, Compact, Efficient, Good Value, Head-turner!
Disadvantages: Some common faults, increasingly rare!
Let me start by saying that this car was perhaps my favourite at the age of 13, when it was released. I can remember my grandad taking me to the Mercedes-Benz garage and lying to the salesman that I was driving, just so that we could get more information on the car (and so i could sit inside it).
Having joined the forum for Roadster enthusiats on www.theroadster.net (a great resource for anyone interested in the car) I began pursuing my obsession with the car in the hope that one day I would own it.
At this moment i have a 2005 registered Smart Roadster Brabus Coupe Xclusive in Jack Black on my driveway. Almost definately the best colour and almost definately - although notchback owners will disagree - the best model.
The roadster was made to turn heads, it simply is not the normal 2 seater sports car. Despite being around for 7 years now - the roadster still turns heads and I get people come up to me to ask about it. The most prominent feature is the Tridion Safety Cell that runs the length of the car and comes either painted in black or stripped to the bare silver, not only does it make the car look stunning, it serves a safety purpose too. The coupe model has an extra glass section on the back (or as the community like to refer to it as - the 'greenhouse') which aids aerodynamics but adds to the weight of the car.
The Brabus Xclusive has the best interior of all the models, leather heated seats with a black leather dash and a silver trim. The plastic inside feels much better quality than some other European cars too. It also comes with a 3 spoke steering wheel with paddle shift gears, general advice is to upgrade to a V6 Brabus wheel but this can cost an arm and a leg, but is all that the interior needs to make it complete. The leather heated seats are comfotable and they can burn a whole in your rear with the heat! The driver's side is adjustable for angle whereas the passenger one can simply slide forward or backwards. There is a small glovebox that can house not much more than an Ipod and the front boot release.
Two Pods sit on the dash which really add character to the car and display engine temperature and boost level - always a talking point if you have a passenger in the car! The Gear knob in the brabus has a push start button on it which makes you feel like you are really driving something special. This is a small car and you should not expect to have all the room in the world, the width is rather restrictive and you will most certainly be fighting over the middle ground but legroom comes as standard and you would have to be very tall indeed to find that you couldn't drive the car comfortably (Jeremy Clakson found it fine!)
Whilst perhaps looking like a fast car (and sounding like it in the case of the Brabus) you might expect a shred of speed to come from the roadster. Whilst Mercedes and Brabus have done extremely well to get 101 bhp out of a 700cc engine, the car still only manages to get to 60 in 9.8 seconds and like other smart cars, this is down to the simply dreadful gearbox. Lag between gears will have you extremely frustrated and is the largest downfall of the car when you first drive it. Over time however you don't really notice and to compensate for the slow gears all that is needed is for you to think ahead a second or two to what gear you may require (made easy by the paddle shift gears). Once in the correct gear however you will find power very quickly over 3000rpm and the turbo does a treat of complementing the engine.
Handling in the car is extremely good, the low centre of gravity, low weight and wide tyres make the car more than adept at going round corners at speed. Look no further than youtube for some videos of factory stock roadsters keeping pace with some very expensive cars just because of this thing's cornering abilities!
The tridion safety cell is a proven godsend and if you have seen some of the smart car smash videos online or on TV you will know that these things will keep you safe in the event of an accident or collision. Not only this but repairs to the car's bodywork are relatively cheap due to the outer panels being made of plastic and being split into secitons!
Most reviews on this car on the internet slate the roadster for being too impractical, this needs to be set straight. With 186 litres of capacity in the roadster you might feel like space is at a premium when it comes to luggage. A large case can fit in the rear of the coupe with little effort, the front boot can take either a medium size bag or a custom made bag for the roadster. Behind the seats is plenty of room for suits (can be hung on some rails that are behind the seats) or even a few bags. And if - like me - you travel mostly alone. The passenger side is more than adequate for taking anything up to 3 large hold grips as i have done on occassion.
On long journeys on motorways you would do well to have cruise control (can be easily retrofitted by a specialist garage or MB) to make the journey that little bit more comfortable. There is a central armrest for comfort and the seat can get a little uncomfortable afetr 3 hours or more driving. It is the noise that may strike some people the most. This is a loud car at 70mph, thanks to the engine bay and bad insulation but I find i can live with it as long as i have some music on.
Certainly the car's Ace card. 55mpg even from the Brabus is what i can consistently get with Super Unleaded (Shell V-Power recommended), there is extremely low emissions also. The 35 litre tank can get you almost 350 until you should think about filling up and even then will set you back little more than 30 pounds. Bagain. Good on insurance too - though i wouldn't know anything about cheap insurance yet being under 25.
If you've come to this review you're probably looking for reasons not to buy this car. You've either seen it on the street or you have a friend who has one and now are telling yourself that buying one is a crazy proposition. The forum i mentioned above is full of people like this who have taken the plunge and never looked back, despite the cars shortcomings and it is important to note that no car is perfect.
The roadster has earnt the nickname 'leakster' since 90% of them will leak or have done prior to modifications. This is due to incorrect materials on the car as well as poor drainage design on the seals. Some leaks are just annoying like the one down the inside of the windows after (very) heavy rain or a good wash. Unfortuneately there is a leak which is the bane of most owners. The water in the wiper tray can leak onto the car's SAM unit and render it unserviceable, giving you a £300+ bill to ge a new one. There are fixes for all of the leaks if you are willing to put the time and effort in - like I have - to stop them from occuring.
The wheels buckle on the Brabus. I have gone over some nasty potholes and have been very lucky not to have this common problem with the Brabus wheels, each new wheel can cost £350, there is no fix for this unless you change the wheels.
The ABS reluctor rings corrode after time - this can be put right by a decent set of rings - available online.
The Air Conditioning - another large fault that MB continues to deny the existence of even today, the Air conditioning will almost certainly crack or break at some point due to a design flaw - a permanent fix is in the pipeworks at the moment but a warranty should sort you out fine.
Above are the most common problems with the car. You will know about them before you buy it, it will not suprise you when it happens. Will it put you off? It didn't put me off at all.
The roadster is an individual's car with so much character that you will buy one as soon as you test drive one. This can be the problem with finding one for yourself as they tend to go off the market extremely quickly! They are also doing very well at holding current value (even gaining in someinstances) if in good condition simply because they are a desirable summer convertible and they are so cheap to run - yet so rare!
The car is so much fun to drive and just be in! It may not be that fast but take it on an empty B road and you will understand what the car was made for.
Summary: A future classic
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