date : 25th April 2004
For some reason the makers of
smart insist that the name of their product be spelled with a
lower case "s".
Whatever the clever idea behind this bit of marketing-mumbo
is, we have to say thereís nothing low-level about the smart
roadster. Apart from its overall height, of course.
The smart roadster measures just shy of one comma two metres
in height, even with the hood in place.
And at just three comma four metres in length and a width of
one comma six metres, itís obvious that getting in and out
of tight spots is a big plus for this little car.
Although Daimler-Chrsyler would probably not admit it, the
smart roadster is conceptually very much a Caterham Seven, the
racer- for-the-road we featured on Car torque last week.
But whereas the Caterham is hand-built in cottage industry
style in Britain, this is a modern production car.
What the Caterham and the smart have in common is an ability
to put an instant smile on your dial!
This is all about in-your-face driving!
Initially we had concerns that the tiny three-cylinder engine
may not pack enough punch to give it real sports car
The little triple displaces just 700 cee cees, but thanks to a
Suprex turbocharger, which has some of the low torque
characteristics of a supercharger, there is impressive power
for its size.
The smart boasts 60 kilo Watts at a fairly low-revving five
thousand two hundred and fifty rpm and a hundred and ten kilo
Watts at three thousand rpm.
Weighing in at under eight hundred kilo grams gives the smart
roadster a useful power to weight ratio.
However performance is sporty rather than spectacular , with a
zero to one hundred sprint time in under 12 seconds and a top
speed of one hundred and seventy five
The down side in South African conditions, with our wide open
spaces, is that the engine is going to be working hard for
much of its life. But with a 6 000 rev ceiling it should prove
Being a three cylinder, one of the most appealing aspects of
the smart is its sound. The engine note is similar to a baby
Porsche 911, as the harmonics are similar to that of a flat
six cylinder engine.
Entertaining handling is what its all about in the smart
roadster. With a low centre of gravity and useful amount of
rubber on the road, the recipe is there for high cornering
DaimlerChrsyler has seen fit to equipe the roadster with
electronic traction control and corner assist devices. This is
great for the novice driver. But the real enthusiast would
like to be able to switch these off to indulge in the odd tail
slide - in safe conditions of course!
Unfortunately, traction control is here to stay on the smart
roadster and there is no dial-out button.
At a price of two hundred and six thousand the smart roadster
remains an expensive toy, an indulgence for the wealthy man or
woman who wants something different.
It is a lot of fun, but it is rather like buying a Vespa
instead of a real motorcycle. Being seen to be cool, that is
the reason for owning a smart roadster.
Car Torque is