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Smart Roadster - 2004

on Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:09 pm
Well I popped over to Frome this morning to take a look at the Smart Roadster. I had a quick 10 min drive and a good 45 min poke around the car inside and out.


Outside -

For a 14 year old car, it's in quite good shape - black on black paintwork with just the rear offside panel which was a little matt. A quick blast of top coat and some polishing would easily sort it. The Roadsters look really good, with a long sweeping bonnet and twin holes for the head lights. This one had the 3 spoke alloys which look very good indeed, and nearly as nice as the Brabus jobbies. The rear of the car is a little more challenging with the "notched" look. The rear boot (engine compartment) is flat and opens to give a small storage space above the engine compartment. The roof rails can be stored in here for full convertible mode. The coupe Roadsters have a little more storage space with the glass / plastic bubble.

Interior -

It's a nice place to be, with similar looks to the standard Smart ForTwo (the one that Andoo loves so much!). The dash is quite simple and seem very well put together. Theres a central speedo and rev counter with the necessary information regarding gears etc etc. On the top of the dash between driver and passenger there's a temperature gauge and turbo boost dial - all nice stuff. The seats are surprisingly comfortable - more about these later.

The car - it's not the one to get, at least for the price. Tom Daley has dived into pools with less water inside! The leaks are all well documented and I'm sure could be sorted. The main thing is to keep the wet off the SAM unit - electric brain! There's plenty of information about the problem on the internet, not least a very good Roadster forum group. There was some surface rust on some of the seat housings, and the underside of the carpet was really rather wet. The canvas roof had some shrinkage which was adding to water ingress. Once weather sealed, a dehumidifier and the drilling of a couple of holes in the floor would sort it! I understand that there are canvas covers that cover the whole upper roof and make it watertight - a bit like a head scarf! Like the ones LK wears in his BMW!!

The drive - I took the car out for a quick 10min drive. WOWOW! A little belter. My friend has an Austin Healey Sprite (non bug eye), and this feels very very similar. With the engine close to your ear there is a fair bit of engine noise - ok, it's a 700cc turbo, but it makes a more than respectable noise! Actually inside the car is not dissimilar to the Jag exhaust (from the inside!). This adds to the feeling of speed, as well as being so low down (see getting in!) it feels really quite pacy, at low speeds! It feels much faster than the ForTwo, for all of those reasons. The gearbox in auto mode hit the gears quite well, probably due to the higher revving than the Brabus. In manual (tiptronic) mode it works quite well. If you lift off the throttle as you change up / down smooth gear changes can be achieved.

Getting in - once you have got the hang of it, it's not too bad. The car is about 4 feet high; luckily the doors are fairly easy to negotiate. You extend your left knee under the steering wheel and drop down. You free-fall for several seconds and eventually your buttocks hit the seat! You sit a couple of inches above the soggy carpet with just the cushion between you and potential colonic irrigation under heavy braking! The driving position is brilliant as you look out to see the sculpted front wings stretching away from the screen.

Good Bits - Great to drive, with real sporty feeling! To achieve the same sensation in the XFR would involve much higher speeds - illegal ones.....

Bad Bits - the damp and risk to electrics. The oil sump pan was very heavily corroded and would almost certainly need changing. No service history since 2014. Possible dodgy starter motor.

For £2k it's a no-go. For £850-1000 as a project it would be ok.



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Re: Smart Roadster - 2004

on Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:49 pm
The memory of 2004/05 I’d hazey but a friend was working at MB at the time and I’m sure we borrowed one for a quick drive...

Just remember go kart handling and wishing I could afford one
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Re: Smart Roadster - 2004

on Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:50 pm
Great review Hugh and I'd agree with pretty much all of it! I too love the proper low down sporty driving position. I feel they pull very well for the power, probably emphasised like you say by the noises etc. Richard occasionally mentions getting it remapped (I think you can take it from 80 to 100ish bhp with a remap) but he's never done it and to be honest I don't think it really needs it.
He has said to me that one day the car will be mine....but that probably won't be for some time. I imagine it will be a swimming pool by then (touch wood it's not at the minute!)
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Re: Smart Roadster - 2004

on Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:02 am
Here's a video of some chap careering around in his. I don't condone such driving on the road, but at least he used the Mini Cooper as a flying wedge!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSQZ7UJozfk
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Re: Smart Roadster - 2004

on Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:32 pm
Great vid, great road!
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Re: Smart Roadster - 2004

on Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:01 am
I looked at another one last night. The Hard roof coupe version. Interior wasn't the best (a new drivers seat would sort that), you could see some sparking on one of the HT leads and there was a misting of oil on top of the engine. It went ok. With a good DA polish and a sport of touching up a scrape it could be good.

But it was dry inside, with no evidence of leaks.

The prices of these varies so much; lots around with no service history or information about work done.

The search continues.....
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Re: Smart Roadster - 2004

on Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:39 pm
Yeah, keep looking. Need to find the 'right' one.
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