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The idea of creating urban subcompact auto first came to mind of Nicolas George Hayek - the founder of the watch company Swatch. Wanting to bring his project Swatchmobile to a conveyor, he appealed for technical support to different manufacturers, but he was understood only in the Mercedes-Benz. The prototypes of the new models were concepts Eco Sprinter and Eco Speedster, presented in 1993. In order not to lose the reputation of premium models, the Mercedes has created a separate joint venture with Swatch - Micro Compact Car, which appeared in 1994, and pre-production sample smart (Swatch Mercedes Art) was introduced three years later. However, after the scandal with rollover of Mercedes A-class the preparation for minicar production was suspended - the company started its finalization. The serial production of smart started in 1998, after which Swatch Company left the project, and it was renamed to Smart GmbH. In 2002 based on smart appeared two new versions Roadster and Coupe, and we are going to talk about the first one in Smart Roadster Review.
Smart Roadster is a result of hard work, its evolved stuffing is outwardly visible in a branded kit, wide front spoiler and 6-spoke 17-inch Monoblock wheels with tires dimension 215/40. The interesting thing is that the wheels are fastened to the hubs just with three bolts. Another detail that catches the eye is rear drum brakes ... archaic, but likely enough for curb weight of 915 kg.
Front round lens are arranged vertically, each in its pit-recess. They give the car a kind of playful aggression. Taillights are separated with a small inscription; they are also made in the form of ovals under the stylish clear bubble. Solid rear dual exhaust pipe under the bumper completes the sporty image of a small convertible. If you try to be precise and classify this car by conventional standards, the shape of its body is closer to the targa. That is in essence a kind of cabrio, which roof is retracted only over passengers and the rear pillars and the glass stay in place.
Inside, the Smart is no less interesting and perhaps even more charming than outside. This applies both to the passenger compartment and the engine compartment. The last is located in the back and hides a 3-cylinder turbocharged engine capacity of 101 hp. This “herd of horses” paired with a 6-speed robotised gearbox is enough to ensure excellent dynamics of such a light car (9.8 seconds to 100 km / h). And the “maximum speed” is also impressive - 196 km / h. The drive in the best traditions of sports cars is carried out on the rear axle, spring suspension of which is dependent. The front suspension is spring, independent, McPherson type.
The cabin inside seems bigger than it looks from the outside. After a plurality of conventional forms similar to each other the interior decoration of this “kid” can please with the originality of lines, a certain expressionism and of course, a good quality of the materials used. The steering wheel (a little more than three turns lock to lock) does not change its position, but it does not prevent the driver to customize the seat position quite comfortably. Leather seats provide decent lateral support. There are aluminum lining on the pedals, the same is a knob of gearbox lever and handbrake.
Performance and Drive
The algorithm of maintaining the transmission lever is not like the conventional “automatic”. The rear gear is switches just like in the “manual”: the lever goes to the right and back. In sport mode it is moved to the left, in this case you can switch the transmissions with paddle selectors.
The control equipment is functionally divided into two parts. Before the eyes of the driver there are the “wells” of a speedometer with a monochrome display of the on-board computer and tachometer, and in the center of the front panel - the boost gauge and engine temperature controller. Multimedia system and the quality of its sound can easily compete with many cars of even higher class.
The vehicle gladly responds to the actions on the accelerator pedal, and the on-board computer hauntingly reminds to change gear “up”. If not achieving the driver's response, the electronic “brain” switches it independently; the same happens with slow down and reduced speed.
The suspension is quite stiff, and its sports orientation of settings is felt. During the passage of the highway spiral the car shows a tendency to understeer, the front wheels sometimes simply slide on the outside of the turn. For the mischievous nature and attractive magnet look you can forgive this Smart everything: inconvenience of getting in, small trunk, and even far from ideal driving.
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