Smart Fortwo Brabus review - Small car, big fun, huge price - Engine and gearbox

Far more capable and fun than we could have expected, but it's hard to ignore that price tag

Evo rating
Price
from £16,585
  • Cheeky, surprisingly agile
  • Expense, dynamically compromised due to its size and shape

Engine and gearbox

The Fortwo Brabus uses a derivation of the 898cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine found elsewhere in the Fortwo range. Here it develops 107bhp at 5750rpm and 125lb ft of torque from 2000rpm. Those figures are identical to those of the Renault Twingo GT, and come courtesy of improved breathing on the induction side, a new exhaust to expel gases quicker from each cylinder, and higher fuel pressure.

The biggest change however is to the transmission. Unlike the Twingo, and unlike the old automated manual that left you in the lurch between shifts, the new Brabus uses a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Firstly, that gives you an extra cog to play with compared to the Twingo's three-pedal manual, but secondly, it means fairly quick, smooth shifts - an alien concept to previous Fortwo owners.

While the gearbox isn't a classic example of its type, it works perfectly well in this application and it's arguably more pleasant to use than the slightly obstinate manual in the Twingo GT, while the closer ratios lend a little more urgency to the Smart's acceleration. A shame, then, that you can't enjoy a stirring soundtrack as you flip between gears - while there's a promising burble at idle, the note becomes flat and indistinctive as the revs climb.

Most Popular

All-electric Ferrari confirmed for 2025 reveal
Ferrari badge
Ferrari

All-electric Ferrari confirmed for 2025 reveal

Ferrari has confirmed its first EV, but first three new models are due in the coming months
15 Apr 2021
Jaguar XJ41 – Dead on arrival
Jaguar XJ41
Jaguar

Jaguar XJ41 – Dead on arrival

The blighted ’80s ‘F-type’, the demise of which led to the creation of the Jaguar XK8 and launched a new era for Aston Martin
8 Apr 2021
Peugeot 508 PSE 2021 review – high performance hybrid takes on S4 and M340i
Peugeot 508 PSE – front
Peugeot 508

Peugeot 508 PSE 2021 review – high performance hybrid takes on S4 and M340i

New 355bhp petrol-hybrid 508 from Peugeot Sport Engineered has Audi’s S4 licked
14 Apr 2021