Smart Roadster Brabus

Keen to immerse myself in the full ownership experience, I decided to go on the annual Smart London-to-Brighton rally. You know, slide the roof back, scoot down to the south coast, look at the sea, eat chips, come home. But the nice people at Smart had another idea. They were bringing over the one-off (but we made ten just to be sure) Brabus Roadster V6; did I want to lead the rally in it? Erm, okay.

Keen to immerse myself in the full ownership experience, I decided to go on the annual Smart London-to-Brighton rally. You know, slide the roof back, scoot down to the south coast, look at the sea, eat chips, come home. But the nice people at Smart had another idea. They were bringing over the one-off (but we made ten just to be sure) Brabus Roadster V6; did I want to lead the rally in it? Erm, okay.

Someone had warned me that the London-Brighton thing has become a huge event on the Smart calendar but nothing prepares you for the sight of Sandown Racecourse covered in a sea of Smarts and their owners.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Subscribe now and get your first 5 issues for £5 or buy the latest issue in all good newsagents!

Now I know I was meant to lead the rally but I barely saw another Smart on the run to Brighton and for good reason; the Brabus V6 is rather fast. The extra muscle is gained by splicing two stock Roadster three-cylinder motors to create a 1.4-litre, twin blower V6. And even if this hand-made car is worth £330,000 and the man who built it is in the passenger seat, it'd be rude not to let rip.

Interestingly, the V6 has new software programming to go with its different gearbox - lifted from the ForFour diesel - that shifts faster than my normal Roadster and blips on downshifts. This is a better paddle 'box, right down to the crisp click of the paddles, which exposes the imprecision of the same controls on the standard car. Overall the V6 has a distinctly meatier, more aggressive feel that would play well in the standard Roadster. I guess it's what happens when the car becomes more Brabus, less Smart.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

We arrived at Brighton ahead of pretty much every other car, all 1500 of them. Told you this was a big event. Wandering around the massed Smarts, it's amazing what people do to these things, especially the original ForTwo. There are plenty running crazy bodykits and snarling engine upgrades, and they're joined by a Smart with full Disney character livery; one entirely covered in blue fur; and not to be outdone, someone dressed their Roadster as a shark. Nice. I've got this theory that the original Smart is the true modern Mini; radical engineering layout, remarkable passenger space for its size, devoted owners with a dedicated tuning and modifying scene. People really love their Smarts.

Back from Brighton, mine needed a service, at only 7000 miles. Smart Chiswick did the work in two hours, washed it and gave me a Kinder egg for my troubles. Mind you, so they should when what amounts to a glorified oil-change costs £167. Still, much though I'd fancy a Roadster V6, I bet the servicing on that's even worse.

Running Costs

Date acquiredMay 2004
Total mileage7130
Costs this month£167(service)
Mileage this month927
MPG this month43.2
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/porsche/911/201958/porsche-911-gt3-vs-gt3-rs-vs-gt2-rs-track-battle
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 GT3 vs GT3 RS vs GT2 RS - track battle

Porsche’s GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS are the most hardcore of the 911 breed, but pitched head‑to‑head which will we crown champion?
15 Nov 2019
Visit/ferrari/201950/new-ferrari-roma-612bhp-198mph-gt-car-joins-the-range
Ferrari

New Ferrari Roma: 612bhp, 198mph GT car joins the range

Ferrari has expanded its GT car range with the V8 powered Ferrari Roma
14 Nov 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
15 Nov 2019
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019