Smart Roadster Brabus | Spotted

Brabus is positioning itself to exploit new revenue streams – wouldn't be the first time…

By Matt Bird / Monday, 30 October 2023 / Loading comments

It’s hard not to think what might have been for the Smart Roadster. After all, here was a small, light, stiff, stylish sports car with the might of Mercedes-Benz behind it. The drop-top Smart and its coupe sibling should have been the car to get enthusiasts behind the brand, to build a legacy that proved downsized engines and small footprints didn’t have to mean downsized fun. 

As it was, the Roadster didn’t quite hit the spot. The semi-automatic gearbox frustrated when new, as did a high price. As used prospects, issues around leaking have put plenty off. Not to mention the idea that you could pay similar money for a much bigger engine elsewhere. There have always been reasons not to buy a Smart, then. But also plenty in its favour: an unmistakeable, thrummy three-cylinder soundtrack, the freedom and fun of piloting a car less than 3.5m long and 800kg in weight, plus the feel-good factor of owning a (sort of) shrunken supercar. Even 20 years later, nothing attracts attention at this money like a Smart Roadster. 

The well-documented reliability issues have meant dwindling numbers over the years. When repair costs mount as values fall, it becomes uneconomical; without the sort of following cars like the Mazda MX-5 enjoy, spending a lot on sorting a Smart out becomes hard to justify. The flipside of that is that plenty of those remaining are now really, really good, cared for by enthusiasts with all the advice adhered to (store it in a dry place and keep the servicing up-to-date). 

This Roadster looks fab. It’s a Brabus, which can be identified by the lower ride height and blingy rims. It brought more power and more grip than standard, though typically the standard car is preferred as a driving experience. No bother – this looked too good to miss. It’s only had two owners from new, the second of those since 2008, and the seller promises a great history with it. There are less than 50,000 miles under the pristine monoblock alloy wheels (with four matching tyres), and an interior that was never known for being tough or expensive has stood the test of time well. 

There are cheaper Smart Roadsters around, though invariably they don’t look quite as good. Plenty will have a lot of owners, perhaps as the reality of its quirks takes more getting used to than expected. The Smart’s sports car contemporaries remain available for similar money as well, even if they’ll offer up quite different two-seat experiences: see Fiat Barchetta and MG TF. Amazing to think there was a time with more than one affordable sports car on sale…

Those familiar with modern automatic gearboxes will find the Smart takes a bit of getting used to. Like so many performance cars of the mid-2000s, it’s such a shame they didn’t benefit from later transmission tech. But those familiar with heavy, enormous, complicated sports cars will find plenty to enjoy here as well, from 50mpg to mid-engined thrills for £8k. Just make sure to pack light…


Engine: 698cc three-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed automated manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 101@5,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 96@2,500rpm
MPG: 54.3
CO2: 121g/km
Year registered: 2006
Recorded mileage: 47,000
Price new: £16,995 (2004)
Yours for: £8,500

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