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smart roadster

Smart

Review

SMART'S forthcoming roadster and roadster-coupe promise motorists a 'sports car for the price of a supermini'.

At the cars' unveiling in Berlin, DaimlerChrysler executives said their launch next year would mark the start of a smart product offensive – which will include the launch of a four-seater smart in a couple of years' time.

The manufacturer will begin taking orders for the roadsters from UK customers when they are displayed at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham next month.

Although pricing has yet to be announced, a well-equipped roadster is likely to cost in the region of £12,000 to £13,000. By comparison, a standard smart costs from £6,265 on-the-road.

The open-top roadster and roadster-coupe both feature removable roof panels and exchangeable body panels and are powered by a 698cc engine.

Right-hand drive versions of the cars will go on sale from September next year, but the manufacturer will sell left-hand drive models in the UK earlier in a bid to stave off the number of grey imports brought into the country.

Although not the most obvious choice as a company car, Mercedes-Benz passenger cars director Dermot Kelly said some of the two-seater roadster's attributes may prove appealing to the corporate driver. He said: 'They will be low in carbon dioxide emissions and road tax and insurance should prove cheap. They will get a sports car for the price of a supermini.' Kelly said he expected the models to prove popular as a second car.

The roadsters will be offered with three option packages:

  • Safety – featuring front fog lamps, side airbags and electrically-adjustable and heated door mirrors.
  • Comfort – consisting of a trip computer, power steering and cruise control.
  • Sports – offering a three-spoke leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles and wider light-alloy wheels.

    Professor Jurgen Hubbert, member of the Daimler- Chrysler board of management, said: 'The launch of these cars is a milestone in the history of smart. It also represents a personal milestone for me, signalling the launch of the smart product offensive after years of hard groundwork to establish the brand.

    'With the smart city-coupe we have managed to convince people that four seats are not always essential to the concept of mobility. And with the smart roadster and roadster-coupe I am sure we will be able to convince people that sheer driving pleasure is not dependent on horsepower or the available budget.'

    Hubbert added: 'What I find particularly appealing about these two cars is that they remind me of roadster days from my wilder years.

    'Times when driving really did mean pure, unadulterated pleasure.'

    Smart president Andreas Renschler said: 'This development means we are moving from being a single-product manufacturer to a multi-product manufacturer.

    'This is not just a significant step for the brand. For smart, the market launch of the roadster-coupe is a major contribution towards reaching break-even in 2004. The next important milestone in our product offensive will then be the four-seater smart.'

    Smart is currently developing the four-seater with Mitsubishi and it is due for a European launch in the spring of 2004, where it will join the existing line-up of the city-coupe cabrio and crossblade and the roadster and roadster-coupe.

    Model: smart roadster/coupe
    Engine (cc): 698
    Power (bhp/rpm): 80/5,250
    Torque (lb-ft/rpm): 81/3,000
    Max speed (mph): 108
    0-60mph (sec): 10.9
    Fuel consumption (mpg): N/A
    CO2 emissions (g/km): N/A
    On sale: September 2003
    Price (est): £12,000–£13,000

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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