Brabus-badged Smarts have always posed a unique challenge. To truly appreciate their capabilities, one must accept their limitations and adapt accordingly. These cars are not meant to drive like your average vehicle. Going fast in a Smart requires finesse and skill, especially when maneuvering around the quirks of the automated manual gearbox and the car’s tall body and narrow stance.
Engine, Transmission, and Acceleration
The Brabus Smart Car features an innovative engine that is an upgrade from the standard turbocharged Fortwo model. This engine, designed by Renault and also used in the Twingo GT, boasts a displacement of 898cc and 3 cylinders. It benefits from higher fuel pressure, improved induction and exhaust breathing, thanks to Brabus’ modifications such as refitted intakes and a sports exhaust system.
Power is directed exclusively to the rear axle, a consistent trait in all Smarts. This results in an impressive 0-62mph time of 9.5 seconds. However, the top speed is electronically limited to 103mph, though the Brabus Forfour can reach 112mph due to its longer wheelbase.
Highlights in Technical Terms
The Brabus Smart Car distinguishes itself from standard Smarts with its upgrades in suspension and engine performance. Compared to the dealer-fit Brabus setup found in other Smarts, the Brabus models feature 10mm lower springs and 20% firmer dampers. Additionally, an upgraded front anti-roll bar reduces roll by 9%.
The steering of the Brabus Smart Car has also been optimized. It incorporates a variable-ratio system with enhanced return torque compared to standard models. Furthermore, the ESP system has been fine-tuned to complement the car’s firmer and faster setup.
Driving the Brabus Fortwo is a unique experience in its price range due to its rear-engined layout and rear-wheel drive configuration. Despite its short wheelbase, Smart has compensated for this with a staggered tire setup – narrower front tires (185-section) and wider rear tires (205-section). This improves front grip, resulting in more manageable understeer and a balanced feel. The short wheelbase also allows for quick direction changes and responsive handling, making the car incredibly agile.
While the steering lacks feedback and initial responsiveness, it compensates with its quickness and extreme wheel angles. Despite its weight, the Brabus Smart Car feels nimble and responsive on the road.
However, the engine falls short when compared to the rest of the package. Although the performance is surprisingly sprightly for a car of this size, the Renault-sourced engine lacks character and excitement. Previous Brabus models had a more engaging three-cylinder engine, even with less weight to propel.
On the positive side, the dual-clutch transmission performs well, delivering acceptably quick shifts without punishing the car like a manual-equipped Twingo would.
Price and Rivals
Review Brabus Smart Car – Price and rivals
A Brabus Fortwo can be purchased for as little as £16,445. The Xclusive model, which we tested and includes sports seats, artificial leather trim, a touchscreen system with satnav, and two-tone paintwork options, starts at £19,615. Our customized test car exceeded £20,000 in price.
Comparatively, normal hot hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot 208 GTI offer better performance, practicality, and value for the same or even lower prices. However, it’s important to note that there is little overlap between buyers of Brabus Smarts and those interested in mainstream hot hatchbacks. The Brabus Fortwo stands out as a distinctive proposition that caters to a niche market.
In conclusion, the Brabus Smart Car 2014 is a unique offering. While it may not provide the same performance and practicality as its hot hatchback competitors, it offers an enjoyable driving experience in a compact and stylish package. For those who appreciate the charm of small cars, the Brabus Smart Car is worth considering.