Last month I boldly strapped myself into a Smart fortwo cabrio BRABUS. With 102bhp and 147 NM of torque, you may not think that is particularly scary…..however, it is one of THE scariest cars I have ever driven!
At an extortionate £17,930 you can own this exact baby Brabus, but be prepared to purchase a neck brace and get your affairs in order if you do so. In standard option-less trim you can expect to pay a hefty £16,750.
From the outside the Smart Brabus coup looks nice, with gunmetal alloys and exclusive Brabus spoiler, side skirts, titanium coloured headlights, and central twin exit exhausts; it certainly stands out from the other fortwo’s!
LED DRL’s are standard on this trim, as is the colour coded safety cell. The fully automatic fabric roof can be retracted at any speed, either halfway (as if it was a sunroof) or fully down for the full coupé effect. The key fob can also retract the roof.
This is where the car gets scary….getting in and firing up the little beast welcomes you with a nice burbling deep exhaust note. Rather impressive from the three cylinder turbo engine. The great sound continues throughout the rev range, I didn’t at all find it too loud or too noisy it was just nice.
Brabus have decided to put this smart on 16” wheels up front and 17” wheels at the rear, these sit on Brabus sports suspension, which is 10mm, lower than the standard car. The ride is very bumpy and crashy, I was travelling along a country road doing 60MPH when I approached a slightly uneven section, all of a sudden the car jumped and hopped all over the road, ESP started cutting in as I was heading toward a field! Fortunately slamming on the brakes and pulling it the other way saved me.
Cornering is just as bad in the Brabus, the lowered suspension hasn’t helped a great deal as you turn in and are welcomed by lots of body roll. It gives you very little confidence during spirited driving.
Next is the automatic gearbox, when in fully auto mode you accelerate….the car red lines, waits what seems an age before whacking into the next gear. This makes the car jolt violently due to the pause between the shift up. It continues right the way through the gears, and if you are cruising at say 40 and go to overtake, you press the throttle fully to the floor and the car will again pause, rev, then kick you into the gear below the one you’re in, or sometimes two below the one you’re in! Again this violently jolts your head back as the acceleration kicks in. To me, it seems that Brabus haven’t even looked into tweaking the gearbox at all. In comparison to a normal smart the pause is the same, but due to the increased power you notice the lurching/jolting far more! This is why I advised purchasing a neck brace!
Inside the expensive baby Brabus is ok; it looks the same as any other smart but with extra Brabus bits. It does make the car feel more premium than a basic spec model, but at the end of the day it’s still a Smart car!
The extras include a Brabus 3 spoke leather wheel, leather dash, Brabus instruments, heated leather seats, Brabus logo embossed head restraints, sports pedals and velour floor mats. Our car had £210 worth of surround sound speakers, but we didn’t test them out as the exhaust sounded so good!
This model had quite a few extras, the most expensive being Power Steering at £325, at £70 less than £18k I can think of a number of fast cars I’d much rather have over this. A second hand 370z can be picked up for the same money or less! You would be crazy to buy one of these; the ride is hard, crashy and unsafe in my opinion, while the jerky gearbox makes the car even less desirable.
It is sad as the car looks great, and I’m sure with a few tweaks Brabus could sort out the gearbox and improve the ride. However, for the time being, the only thing I liked about the car was the exhaust sound. The Electric Smart we test drove earlier on in the year was way more fun!
Smart fortwo cabrio BRABUS – Expensive, crashy ride, jerky gearbox, looks the part, great exhaust note.
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter