History of the smart roadster – part 1

The revival of compact and purist roadsters – for simple driving pleasure.

With the launch of the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés in April 2003 the concept of the compact and purist roadster was revived, with the light weight, purist form and small efficient turbo charged engine mated to modern electronics and safety to capture the roadster spirit of the 60’s in a modern more efficient manner.

Powerful and Lightweight

With an engine output of around 60 kW (82bhp/117.4bhp per litre from 698cc) and a weight of around just 790 kilogram’s (815kg for the Roadster-coupé) at 13.2 kilograms per kilowatt (9.6 kg per bhp) the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés offer a low weight/power ratio that has a positive effect on the handling as well as economy the fuel consumption of the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés will be less than 5.5 litres per 100 kilometres (50+mpg)


Purist driving experience – a modern approach

Dynamic, agile two-seaters offer a unique driving experience where the focus is not on the destination, but on the journey there. The combination of direct handling, excellent cornering ability and comfort make it possible to experience classic small car fun with modern fittings and safety.

Not a conventional automatic

To make starting on a hill as comfortable as in cars with automatic transmission and a torque converter (they would not roll back on a slight incline), the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés have an anti-stall assist AAS. After releasing the brake pedal when stationary ESP keeps the wheels braked for 0.7 seconds. This means that there is enough time to move the foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal without the car rolling forwards or backwards on account of the disengaged clutch. This also protects the clutch and makes it possible to drive off without the assistance of the hand brake, even on steep slopes.

Open top motoring pleasure

A soft top and a hardtop which can be used together or alternatively, the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés offer their owners maximum open-air driving pleasure. As well as a two-piece removable plastic hardtop that can be stowed and transported in the rear luggage compartment, an electrically operated folding soft top is available as an option for both the Smart Roadster and the Smart Roadster Coupés.

Looking the part

The short body overhangs, pronounced body-contoured wheelhouses, generously dimensioned wheels and low vehicle height give the cars a sporty appearance. The designers attached great importance to balanced proportions with an elongated front lid and a passenger compartment set a long way back. Their goal was a modern interpretation of classic roadster


Compact and fun to drive

A size concept with the briefest dimensions and a low centre of gravity means that the Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés are not only extremely compact and fun to drive, they are also very comfortable and suitable for everyday use.
Thanks to a wheelbase of 2360 millimetres and a track width of 1357 millimetres at the front and 1392 millimetres at the rear, the roadster has the ideal prerequisites for markedly agile handling. The weight distribution to the front and rear axle is 44:56 percent.

Small but capable

The occupants’ low seating position allows a total vehicle height of just 1192 millimetres. With a vehicle length of 3427 millimetres and a width of 1615 millimetres it was possible to realise two luggage compartments in the front end and the rear end. A capacity of 59 litres in the front and 86 or 189 litres respectively in the rear (Smart Roadster and Smart Roadster Coupés) provides sufficient stowage space for this type of vehicle.

Hard suitcases or clothes bags plus various small items can be stowed under the Smart Roadster’s flat boot lid. The glazed rear section of the Smart Roadster Coupés extends the usable volume so that there is space for a suitcase, a clothes bag and a sports bag, for example. When the hardtop is taken off it can also be transported in the rear luggage compartment. The special made-to-measure luggage which is part of the smart ware programme also makes optimal use of the space available.

The purist interior typical to sports cars is comparatively spacious. The feeling of space is given by strongly sloping side windows and windscreen.

Driving experience

The total spring travel of 125 millimetres at the front and 122 millimetres at the rear allows a high degree of ride comfort with exceptional agility – compared with the standard in this vehicle class. The axle load shift is very slight when accelerating and braking on account of the low centre of gravity, which only slightly restricts the usable spring travel.

As the passenger and vehicle centres of gravity are very low and close to each other, the driver feels the vehicle response very directly, i.e. without misleading lever force. This is why the roll angle is perceived as extremely slight when cornering.

Read more about roadster innovations when we post next month!