The stan­dard Smart Fortwo has been given ex­tra grunt by Brabus. How has it changed things? Jack Evans finds out.

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - News -

WHAT’S NEW? Thanks to its in­no­va­tive and quirky de­sign, the Smart car is one of the most recog­nis­able on the road. The lat­est model brought with it greater lev­els of tech­nol­ogy and com­fort. Now, es­teemed tun­ing com­pany Brabus have taken the Fortwo and breathed a lit­tle ex­tra fire into it.

The car’s three-cylin­der en­gine now has ex­tra power, and the sus­pen­sion has been low­ered to give the Smart not just bet­ter han­dling, but a meaner stance on the road. Add to that a mus­cu­lar bodykit, and you have a Smart that dis­tances it­self some­what from the cutesy im­age that comes with the stan­dard car.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, the Smart Brabus Fortwo is slightly more ag­gres­sive-look­ing than the city car it’s based on. You get a sports bodykit, 17-inch wheels and a rather sporty-look­ing chrome ex­haust - which work to­gether to give the car a much more sub­stan­tial ap­pear­ance on the road, and one which is much closer to that found on par­ent com­pany Mercedes’ ve­hi­cles.

Smarts have ex­pe­ri­enced vary­ing pop­u­lar­ity since the first City- Coupe hit the road in 1998. The brand’s had its many ups and downs - but ap­pears to be re­turn­ing to form. With bet­ter lev­els of re­li­a­bil­ity, as well as con­sis­tently good safety scores, Smart is a brand that very much seems on the up-and-up. SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY At just 2,740mm long, you’d be for­given for think­ing the Smart Brabus Fortwo wouldn’t of­fer too much in­te­rior space. Yes, com­pared to a con­ven­tional, it isn’t too roomy, but given its diminu­tive foot­print, there’s a lot more room than you think. There’s about 260 litres of boot space which, thanks to its depth, is more than enough for a week­end bag.

There are plenty of cub­bies in the in­te­rior too, with a neat drawer that slides from un­der­neath the gear­stick - ideal if you want to keep items like mo­bile phones out of sight. The Smart might be small, but it’s not dif­fi­cult to live with what­so­ever.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL De­spite its boxy pro­por­tions, the Smart is ac­tu­ally quite the hoot to drive. Thanks to Brabus’ at­ten­tion to the sus­pen­sion, there’s not much body roll. The en­gine, when linked to a sur­pris­ingly sharp six-speed dual-clutch gear­box, pro­vides more than enough power which means that on coun­try roads it’s a fair bit of fun.

It’s not too un­set­tled on the mo­tor­way ei­ther, thanks to cruise con­trol. It buzzes a fair bit at higher speeds, but it’s not too tir­ing a place to be for a longer drive.

How­ever, the Brabus is best suited to around town. It nips in and out of traf­fic with ease, and park­ing is equally sim­ple. You ac­tu­ally start look­ing out for the small­est pos­si­ble spa­ces just to test your­self - and the car.

Fuel econ­omy sits at a re­spectable 62.7mpg com­bined, which means you won’t have to fill up all that of­ten, and the small tank doesn’t cost the earth to fill ei­ther.

VALUE FOR MONEY The Smart Brabus Fortwo starts at £16,320, ris­ing to £19,135 for the higher-spec Xclu­sive model. There’s also a cabrio ver­sion, though this com­mands a pre­mium, with the base car re­tail­ing for £18,105 and £21,275 for the cabrio.

This is a fair amount of money for such a small car. When you com­pare it to a stan­dard hatch­back, it does seem ex­pen­sive, while be­ing able to of­fer only a lim­ited amount of prac­ti­cal­ity, as well as room for only two. WHO WOULD BUY ONE? If you’re not wor­ried about trans­port­ing too many things or peo­ple, but more con­cerned about low­cost city motoring, then the Smart Brabus Fortwo could be just the car for you. It looks stylish, has de­cent lev­els of stan­dard equip­ment, and won’t cost the earth to run.

Easy to park and nim­ble to drive, the Smart Brabus Fortwo of­fers the per­fect so­lu­tion for peo­ple who don’t want to feel stressed by lim­ited park­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. It won’t turn its nose up at a long mo­tor­way run ei­ther, which makes it a re­spectable all-rounder.

If you’re look­ing for a lot of space then the lit­tle Smart won’t be for you. How­ever, if low-cost and small-size motoring is what you’re af­ter, then you’d do well to choose the Brabus Fortwo.

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