Most of us know Smart as a division of Daimler that makes the cute little microcar. But the brand isn’t called Smart because it represented a particularly smart idea. In fact, being an idea originally mooted by Swatch Group CEO Nicolas Hayek, and presented to Daimler, the name is just an acronym for Swatch Mercedes Art. While the original car, which is still in production, did what it was meant to, Smart tried a few different things with it, which didn’t have the desired result.
One such was the Roadster, Smart’s attempt at making a two-door, two-seat sportscar with a retractable roof. On paper it looked like a great idea on the lines of Mazda MX-5 and the Honda S 2000. However, the model, launched in 2003, was powered by a 700cc three-cylinder engine that made 60 horsepower in base form and just over 80 horsepower in its sportiest form. Mated to an awkward, confused semi-automatic gearbox, the asthmatic lump couldn’t lug the puny roadster from nought to 100kph any quicker than 11 seconds. It was no sportscar.
Funnily enough, despite the lack of oomph and excitement and the relatively high cost considering what
it offered in comparison with larger, more powerful Japanese sportscars, Smart managed to sell a decent number of these Roadsters. However, mechanical glitches that resulted in expensive warranty repair proved costly, and parent company Daimler decided to pull the plug on the model after just over two years in production. Not the worst thing to have been conceived by Daimler, but not the finest either.