It’s not a kit car honest

Image219_499709c85466d-lightboxMost peoples first impressions of any Smart car is that of a kit car.  What with the plastic interchangeable body panels, its smallness and quirkiness -who can blame them. I readily admit that was my own first impression.

I never really wanted a Smart Roadster or a Smart Car. I have always hankered for some weekend fun, a sportscar or GT would have been fantastic. This dream has been perpetually fuelled by my eldest brother as he would visit in various TVR’s, Lamborghini’s etc. The other small but significant issue was that of having a family. Whilst my brother had spawned cars, I had spawned children and when I finally got the Brabus, kiddie number 3 was on its way.

So with 3 children, limited budget and a hankering for speed, how on earth did I end up with a 2 seater Brabus Roadster Coupe?

The story spans about 3 years, but it started with a colleague of mine buying a Fortwo. After many comments questioning his sexuality, he took me out in it and I was surprised to find a rather well built car that, for its size, had some poke. Derisive I was no longer.

In fact I even considered one when it came to downsizing the ‘commuting car’. However, 5 seats won over 2 at that stage and I ended up with a Corsa for a while
Fast forward a year, and a friend of mine had bought a normal Roadster. He was regaling me about how good it was and to be honest, I still had the idea about it being a bit ‘kit carish’. He threw me the keys and said ‘give it some’.

Now compared to pretty much anything else on Auto-Journals, the Roadster’s ‘give it some’ is not that impressive, BUT… they are very light, very low, rear engined and – magic word – turbocharged. This gives a power to weight ratio better than cars with double the size engines. This was very apparent as I hurtled round the lanes in rural North Bucks, smiling like I have not smiled since my passenger ride in the BossCerbera. [Have you worked out who his brother is yet? -ed]

The original idea was to buy a standard Roadster and uprate it with a remap, suspension etc.  But the cost and effort seemed a bit silly when all this was available in the Brabus version.

I knew of the Brabus Roadster Coupe, the very low stance, massive tyres, glass rear; I thought it had overtones of a batmobile or a Z3 coupe.  It has always been commented on about how good my imagination is. And I liked it.

Decision made, wifey needed convincing (and Gordon Brown helped with that because the tax on my Corsa went up) and I found a perfect example in Kidderminster so one summer’s evening, I picked up the Brabus.

So first impressions:
God it was low, I mean really low. Lower than a TVR, lower than a Diablo. Then I drove it away, and God the ride was hard, I mean really hard, having been in several Tuscans, and the ride in those is almost limo like compared to my Go Kart. And that actually describes the first impressions. Small, low, light, surprisingly fast – my own road legal go kart!

As I was following my good lady home, I had not yet had the chance to stretch the legs of my go kart but the very next day, I found out how quick it was.

The Germans know a thing or two about engineering – especially Mercedes and Brabus. This is the reason I shouldn’t be surprised at the performance but it never ceases to amaze me. The fact that an engine the size of a large ride-on lawnmower can propel my Go Kart to 60 in about 8 seconds or so, and exceed the ton (can’t wait to get on a track to substantiate that claim… cough) is, quite frankly, astonishing! What I found most impressive – and occasionally disconcerting – was the grunt from 30 miles per hour to 60/70. Great for the roundabouts of Milton Keynes, sometimes challenging for wet roads.

Other peoples first impressions of the car were pretty consistent. Comments like ‘ Where’s Big Ears?’ and ‘it’s a kit car’ were soon dispelled as soon as I took them out. A particular supercar owner got out the car after a quickish run and stated ‘It’s a real car’.

Praise indeed!

Next tme:  Living with it.

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Steve Lloyd