Let there be light

brabussmart7_2_4946db06bf41c-lightboxI like the fact that Smart always take down your additional items and give you a report back at the end to show that they have at least investigated a problem or noted something for the next visit.

There’s something to be said for shorter service intervals as well, at least you get to know the dealer and person looking after your car. It’s nice to know that some of the mechanics keep tabs on the online communities and even these journals for tips and tricks or common concerns.

£135 lighter with the handbrake slack tightened, clutch slightly adjusted and a knocking noise traced to slightly loose top mounts on the suspension which were tightened back up and it’s all running well again, spinning up the still fresh rears in 1st and 2nd showing it’s approval for nice cold winter air and the 99RON fuel.

A few readers and forum friends have commented that I should be more critical, though like the Alfa auto-journalists, I can live quite easily with car character foibles. For a change I’ll air a few of my main grievances, though even they are fairly minor. The main ones for me are the clarity of the dials and the headlights.

The standard Smart speedo from the For2 goes round to 85 on the dial which makes a nice legible sweep and makes the car seem faster as the needle spins round. On the standard Roadster they have compressed the display a bit to make it read a bit higher but on the Brabus they have taken this a bit too far with a single sweep of the small dial running all the way to a slightly optimistic140mph. The combination of the small calibration, the dark red on dark grey dials (which are almost impossible to read in sunlight and are as bad as the photo) and the thickness of the needle itself, causes you to end up going through 30 limit speed cameras at 25 just encase as 3 or 4 mph can be hidden behind the needle. Not many cameras up here but it could be an issue if you lived in the city.

The lighting issue has more of a daily impact at this time of the year; I’m lucky that I do most of my driving on fairly quiet roads and can have main beam on a lot of the time but sometimes the lack of light can force you to slow down – glare from 4x4s whose lights are at eye level doesn’t help either. Main beam is fine with the upper lights giving a good spread and distance, the lower ones operate as the dipped beam though so the low power and low position combine to make them a bit rubbish, especially if they are covered in salty road spray.

My old VX220 had a similar projector lamp setup and low light position and wasn’t much better than the smart so it is probably a sacrifice you have to live with. Brighter bulbs should definitely be on the card once I’ve looked around for the best fitment though if xenon lights were an option that would probably be the only way to get a major improvement. On the plus side at least the dials become nice and legible at night.





Alan Tait