The wife's gone mad and bought one - Alanovich
Well, well. After years of nagging me about changing cars too often and generally banging on about what I'm going to have next, my dear wife has taken a fit in her head and dropped here usual mantra of "be sensible".

She's gorn out and bought a Smart Roadster as a fun car for the summer, to go alongside her sensbile VW Touran Mummy wagon.

It's a 2005 example with 19000 on the clock, and in very nice condition. Dark blue at the moment, but I don't doubt that a change of panels will be on the cards once she gets bored with that.

How does it go? Well, I'm really pretty impressed with it. For a car with only 0.7 litres under the bonnet, it really flies, and it handles very nicely too. It's a bit like being back in my old MG Midget, without the RAC patrol as a constant companion hopefully. An absolute joy to wind the roof and windows down on beautiful days like those which have just passed this weekend, and my 4-year old boy is utterly in love with it and just wants to be taken out driving all the time. Perhaps I'll make a car addict out of him after all.

I took the car straight down to our local main dealer after buying it for a thorough service and check over, nothing major to worry about so the signs are good that we haven't bought a lemon. They advised us that the top mounts look like they might go soon, but I guess that's what happens on cars like this.

The gearbox is a bit of a funny one though. In auto mode it's a bit hesitant on gear changes, but I understand from HJ's appraisal that this is normal. The dealer did adjust the clutch actuator, which they said was a common thing to need doing to keep the gear changes as smooth as possible. My solution? Stick it in manual mode, it's much more rewarding and really makes it a fun drive.

The car has a wonderful engine note too, better than anything I've driven since my Alfa 33s years back, and to have the engine in the back is a bit of a novelty since my VW Beetle 1303 student days.

Altogether a great little buy. Does anyone else on here have any experience of the model, or any tips / things to look out for?
The wife's gone mad and bought one - stunorthants26
I had a Fortwo back in 2005 and I loved it, I would have kept it had a need for a van not been more pressing. The gearbox is something you get used to, but with practice and an idea about how it works, you can make smooth if not quick gearchanges.
In auto mode, you learn when it is likely to change and can then force its hand by lifting off the throttle a bit and then squeezing it as soon as it changes - the only thing i found was that in auto mode getting it to change into 6th was a long wait so I often did that myself. Its certainly alot better than the MMT box ive sampled in Toyotas.

I would dearly love one of these and congrats on not buying an MX-5, the default choice - worthy but so predictable!

I understand they need proper servicing, but they are reasonably well made - can I ask how much you paid for it?
The wife's gone mad and bought one - Alanovich
Stu, she paid 6k for it at cargiant (I'm becoming a bit of a regular there).

My slight worry was that the car only had a main dealer recorded service once, at 6500 miles in 2006. There was no service book nor receipts, but I have the feeling that the previous owner got it serviced independently once the warranty was up. Hence my taking it to a main dealer immediately to get a full "B" service including the spark plugs and have it checked over for any faults or concerns, just in case. Was relieved that they gave it an almost 100% clean bill of health.

Once we get the logbook in my wife's name, I'll contact the one previous owner to see if they've got any other history.

Edited by Webmaster on 12/05/2009 at 01:35

The wife's gone mad and bought one - stunorthants26
Chances are, at this age, even if it hasnt had a service in several years and given its done few miles, it wont make a whole lot of difference.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - AlanGowdy
My son has one of these. Performance is modest for a sports car (unless you have the Brabus) but it seems quicker as you are low to the ground and it goes round corners like it's on rails. The 3-cylinder turbocharged engine sounds great - like a mini Porsche 911. Fuel economy is excellent - upper forties.
Problems? If it has air-conditioning beware of a recurring fault - one of the aluminium pipes is prone to fatigue-fracture and losing all the gas as a result. It's happened twice to my son and he's given up on it. Many people have experienced problems with rain leaking in past seals on the frameless windows or the sliding fabric roof. Also there's a box of electronics - I think it's under the dash but I'm sure someone else can expand on that - that can suffer from water ingress and cost a lot to replace.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - AlanGowdy
Also your wife should join the forum at

The wife's gone mad and bought one - daveyjp is where you can spend your time now - lots of owners experiences on there.

We had two coupe smarts, my wife still hankers after another. My main advice is to get it serviced regularly as being a low capacity with a turbo it likes clean oil. There's no sump plug - oil is sucked out of the filler tube.

There's another thread on here about remaps - we had our second one uprated from 54 to about 80bhp for £150 and it transformed the car.

Gearbox is best left in manual, auto is for heavy urban traffic.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - Alanovich
Cheers, all. The car is already rated as 80bhp from the factory, so I guess that was the standard on later models.

Shame they stopped making them, I'm really impressed with ours.

It has no aircon so far as I can see, so no worries there. The rubber guide on the driver's window is a bit worn and hinders the window winding up properly, so I guess we'll get a new one. And the roof catches on its rubber guides when closing, but cargiant have promised us a new pair and will post them on to us (they offered to fit them but I can't be bothered dragging back to Wormwood Scrubs again). Thumbs up for cargiant, once again.

Edited by Alanovich on 11/05/2009 at 12:04

The wife's gone mad and bought one - AlanGowdy
They are fun to drive. Enjoy.

Most were 80 bhp - the lower powered version sold in very small numbers and I guess would not be much fun on main roads. Keep a lookout for leaks (rain that is). When my son was looking to buy one an independent Smart dealer ventured the information that they all leak to some extent!
The wife's gone mad and bought one - MVP
Some friends have I think a 2003 model - the achilles heal is the roof.

Their's died but they are not available as a spare part - it was stuck in their garage for months as the roof had jammed open, and it was impossible to shut

Several months later they got a second hand one for over a £1000, a few months later this has broken too....

They love the car, but the convertible roof is a major drawback

The wife's gone mad and bought one - boxsterboy
I had a 4-2 Brabus and would second the 'leave it in manual unless in heavy city traffic' suggestion. They are great fun but without care the engines are not known for their longevity.

I tried a Roadster in the showroom but found it too low to get in and out of.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - J500ANT
The roof on the roadster isnt normally known to fail, thats the older fortwo/city cabrio model.

I had a roadster BRABUS - it killed my back but I loved every minute of it. My only worry with them now is the regular reports of leaks causing ECU failure at considerable cost. It was the leaks that meant smart/Merc gave up on them, rumour (and it was purely rumour) suggested a ?3000 warranty bill per car (or a ?3000 loss per unit sold - I cant recall which).

Enjoy it, but keep an eye out for damp footwells.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - mikeyb
Used to have one, and to some extent still miss it. It had a nice character, but the slack gearbox (why oh why didnt they fit a nice slick manual) and leaks are a draw back. IMO the build quality was pretty shoddy, and they do appear to be a little bit like you either get a really good one or a really bad one - no in between. I was lucky - only problem I had in 18 months was the slipping clutch, and leaks around the wing mirriors.

The ECU is prome to self distructing due to water ingress - think its called a SAM.

Can recomend lots of helpful chaps there, and also recomendations on independants as most Smart dealers are hopeless. My experience is that they sell them on the side to Mercs a bit like any other dealer punts out old part X's down the side of the main forecourt - i.e. you are noth worth and could afford a real car!
The wife's gone mad and bought one - Alanovich
The Smart dealer in Reading (part of the Merc dealers) seemed very good when I used them last week. The service guy was very helpful with tips about maintaining the roof (wet it and leave it folded for a few hours every now and again), and gave me good advice about watching out for leaks and how to close the roof and fit the bits at the top of the windows back on properly in order to stop leaks. Seemed like they really knew the model well and cared about doing the right thing by the customer.

The service sheet was very thorough and it pointed out a few bits and pieces which may need attention soon (i.e. the top mounts I mentioned earlier), without any pressure to get them done now. I quite liked that.

I had never considered owning a Merc before (I am very prestige brand averse), but found myself getting quite excited over a couple of C-class estates they had on the forecourt - perhaps I'll consider getting one when the time comes to change one or other of our family cars. So long as the dealer remains good with the Roadster, they may well get some nice business for a "proper" car off me! The bonus is that the dealer is a very pleasant 1-mile stroll from my house.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - ifithelps
..The bonus is that the dealer is a very pleasant 1-mile stroll from my house...

And they appear to do a decent job as well?

Worth using whatever make they sell.

The wife's gone mad and bought one - Alanovich
Yes, I was wondering if they'd like to service my VW Touran and Mazda 6. Is there any inherent problem in using another make's main dealer for servicing? My one concern would be with the Touran - a 2.0 TDi. Would they get the type of engine oil right?
The wife's gone mad and bought one - ifithelps
...Would they get the type of engine oil right?...

Does anyone? :)

I'd ask them about servicing other makes, assuming the VW and Mazda are out of warranty.

Merc charges are said to be high, but I bet they would not charge the same for a service on a new 600SEL as they would on an 70,000 mile Mazda.

As an aside, Ford dealers are offering services for 'older Fords' at reduced rates.

Maybe Mazda and VW will follow suit.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - Alanovich
Hmm. The VW is a 2008 58, 4k miles only. Well within warranty. The 6 is a 2006 55, 28k on the clock and has a Warranty Direct warranty.
The wife's gone mad and bought one - ifithelps
You could give 'em a try with the Mazda when the time comes.

Wouldn't think that would break the terms of the warranty.

Worth finding out what you have to do service-wise to maintain that, anyway.

Edited by ifithelps on 12/05/2009 at 12:13