Rate It: The Smart Roadster Was Like a German Kei Car

Where the Fortwo was built has an upright city car, the Smart Roadster from 2003 was an attempt to make a sports car out of the relatively pedestrian platform.

Available with either a Targa-style removable roof or a powered soft-top, the Roadster was mechanically similar to the Fortwo with its use of the 600cc, turbocharged inline-three and six-speed “semi-automatic” transmission.

Although maximum output for the Roadster was around 80 horsepower, customers could opt for a version tuned by Brabus that put down nearly 100 horsepower.

It’s said that while sales were only expected to break even, the number of Roadsters sold in the first year alone doubled Smart’s early estimates. Despite that, the Roadster quickly became a financial loss for the company, as a vast number of the cars required warranty work, forcing Smart to cut production in 2005.

Was the Smart Roadster a German take on the iconic Japanese Kei car, or was this little more than sheep in wolf’s clothing?

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