The new Smart BRABUS recently celebrated its world debut at the Bejing Auto Show. Smart’s most recent creations will be hitting the showrooms in Europe this month and we got the chance to experience the new ‘pocket rocket’ in Düsseldorf this week. In front of the Maritim Hotel Düsseldorf a colorful collection of Smart BRABUS models were awaiting us.

BRABUS Press Test Drive 2016; smart BRABUS fortwo cabrio; Exte

Engine and performance
As we know from previous collaborations between Smart and Brabus, the Brabus models will be the most powerful cars of the Smart range. The Smart Brabus comes as a ForTwo, ForTwo Carbio and the ForFour. All cars have the same 0.9 liter three-cylinder engine. Thanks to Brabus rated power and maximum torque have been increased by 5 kW and 23 Nm, respectively, to 80 kW/109 hp at 5750 rpm and 170 Nm at 2000 rpm. The normal Smart models will give you a maximum of 75kW and 90hp. The extra power output will get the ForTwo from 0 to 100 km/h in a respectable 9.5 seconds, while the Brabus ForFour boasts a top speed of up to 180 km/h.

Besides the more powerful engine several other modifications have been made to improve the sporty performance of the Brabus cars.

The car now comes with a Brabus sport suspension with an anti-roll bar on the front axle reducing the roll tendency by 9% while the ESP has been specially adapted. The twinamic 6-speed dual clutch transmission is configured for sporty performance with up to 40 percent faster response time and shorter legged ratios than in the normal 66kW model. The Brabus transmission even comes with a race start function which automatically sets the optimal rpm and clutch slip for maximum acceleration from rest. Furthermore, the Brabus sport exhaust system has been optimized in terms of back-pressure.

Exterior
Several changes have been made to the exterior to distinguish the Brabus models from their more civilized siblings. The sporty top models stand out visually through a matte grey rear diffuser insert with chrome-look tailpipe trims and a nice set of Monoblock IX light-alloy wheels. The smart ForTwo comes with Yokohama sports tyres of size 185/50 R 16 H (front) and 205/40 R 17 H (rear). The smart ForFour is shod with 185/45 R 17 H (front) and 205/40 R 17 H (rear). On the inside you get reminded you’re driving in the top model Smart by Brabus logos on the poke, handbrake, rev counter and floor mats.

smart BRABUS Press Test Drive 2016

All smart BRABUS models come standard with a lockable glove compartment, the Cool & Audio package and the proximity warning function. The smart BRABUS ForTwo coupé and ForFour also sport an optional panoramic roof.

If costumers opt for the Smart Brabus Xclusive line they are assured of even greater sporty elegance. The special features of the Xclusive program includes Brabus sport seats with upholstery in perforated nappa leather/black leather with specific grey topstitching. Further features are a Brabus instrument panel, a Brabus dashboard instrument with cockpit clock and rev counter and Brabus floor mats.

Driving experience
After arriving at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf we get handed the key to one of the Brabus ForTwo Cabrio’s available that day. The first thing we notice when having a look at the car are the big sporty rims and the rear diffuser with two good looking tailpipes which tells us we’re dealing with a Smart Brabus and not the standard model. With the weather being in our favor we lower the top and set off to the Aldenhoven test track just outside Düsseldorf where we will be doing some dynamic test drives later that day.

The 40-minute drive to the test track includes city traffic, autobahn and rural roads that gives us the chance to see what the Smart Brabus is all about. After entering our destination in the navigation system, which by the way is very responsive and easy to use, we set off. In city traffic the car is remarkably quiet and despite Brabus making the suspension 20% firmer the car feels really comfortable. For the sake of fuel efficiency, the car comes with a start/stop function. These systems aren’t our favorite but luckily the function can easily be switched off with a button left from the steering wheel. Upon leaving the city we switch the drive mode to sport and see what the car has to offer on the autobahn. Stepping firmly on the gas you get accompanied by a nice turbo sound and the car smoothly accelerates you to the desired speed. A Smart ForTwo isn’t a car to drive at its maximum speed all the time, but the car can easily do a 130km/h without getting uncomfortable.

The last part of the journey leads us to some twisty rural roads where we can really test the car. The sports-tuned Direct-Steer system gives a good feedback and due to the sportier configuration of the twinamic transmission throttle response is very direct, also when shifting manually using the fixed paddles behind the steering wheel. The Smart Brabus is not the fastest, but being such a small car makes it really enjoyable to drive on these twisty roads.

Of course we have to test the Race Start function as well. The function is very easy to use. Firmly step on the brake and floor the accelerator at the same time. The car automatically sets the optimal rpm and clutch slip for maximum acceleration from rest. Release the brake and you’re off. Even though the car does 0-100 km/h in 9,5 seconds it definitely feels quicker.

After a quick bite at the Aldenhoven test track we’re ready to go on track. Smart set up two different courses for us. The first one is a parkour to test the cars mobility with a forward and backwards slalom followed by parallel parking between hay bales. The short turning circle of only 6.95 meters comes in handy in this challenge and with use of the rear-camera anyone should be able to park the Smart in even the smallest parking spots.

smart BRABUS fortwo cabrio; Exterieur: caribbean blue  Xclusive

The next challenge is to drive 4 laps on a special built track and try to get 2 similar laps. Smart set up a small track including chicanes and long corners to test the full potential of the car. The sport suspension and specially adapted ESP make it possible to accelerate through corners without breaking out and really gives us the feeling of driving in a GO-kart. We now see why Smart Brabus calls their latest creation the Pocket Rocket. Completely forgetting about the challenge of driving two similar laps we have loads of fun and before we know it the challenge is coming to an end and with that our time at the test track.

A one-hour drive back to Düsseldorf brings an end to all the fun and it is time to hand in the keys and head back home.

Conclusion
The Smart Brabus ForTwo Convertible is a very complete compact cruiser which is perfect as a small city cruiser, but also fun to drive on more challenging roads. The modifications by Brabus give it a sportier look and makes it not only fun to drive, but also fun to look at. Prices start from €22,970 for the Smart Brabus ForTwo Cabriolet and €25,970 for the Brabus ForTwo Cabriolet Xclusive model makes it around €7k more expensive compared to the entry level Smart ForTwo Cabriolet.

smart BRABUS Press Test Drive 2016

The extra money does buy you a more powerful, better sounding and in our eyes better looking car which can be customized fully to your own taste thanks to the Brabus tailor-made program. With the Brabus models arriving at the dealerships in Europe this month we hope to see many of them in the big cities around Europe.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
7.5
Handling
8.0
Design
8.5
Interior
8.0
Comfort
8.0
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