2016 Smart Fortwo Brabus xclusive cabrio review

What is it?

If you look at the ingredients on paper, the Smart Fortwo Brabus cabrio can be made to sound quite tempting. After all, it’s a rear-engined, rear-wheel drive two-seater that’s available for less than £20,000. According to Smart, it’s ‘the urban sports car’.
It may have just 898 cubic centimetres to push it along, but power has been increased to a fairly healthy 108bhp. With a kerb weight of just 1040kg, that’s enough to give it a 0-62mph time of 9.5sec, although an electronic limiter calls time at 102mph.
To help cope with the additional 20bhp you get over a non-Brabus Fortwo, there’s sports suspension and steering, retuned electronic stability control (ESP), plus bigger wheels with wider tyres. As for gearbox, there’s no manual option, just a dual-clutch automatic.
Of course, there’s also some added visual clout so people know how much money you’ve spent. This includes those larger rims, twin exhaust pipes, sportier front and rear bumpers and, of course, Brabus badging.

What's it like?

If you’re expecting the boffins from Bottrop to have transformed the way the Fortwo goes, then you probably don’t have a very good grasp of the laws of physics. No matter how you tune something so short, tall and wide, a sports car it will not be.
Yes, the Brabus feels more planted than its cooking relatives, and it can be hustled round corners faster than most other road users would expect. Even so, you won’t be exploiting the car’s rearward weight bias and rear wheel drive. The ESP may have been recalibrated, but it still kicks in early and sometimes abruptly.
That said, its quick, if inert, steering and large amount of lock mean it’s great for darting around town and has a ridiculously tight turning circle. The Fortwo Brabus feels nervous at speed, however, with even small steering inputs having a big impact on the car’s trajectory; it’s also easily upset by bumps.