2009 Brabus Smart Fortwo cabriolet
2009 Brabus Smart Fortwo cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2009 Brabus smart fortwo cabriolet

Toronto, Ontario – How can something so cute have me so conflicted?

Spock, in his Vulcan wisdom, would surely declare the 2009 Smart Fortwo as completely illogical. Why? Designed for congested European inner- cities, it’s a fish out of water here; it requires Premium gasoline; its halting five-speed sequential transmission seriously tries the patience of even the most saintly. Mother Theresa would put her fist through the fabric top in no time. Its 70-hp 999-cc naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine is pretty gutless yet fails to return the claimed 5.4 L/100 km combined (I saw 6.3). And it rides like a rickshaw.

Tell Spock this Brabus Smart Cabriolet nudges 30 grand with taxes and freight and he might even laugh – which would be a first for a Vulcan.

2009 Brabus Smart Fortwo cabriolet
2009 Brabus Smart Fortwo cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

And yet, seeing this cheery silver micro-car all squat and butchy on its Brabus alloys brought a smile to my face every morning. All I wanted to do was hop in, roll back that big soft-top and putter around town, happily doing a bobble-head doll impersonation as the tranny worked its devilish trickery.

How can that be?

Well, that’s the magic of the Smart, I guess. Like a puppy, it’s cute, lovable and infuriating. Contributing to my renewed affliction…er, affection this time ‘round was the Brabus package (available in both coupe and cabrio) that adds an extra hit of style, greatly improved handling and $3,650 to the bottom line. You can get a Brabus Smart in any colour you like as long as it’s black or silver.

Brabus is a German tuning firm best known for imbuing Mercedes products with obscene amounts of power. In this case, the Smart’s rear-mounted drivetrain is untouched, but Brabus has massaged the suspension bits, lowered the ride height by 10 mm and added some stylish “Monoblock VII” alloys – 15s in the front and 17s out back. Wide 215/35R17 tires fill the rear haunches, and sporty side skirts and revised front and rear facias add some flair. A Brabus tuned exhaust gives this puppy some snarl.

2009 Brabus Smart Fortwo cabriolet
2009 Brabus Smart Fortwo cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

Up until now, you could never put “Smart” and “handling” in the same sentence without including such descriptives as “extreme understeer” or “yikes”. This Brabus Fortwo is actually fun to toss into the corners – there’s even a hint of oversteer to be found. The steering has surprising heft for a car this tiny. Electronic safety nets include ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, and electronic stability control with hill start assist.

Without having a regular smart to compare it to, I can’t say if the ride is any worse in the Brabus. That said, you sure know where the bumps are.

The betrothed and I took it to a yoga class, and after bucking over the first road blemish, she involuntarily blurted “Oh gawd!”, then launched into a flurry of, er, smarting vitriol that surely knocked her down a few rungs on the karmic ladder.

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