While it can’t claim the title of world’s smallest car, a Smart car is definitely tiny. However, while it can make a good daily driver, it’s usually not thought of as a performance car. But as Abarth showed with the Fiat 500, and several tuners have demonstrated with classic Mini Coopers, small cars can make for fun speed demons. And, as German tuner Brabus demonstrates with the Smart Ultimate E Facelift, so can small electric cars.
Past Brabus Smart cars
Brabus’ name is usually attached to high-powered Mercedes-Benz models. But since Mercedes technically owns Smart, tuning one of the tiny city cars isn’t too far from Brabus’ wheelhouse.
The Brabus-Smart collaboration started in 2003, Automobile explains. At the time, the Smart Roadster was powered by an 80-hp 698cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine mounted in the rear. The Brabus version, though, has a 1.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 168 hp and 162 lb-ft. In the 1852-lb convertible, that’s good for a 0-60 time under 6 seconds.
Although the Brabus-tuned Smart Roadster didn’t make it to the US, the Smart Fortwo models did. Unfortunately, the US-spec 2009 Brabus Fortwo models didn’t get the extra power the Euro-spec ones did, Car and Driver did. But they do have a sportier exhaust, sharper suspension, a lower ride height, and a re-tuned transmission, Road & Track reports. The Brabus Smart Fortwos also have heated leather seats, aluminum pedals, and power steering.
The Brabus treatment continued with the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet, Car and Driver reports. It has sportier suspension, a stiffer anti-roll bar, as well as recalibrated steering and stability control. Unfortunately, like the earlier models, the US version had the same 80-hp 0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder as the base trims.
Or rather, most of them did, Autotrader reports. The Lane Motor Museum has a US-legal Brabus Smart Fortwo Cabriolet with the Euro-spec 109-hp engine. It’s also the only one in the world with a manual transmission, rather than the 6-speed dual-clutch.
After that came the Brabus Smart Ultimate 125, The Drive reports. The tuner upgraded the turbocharged engine’s intercooler, intake, and ECU to boost it to 125 hp, Jalopnik reports. Along with that, the city car got a Brabus body kit, leather interior, and active performance exhaust.
The Brabus Smart Ultimate E Facelift is a boosted EQ Fortwo
The conventional Smart EQ Fortwo Cabriolet has a mid-mounted 80-hp electric motor, Car and Driver reports. The Brabus Ultimate E, though, bumps that up to 92 hp, Autoblog reports, knocking a full second off the 0-60 time. It also makes 15 more lb-ft, for a total of 133 lb-ft. The tuned Smart EQ Fortwo’s range isn’t affected, though; Brabus claims it can do 78 miles on a charge.
That’s likely because the Brabus version has multiple driving modes, The Drive reports, including a regenerative-braking-heavy Eco Mode. The other modifications include a new front bumper, a body kit, retuned suspension, larger wheels, and performance tires. And inside, the Brabus Smart Ultimate E Facelift has leather upholstery with red stitching, as well as illuminated door sills.
Getting one of your own
Unfortunately, with Smart exiting the US market entirely, the Brabus Ultimate E Facelift isn’t available in the US. And neither are the ICE models the German tuner has worked on, such as the 4-door Forfour, Top Gear reports.
However, you can get a used Brabus Fortwo in the US. They’re usually available for less than $10k, Autotrader reports. Or, if you want to wait a few years, the V6-powered Brabus Roadster will be eligible for importation.
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