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Smart City Coupe engines, drive and performance

2000 - 2004 (change model)
Performance rating: 3 out of 53.0

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The engine line-up is slightly confusing with six variations of two basic turbocharged three-cylinder engines: a 599cc and 698cc. All cars originally had the 599cc unit with 45 or 54 bhp (uprated to 61 bhp in 2001). The 45bhp version is painfully slow and only suitable for town driving; 54 bhp is better, but only the 61 bhp unit has enough push for the motorway.

The 698cc engine arrived in 2003 with 50, 61 or – in Brabus tune – 74 bhp. All are far nippier and capable of short motorway trips.

Simple and enjoyable to drive with light, accurate steering and good brakes, which is ideal for town driving. Short wheelbase and almost square stance means it drives like nothing else on the road The ride is good on most surfaces, but changes of road surface and potholes cause a lot of pitching and bouncing and there’s lots of bodyroll into corners.

All cars have a fully or semi-automatic gearbox; these were jerky, with slow changes on early models, but much improved on revised cars from 2002. Light steering and a tight lock prove that the City Coupe is in its element in the town. Even basic models get traction and stability controls, a semi-auto gearbox and ABS brakes.