Smart Roadster (2003 - 2007)
This was one of our absolute favourites when it was launched. To drive, it feels like a baby Porsche Boxster, but with the agility to nip into tiny spaces that even city cars can struggle to match. The Smart Roadster really only had two problems: the dreadful Smart gearbox and the fact it did not stay in production very long. The semi-automatic gearbox came from the standard Smart Fortwo and has no redeeming features: it is slow and jerky and you just have to drive around its faults.
Smart insisted that no other gearbox could possibly have fitted in the car - but we suspect what they meant was that it would have been too much trouble to have developed a manual gearbox for the Roadster, especially as Fortwo owners would then have demanded the same treatment.
Its short production run was a result of Smart's retrenchment, dropping all models except the core Fortwo. The hopelessly expensive and pretentious Forfour was no loss, but the Roadster was mourned - so much so that a British entrepreneur tried to buy the tooling of the Roadster to put it into production as a modern MG Midget/Triumph Spitfire. Alas, the plan came to nothing.
Go for: 80bhp or 100bhp Brabus
Don't go for: left hand drive examples, early 60bhp base model, anything without a service history - these are complex little cars.