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Smart Roadster Trends

If the CLS is the neurotic Euro supermodel, constantly on the fuss, the Smart Roadster is a five-foot nothing Westie chick with a PhD in computational mathematics; the shorter, dumpier, funnier and ultimately better-as-a-life-partner sister. She performs with a jolly exuberance missing in her I'm-too-good-for-the-likes-of-you sibling. She'll rejig your C++ compiler and fart back at you.

I love this car. It is the best I have ever driven. I read its manual from cover to cover.

Smart is a Mercedes offshoot and, like its sibling, it doesn't make for anonymous rides. Westie kids know their wheels, so when I took the (admittedly, bright yellow) groover past throngs of Blockhouse Bay Intermediate and Green Bay High students heading home, they stopped, pointed and waved and gave those weird shadow-puppet hand signals that recognise you as a member of the same LA street gang that they belong to.

For your $37K, you get a new two-seat 700cc turbo sports car that you can just about lift by yourself. It accelerates like a rat up a drainpipe and corners like a go-kart through glue. And seeing as you sit about half a micron above the tarmac, 60kph feels like 600. The power to weight ratio is a very sweet 9.6kg per bhp. The fun per dollar is about a million to one. It has the traction control and the airbag, it will take its top off it you want, it will go manual or auto on demand and there is no sign of pesky things like presafe. On the flipside, you'll need advanced Pilates to get out of it, the stock radio is rubbish and the gear change can be jerky, but you'll feel like a fighter pilot at least twice a day. These cars come in an exceptional shade of black and they look as though they cost 10 times as much as they do. This is what cars are really about. True love. Without exception, everyone on Earth should buy this car.

Source: Alistair Bone,Trends column, New Zealand Listener