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Smart 450 - City/ForTwo

The original, classic Smart car. Released in continental Europe in 1998 and eventually released in the UK officially in 2000 with RHD models coming in 2001, the car measured at a dinky 2.5m long! This Smart can fit into the smallest of gaps and parking is a breeze while the boot can fit a lot more than you might think.



A Smart City-Coupe with "Almond" headlamps


A Smart ForTwo with "Peanut" headlamps
This is known originally as the City-Coupe and City-Cabriolet. In 2004, to align with the model range, this was renamed to be the ForTwo.

  1. Engines
  2. Transmission
  3. Trim levels
    1. Crossblade
    2. Fake "Brabus" models
  4. Typical issues
    1. Exterior
    2. Interior
    3. Engine/Suspension
  5. VIN number patterns

Engines

The 450 was powered by a 599cc 3 cylinder engine that was turbocharged when released in 1998, developing anywhere between 44 to 61bhp, depending on the trim level of the car. At around the year 2000, the 799cc 3 cylinder cdi engine was launched as well which was also turbocharged. In 2003/4, the 599cc engine was replaced with a 698cc 3 cylinder engine which developed either 50 or 61bhp, again depending on the trim level of the car.

Transmission



A Smart ForTwo Cabriolet
All of the 450 series were equipped with a 6 speed semi-automatic transmission. All could change gear by pushing the lever up to change up into the next gear and pull down to change down. Some models came equipped with a fully automatic option by pressing a button on the side of the gear lever. It was also possible to have paddle shifters (attached to the steering wheel) on the car as well.

Trim levels

The basic trim levels available were Pure, Pulse and Passion however Smart did a whole host of special editions with the 450.

Name Badge Year(s)
Brabus 1999 - 2007
Edition Red 2005
Grandstyle 2005 - 2006(?)
Limited/1 1998
Nightrun 2005
Passion 1998 - 2007
Pulse 1998 - 2007
Pure 1998 - 2007
Truestyle 2005 - 2006(?)

Crossblade



A Smart Crossblade
The Smart Crossblade, released in 2002, is a limited run of the 450 which has no conventional doors, no roof or windscreen. The engine was a 599cc engine tuned to give 74bhp.

Fake "Brabus" models

From time to time, unscrupulous people may try to pass off a non Brabus 450 as a Brabus. They could claim it has Brabus styling or equipment but that doesn't make it a Brabus. The quickest way to identify if a car really is a Brabus is to use the VIN number. Apart from very early models of the 450 (whose VIN patterns start with either TCC or MC01), they should start "WME450xxx", it is the last of the numbers in the prefix that identify the trim level.

Typical issues

If you are going to own the classic Smart, then this model has some particulars you do need to know about.

Exterior

  • The door handles are known to go stiff. Lubricate with grease if this is the case.
  • It was rare for the 450 to have power steering, so more often than not, it doesn't have it. This shouldn't be an issue as their is little weight over the front.
  • The headlamps design changed in 2002 (between the mk5 and mk6) from the "Almond" headlamps to the "Peanut" style. Peanut front panels are a little easier to get as the Cabriolet featured this style (although Cabriolet panels have their own styling that the Coupe panels do not have) so if you get an Almond style, be aware of this.
  • Check seals around the door, boot and windscreen for leaks. Traditionally, the rear quarter windows and the windscreen sealant are weak spots.
  • If your car has Monoblock alloys, they have been known to buckle easier than the standard wheels due to the higher amount of aluminium within the alloy. They also corrode really easily - the reason for this is here
  • Steering racks have been known to seize up so check both joints for any stiffness.

Interior

  • Before the 51/02 registration, Smarts in the UK were always LHD (unless converted). All 450 CDIs in the UK are LHD, regardless of age.
  • The window reluctors can break, causing the window to overrun the top of the door. This may also have a bending effect on the door hinge.

Engine/Suspension

  • More often than not, the engine in the 450 (except the CDi and the 2003-2007 Brabus variants) appears to need a rebuild from around 65,000 miles upwards (although this is not a given, some blow well before 65,000, others seem to be able to run without needing one at all). This can cost between £800 to £1200 and can be the deciding factor in owning one. If your car starts drinking oil, this is a tell-tale sign. If you plan to sell your Smart, please show the receipt that the engine has been rebuilt. Similarly, if you plan to buy a 450, please get proof of a rebuild.
  • Suspension coils on the front are prone to snapping.
  • Turbo manifolds are prone to cracking due to stress (again, the CDi doesn't appear to be prone to this).
  • The clutch actuator can prematurely fail. Make sure it changes gear smoothly.
  • Not all petrol 450's are in the £30 p/a vehicle excise tax bracket. Models featuring softtouch between a Y reg and 2002 appear to sit in the £110 bracket.

VIN number patterns

VIN Number prefix Model
450300, 450330, 450332 City-Coupe
450301 Smart & Pure CDI
450302 Smart & Pulse CDI
450303 Smart & Passion CDI
450306 Smart & Business Pure CDI
450314 Smart-Brabus Coupe
450331 Smart & Pure
450333, 450335 Smart City-Coupe Brabus
450336, 450346 Smart & Business Pure
450341, 450342, 450352, 450353 Smart & Pulse
450343 Smart & Passion
450347 Smart & Pure K (Japan only)
450399 Smart Glider
450400, 450432 Smart Cabrio
450401 Smart Cabrio & Pure CDI
450402 Smart Cabrio & Pulse CDI
450403 Smart Cabrio & Passion CDI
450414 Smart-Brabus Cabrio
450418 Smart Crossblade
450433 Smart Cabrio Brabus
450441 Smart Cabrio & Pure
450442, 450452 Smart Cabrio & Pulse
450443 Smart Cabrio & Passion