Autocar and Autoblog seem to think the answer is yes, and I say that’s a good thing. Especially if the mid-engine, rear drive roadster graces our shores this time around. In case you’re not up on quirky European sports cars the size of go-karts, the Smart Roadster was a drop top (or removable roof) “sports car” version of the iconic Smart car. Like the Smart, it was underpowered (in non-Brabus tune, it featured a maximum rating of 81 horsepower) and over-priced (equivalent to the larger, better equipped Mazda Miata).
Like the Miata, the Smart Roadster’s forte was handling, not straight line speed. Brabus tuned versions made as much as 100 horsepower in street trim, which wasn’t bad considering the cars weight of under 2,000 pounds. Despite the car’s relative sales success, Smart lost money on the model and pulled the plug in 2006, after just four years of production.
Given Mercedes-Benz’s new partnership with Renault, the idea of a Smart Roadster may be back on the table once more. Smart would love a more comprehensive lineup, and re-introducing a semi-iconic sports car may go a long way towards reviving the brand. Renault has extensive experience in manufacturing low cost small cars, and could likely produce the roadster at a profit if the volumes were high enough. Could that include U.S. sales? Possibly, since Smart needs all the help they can get in the United States.
Personally, I say “build it”, but offer a manual gearbox and figure out a way to shoehorn in the 2.0 liter inline four used in the Renault Clio RS. A mid-engine, rear drive roadster that weighs around 2,000 pounds and puts out 194 horsepower could definitely find a home in my garage.