I've just spent the morning in Shoreditch, getting a first look of the newest Smart/Brabus electric car concept. Now, I'm no petrol-head (which I guess is just as well, given that the Brabus runs on li-ion batteries), but this was a neat little motor.
Smart cars are always a bit Marmite – you either love them or hate them, but the new Brabus has had an injection of singular style touches that will divide camps even more distinctly. There's the pastel-green colourway for one. And the slightly Tellytubby feel of the interior, albeit a brushed aluminium and leather version.
But here's the bit that every gadget fancier's got to love – there's an engine noise emulator. When you're gliding around in a soundless electric car, the experience can be a little disconcerting and, frankly, not so much fun when you hit the throttle.
But the Brabus techs have wired it up with a choice of two engine noises, one mighty roar and a rather otherworldy space sound. The idea was first showcased on the Tesla, and it's one that Smart Electric Car Product Manager Pitt Moos is keen to develop: "I'd love to see this extended to a full range of sound selections, much like you'd choose a ringtone for your mobile phone".
Suddenly, the possibilities are endless – can you imagine roads filled with fuel-free motors, making Tie Fighter swooshes, V8 roars, horse whinnies... ?
Pitt's personal choice? "I'd have a message that said 'Excuse me please' in heavy traffic, to be polite." Frankly, I think mine woud feature some slightly more colourful language for the streets of London...