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Review: WorkshopPlus SmartBox

Carlton Boyce / 15 June 2016

Can you really throw away your jump leads? We put this portable jump starter to the test on a flat car battery.

The WorkshopPlus SmartBox is ridiculously small yet packs a 400A punch that is easily enough to start any car fitted with an engine under 3.5-litre
The WorkshopPlus SmartBox is ridiculously small yet packs a 400A punch that is easily enough to start any car fitted with an engine under 3.5-litre

Do you know what the number one cause of car breakdowns is? 

Yes, that’s right, it’s a flat battery; while modern cars are much more reliable than they used to be, the demands that are placed on the car’s electrical system are now so great that flattening your battery is still a very real possibility, no matter how many leaps and bounds are made in other areas of car engineering design.

Read our tips on what to do if you breakdown.

Of course, you could call your breakdown service to come out and rescue you, but even the best are likely to take half-an-hour or so to get there. You could carry a set of jump leads with you too, but then you’ve got to find someone willing to let you use their car to jump start yours.

Portable jump starter

Or you could pack a SmartBox portable jump starter in the glovebox. 

It is ridiculously small (just 13cm x 7cm x 2.3cm) yet packs a 400A punch that is easily enough to start any petrol or diesel car fitted with an engine under 3.5-litre, which is just about everything these days.

I’ll admit; I was sceptical. I simply didn’t believe that something so small could jump-start a car engine. 

I’ve been carrying a pair of hefty jump leads around in the boot for more years than I care to recall and had resigned myself to the fact that while they are heavy, dirty, and awkward to store there isn’t an alternative for someone like me who is addicted to old, unreliable cars.

I was wrong.

Seven things everyone should carry in their boot.

Putting the Smartbox to the test

My wife called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that the battery on our family Subaru was flat. It was raining. She was late collecting our younger son from school. She was stressed and frustrated. 

I hopped into that week’s press car and whizzed down to see her, SmartBox in hand.

The WorkshopPlus SmartBox eliminates the need to carry a pair of hefty jump leads around in your boot

It worked. It really was as simple as that. 

I clipped on the two colour-coded leads to the battery terminals, plugged them into the SmartBox, and started the car. Within a minute or so of my arrival she was on her way again. No need to manoeuvre my car next to hers, blocking the narrow road she was parked on. No dirty hands while I untangled the jump leads and connected them up.

10 laws motorists ignore or forget.

Impressive gadget at a good price

The SmartBox won’t overcharge your car’s battery and won’t cause problems if you accidentally connect it the wrong way round. 

It should also start a typical car 20 times before it needs to be recharged and when it does need charging you just plug it into the mains or your car’s cigarette lighter socket. 

When it’s full it sits in your glove box, waiting to save your bacon. 

It also comes in its own carry case with a selection of charging leads to keep your phone and tablet charged too. Oh, and it’s got a built-in LED torch with four modes: constant white light; slow flashing white light; strobe white light; and a blue and red warning strobe. 

The SmartBox is small, neat and cheap: £69.99 is only £20 more than I paid for the heavy duty jump leads that are now sitting forgotten in my garage. It’s the most impressive gadget I tested last year and comes highly recommended.

You can find out more at

For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.