The Smart Fortwo has been sold in Europe for many years and has finally graced our roads here in the U.S. It's not the largest of cars and it certainly does turn heads no matter where it goes. The Smart Fortwo is here to show that small cars are just as cool as larger vehicles. But is the Smart Invasion all just a hype?
Performance: There's only one engine available, its a 1-liter three-cylinder with 70hp. It's not the most refined engine, and isn't the most powerful. Performance is only so-so, but then you'll be missing the point. This car is aimed more towards urban use not highway driving. The Fortwo makes the most of its engine output, but a more powerful engine option would be desired.
Ride & Handling: The Fortwo has an overly firm ride. Things get even worse when you hit a bump. The suspension does very little to soak anything up, giving the passengers an unforgiving ride. Handling isn't good either for such a small car. The front wheels lose grip very quickly.
Refinement: The three-cylinder engine emits a distinct thrum whenever you touch the accelerator. The sound is far from unpleasant, but can make long highway journeys. The semi-automatic gearbox is the biggest let down. Shifting between gears is jerky and slow to respond, unless you ease your foot off the accelerator between shifts.
Behind the wheel: The interior is very well laid out. All the controls and dials are within easy reach of the driver seat. There are plenty of user-friendly buttons and dials. However, the driving position isn't for everyone because there's no seat height adjustment. The steering wheel is fixed, making the driving position awkward for some drivers.
Space & Practicality: Wide opening doors means getting in and out of the Fortwo is a breeze. There's plenty of room for two passengers, but cargo space is limited. The boot isn't massive, but there's plenty of room for a few bags. You'll have to fold down the passenger seat to squeeze anything more. The cabriolet roof retracts at the touch of a button. But you'll have to remove the roof bars for a full cabriolet experience.
Equipment: The Fortwo comes with a very large safety kit. The cabriolet adds power windows, ESP, and traction control to help keep the Fortwo stable under mixed driving. The Rev gauge and clock are a nice addition but cost extra. Optional leather seats and automatic headlights are reasonably priced and worth considering.
Buying & owning: The Fortwo fuel economy isn't all that impressive. There are rivals that are bigger and offer more in everything the Fortwo falls short in. Since the Fortwo requires premium fuel, your fuel bill may be higher than you'd desire. Resale value should be a worry, as Smart doesn't have much of a image in the U.S.
Quality & Reliability: Smart is built by Mercedes Benz. Most materials used are designed to last long wear and tear. However, the gearbox may cause some problems. Most owners have complained frequent gearbox faults in the JD Power Survey.
Safety & Security: The Fortwo has the most elaborate safety kit. Many features you'd have to pay extra for, or not even ask for are standard. An engine immobilizer means thieves won't be able to drive away with your Fortwo. However, Mercedes rejects deadlocks on safety grounds.
Likes: Small size means its easy to park, stylish inside out, cheapest cabriolet in the U.S.
Dislikes: Touchy brakes, jerky transmission, handling is sloppy, and the engine requires premium fuel.
The Fortwo doesn't have many strong points. The brakes are touchy, the transmission is jerky, and there's the engine that requires premium fuel. Even though there are rivals that are bigger, roomier and offer better fuel economy. The Fortwo has a charm that no other city car offers. It's stylish, easy to park and makes the most sense in tight urban areas. If your trip doesn't evolve highway driving, and want a car that stands out everywhere you go. The Smart Fortwo is the perfect car for you.