Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pathological hate test drives the tiny Smart Fortwo

Smart fortwo (Baureihe 453).jpg
The Smart Fortwo, the cheapest rear-wheel-drive coupe you can buy.

The sole engine choice in the Smart Fortwo is a turbocharged three-cylinder engine pumping out 89hp. It doesn't sound like much but you have to remember the Fortwo isn't a large car to begin with, and well this is just enough. The previous 1-liter three-cylinder only had 70hp and was a non-turbo, and that engine felt weak on faster paced roads, and with the sequential gearbox it didn't really help make things any better. Luckily for us, this generation comes with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic. We haven't had the chance to test the manual gearbox but we did have the auto gearbox which we found it to be light years better than the old automated manual. It still isn't as great as it should be but it does the intended job well. Back to the engine, it does come with a turbo which does give you decent torque at low revs but it's a bit of an odd ball here. It has turbo lag at low revs and it does hesitate off the line.

The benefits of having the engine at the rear is that the turning circle is one of the tightest we've seen on any production car. The only other vehicle that can match the Fortwo is the Renault Twingo that's sold in Europe. It's quite easy to drive the Fortwo around town, in fact you'll enjoy zipping it around thanks to the dinky dimensions. It's slightly bigger than the outgoing version which helps make the ride comfort more real car-like. The previous Fortwo ride was way too firm and the one before that felt like it had a suspension composed of a pogo stick. When you take the Fortwo outside of city limits, it doesn't feel as composed due to the short wheelbase. It does feel composed at relaxed speeds but the seats are so comfy that you'll forget that you drove a long distance.

The interior is designed for just two people and well, the accommodations for those two people aren't bad at all. You'll find that both head room and legroom are in the bucket loads. The infotainment system isn't the best in the world, but it is easy to navigate through once you've gotten used to the interface and the menus. We do love the Euro-chic design that the Fortwo has this time around, the previous versions were more on the style rather than functionality side. But the materials used were decent quality, which we can't diss this version with either.

There are four trims to choose from. Standard Pure is the entry-level trim and is the cheapest. You do get bluetooth connectivity, power windows and door locks as well as air-con. You'll have to pay extra for alloy wheels or step up to the Pure trim which adds powered and heated mirrors, height adjustable seat  and retractable cargo cover. Passion trim gets fog lights, leather seats, panoramic sunroof, rain sensing wipers with auto headlights. Top of the range Prime adds premium sound system, paddle shifters, sports suspension and chrome exhaust tip.

The Fortwo is one of those vehicles that is perfect if you live in a congested urban area and street parking is a premium. You'll love the scratch and dent resistant body panels and also the dinky dimensions makes parking and squeezing around the city a breeze. Outside the city the Fortwo can hold its own but it feels more of a chore to drive than many of it's larger more comfortable rivals.

Likes: Euro-chic styling inside out. Improved engine and transmission as well as ride comfort. Decent space for two (no pun intended).

Dislikes: Gas mileage isn't anything to brag about. Some of the quirky charm we loved about the previous generation is gone.

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