Review: Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014)
Roomier than previous version with better seats. More comfortable drive. Cheap to run.
Lacklustre cornering. Limited appeal beyond town use. No use if you need more than two seats.
Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014): At A Glance
It seems like only a few years ago, but the first Smart City Coupes actually hit the streets in 1998 and since then no less than 770,000 have been sold worldwide.
Smart's expansion plans have failed. Both the Nedcar-built and Mitsubishi Colt based ForFour and the Roadster Coupe have been shelved because they could not generate enough profit. Yet the original concept has continued to sell, especially to city dwellers in Rome, Paris, London, Berlin and Madrid. So now it's time for a new one.
As usual, cars grow, and the new Smart ForTwo is 195mm longer with a 55mm longer wheelbase and 31mm wider track. That gives better crash protection front and back (good enough to sell in the USA) and frees up more room inside for passengers and luggage. You can now get 220 litres behind the seats, or 340 litres stuffed to the roof. It feels very spacious inside for such a small car. But, despite an 8.75 metre turning circle, at 1,867mm it's now too long to park at right angles to a kerb.
What does a Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014) cost?
Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 150–340 litres
Good points include a decent amount of cabin room for two, and although the boot looks tiny, it's deeper than you'd imagine, and the front passenger seat can be folded flat to increase stowage space.
The seats are excellent though, with plenty of thigh support, so you could drive all day with minimum discomfort if you had to.
Child seats that fit a Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014) like to drive?
Petrol engines are Mitsubishi-derived 999cc three-cylinder chain cammers with outputs of 61 or 71bhp, or an 84bhp turbo. The UK won't be getting the 45bhp 799cc diesel because it would not sell in sufficient numbers. Transmission is now a 5-speed rather than 6-speed automated manual with manual sequential change or a button to leave the electronics to do it for you. Power steering is optional. LHD dealer demonstrators arrive at Smart's 45 UK dealers in June, and RHD customer cars from September. Prices will start at around £6,840. Removable Garmin satnav will be optional at about £300 and will sit in a dashtop shoe with voice instructions via the car's radio speakers.
I drove two ForTwos at the launch in Madrid. First, an 84bhp turbo with non-assisted steering on a motorway and country route out to Chinchon and back. Then, next day, a 71bhp model with power steering in Madrid traffic.
On the motorway the turbo worked hard on ascents but would reach an indicated 155kmh (probably a true 145kmh) at which point it simply stopped accelerating. So with Spain's new speeding fine regime, on motorways at least, drivers won't suffer more than a €100 fine with no points on their licences. (You get points and bigger fines for anything over 152kmh and Porsche owners take note that over 219kmh earns you six points plus a €520 fine.)
The gearchange is a vast improvement on the old car, but still a bit slow on the upchange when cracking on unless you lift to help it. With the slightly longer wheelbase, ride is less choppy and handling and roadholding more secure, though still ultimately limited by the combination of short wheelbase and tall cabin. You can't get any real pleasure out of lining it up through a series of bends. Unlike the old Roadser Coupe it's still no sportscar.
However, the most sensible test came the next day, driving in Madrid city traffic with the help of a charming Madridlena guide. For this I'd picked a 71bhp coupe with power steering and it proved ideal for the task.
The engine is both gentler and sweeter, giving perfectly adequate acceleration for city use and, though steering ‘feel' was sometimes a bit odd, both the car and I, and my guide, were very happy. The deliberately tricky route sometimes meant crossing lanes of traffic and, possibly because of the Smart's modest size or sheer cuteness, other drivers seemed happy to let it in. Narrow side streets were a doddle. Reverse parking showed up a blind rear three-quarters due to the integrated head restraints, but once a driver got used to the car's length he or she could easily do it with mirrors.
In 2009 it's proposed that the London Congestion Charge for cars churning out more than 224g/km CO2 it will rise to £25, for cars emitting 121 to 224k/km it will stay at £8 a day, but drivers of anything exhaling 120g/km or less will get off with paying nothing.
A couple of dozen cars already qualify, and the forthcoming new MINI Cooper diesel also will. But if Smart and GoingGreen could somehow persuade Ken Livingstone to allocate Smart and G-Wiz sized reduced-price street parking spaces as well, then Smarts will make even more sense as city cars than they do already.
UPDATE: SMART FORTWO DIESEL
It's a sign of the times that that Smart has launched an ultra-low emission, diesel version of its second-generation Fourtwo city car in Britain.
Previously, it thought no one would buy it here. A mix of economic pressures and environmental concerns led to a change of mind, and the car arrived in the summer of 2009, with claims that it was the cleanest off-the-shelf mass-market car available.
Powered by a 799cc, three-cylinder common rail turbo-diesel mated to a five-speed transmission, the car produces 88g/km of CO2, and is theoretically capable of almost 85mpg.
The diminutive, light, two-seat Smart is an ideal platform for this sort of thing, but the diesel motor's 45bhp power output isn't going to make it a hotrod. Smart claims a top speed of around 85mph, and a 0-62 of almost 20 seconds.
These are figures that don't look great on paper, but in reality, the car feels perfectly sprightly, and is a surprisingly relaxed motorway cruiser, since 3,000rpm equates to around 75mph. It is susceptible to motorway cross winds, and sometimes passing trucks will cause it to jink slightly, but given that the car has a very short wheelbase and is over five foot tall, this is hardly a surprise.
Take a passenger and you'll notice it working a bit harder, ditto using the air conditioning, and the car Smart need to be rowed along with the gears to keep up with everything else, in a way that is unlikely to help it hit that claimed 85mpg, but normal driving it should comfortably yield 60-plus mpg, and it's actually exempt from road tax.
Stand outside and the car sounds like a big ride-on motor mower, but inside its smooth enough, and if not especially quiet, its deep engine not is far from unpleasant, and at cruising speeds it's pretty unobtrusive.
This Smart has stuck with the model's rather flaccid, five-speed, self-shifting transmission with a neat manual override that allows gears to be changed by rowing the selector forwards or back. Get it to shift ratios automatically and it still feels as if someone's dabbing the brakes between changes, as these are often accompanied by a slight pitching lurch. The system has improved over time, but still lets the car down. Swift engagement of first and reverse during tight parking manoeuvres can stress it out too. In reverse, this sometimes results in no drive at all, a lot of revving, and the car free-wheeling alarmingly. It's fitted with a hill hold device, but our example's had a mind of its own, and on one occasion the car nearly rolled into a hedge.
This is a great pity, because the Fourtwo's compactness and tight turning circle allow it to squeeze into tiny gaps denied other cars.
Changing gears yourself improves things smoothness-wise. Lifting off the accelerator as each gear is selected seemed to get the best out of this flawed system. The steering is completely accurate, if lifeless, and on dry, undulating roads the car stuck to its line and displayed levels of grip that would surprise anybody who hasn't driven one before.
Sometimes you're aware that its motive power is located about six inches behind your kidneys. There's a sense the car being pushed into corners, and I suspect that total stupidity on wet or icy surfaces could result in it going backwards, but sportscar dynamics are not what this thing is about. Given the car's upright stance and short wheelbase, its jiggly ride is hardly a surprise, but it's rarely actively uncomfortable.
|0.8 cdi||86 mpg||16.8 s||86–87 g/km|
|1.0 102||54 mpg||8.9 s||119 g/km|
|1.0 45||83 mpg||19.8 s||88 g/km|
|1.0 50||60 mpg||18.3 s||113 g/km|
|1.0 61||58–60 mpg||15.5 s||113–118 g/km|
|1.0 71||64–66 mpg||13.3–13.7 s||98–105 g/km|
|1.0 84||58 mpg||10.7 s||115 g/km|
|1.0 98||52 mpg||9.9 s||124 g/km|
|1.0 micro hybrid drive 61||66 mpg||16.7 s||103 g/km|
|1.0 micro hybrid drive 71||64–66 mpg||13.3–13.7 s||98–103 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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Smart Fortwo brake pipe corrosion
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