Review: Smart Fortwo Cabriolet (2016)
Great around town. Folding fabric roof can be operated at any speed. Easy to drive.
No rear seats. Expensive next to coupe. Limited boot access. Poor ride quality.
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Smart Fortwo Cabriolet (2016): At A Glance
- New prices start from £10,000
- Contract hire deals from £136.54 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 4–16
- On average it achieves 88% of the official MPG figure
With its cute styling, compact size and easy to drive nature, the Smart Fortwo Cabrio is great for nipping around town in the sun. However, its folding fabric roof does mean some compromises. The back window is prone to getting dirty quickly since it has no rear wiper and while the boot is the same size as in the hard-top, access is tighter in the Cabrio. Oh, and it's more expensive than the Fortwo coupe, too.
The roof can be retracted while on the move and set to any position – so it can be treated like a sunroof or taken all the way back. If you know it’s going to be nice and sunny with no chance of rain, you can go one step further and remove the bars from above both doors, storing them in a special pocket in the tailgate.
On the move the Fortwo Cabrio is extremely easy to drive, with very light controls and a tight turning circle. U-turns in busy streets, parallel parking and tight gaps in traffic are made almost effortless. Both the 71PS and 90PS engines are perky and responsive and they work well with either the manual transmission or the smooth dual-clutch auto, which is a great choice for stop start urban driving.
But the Fortwo Cabrio clatters over speed bumps and feels a bit wobbly and jittery on uneven tarmac. It’s loud on the motorway too – though it can hold its own when it comes to overtaking and keeping up with high-speed traffic. The problems don’t stop there – the Fortwo Cabrio costs a lot more than the hard-top version and is similar in price to the Fiat 500C, which is more practical.
That said, any Fortwo buyer knows the limitations before they buy and, while there may only be two seats, there is a surprising amount of space in the cabin. Tall drivers and passengers shouldn’t have much trouble with head or legroom and there is enough storage for the usual odds and ends, like coffee cups, smartphones, dash cameras and maps, to be stored neatly.
The lack of rear seats, a small boot and surprisingly high pricing mean the Cabrio will hold limited appeal for the average urban motorist. But many buyers will fall in love with the quirkiness of the Fortwo Cabrio, and will be willing to pay the extra for it. If that’s the case with you then you’re unlikely to be disappointed - it’s great in town, easy to drive and packed with character.
What does a Smart Fortwo Cabriolet (2016) cost?Get a finance quote with CarMoney
Smart Fortwo Cabriolet (2016): What's It Like Inside?
The folding fabric roof on the Smart Fortwo Cabrio retracts electronically at any speed. Fully retracted it bundles up above the load cover, plus the roof bars can be removed easily from above the doors and stowed in the boot. In this configuration it feels more truly ‘open’ than the Fiat 500C or DS 3 Cabrio.
On a Smart Fortwo coupe the tailgate glass opens as well as the tailgate itself, which makes access easy. Sadly the folding fabric roof means this isn’t possible in the Fortwo Cabrio, which makes access to the boot a little tighter, although it has exactly the same 260-litre capacity. It’s still fine for shopping trips or soft luggage, though.
Up front there is a surprising amount of space, with enough leg and headroom for tall occupants. Obviously the big caveat is the lack of any rear seats, but you wouldn’t be looking at a Smart Fortwo Cabrio review if you needed those. There’s plenty of seat adjustment so getting comfortable is straightforward.
Material quality is very sturdy and there are neat touches like a fabric-covered dashboard and cute slider controls for the temperature. The ball-like vents and pod-mounted rev counter are clever throwbacks to the original Smart, too – though they’re much better made in the new car.
All versions have Bluetooth connectivity, an aux-input and a USB socket, along with climate control and electric windows. Opting for a higher trim level brings largely cosmetic improvements, meaning useful extras like the touchscreen navigation unit are cost options across the whole range.
That said, we’d recommend keeping costs down and going for the affordable smartphone cradle. This allows drivers to plug their phones in to maintain charge and safely use their screen for functions like navigation, but without the expense of the integrated – and clunky – touchscreen nav.
Standard equipment (from December 2016)
Passion includes 15-inch alloy wheels, black interior fabric, automatic air conditioning, electric windows, colour multi-function instrument computer, USB connection, Bluetooth, Aux-in, cruise control, speed limiter and hill start assist.
Prime adds alternative alloy wheel design, alternative interior colours and heated seats.
Prime Sport adds 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome tailpipe, 10mm lower suspension, sports steering wheel and stainless steel pedals.
Brabus Sport 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels, Brabus exterior and interior details.
Child seats that fit a Smart Fortwo Cabriolet (2016)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 Cabriolet (2016) like to drive?
The Fortwo has an unusual rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout. This has the advantage of giving it an extremely tight turning circle. Paired with the Fortwo’s tiny size, it means getting in and out of tight gaps and small parking spaces is incredibly easy. U-turns are effortless too – a three-point turn is only necessary on very narrow roads.
Both the 71PS and 90PS petrol engines (there is no diesel) are perfectly at home around town and come with a slick five-speed manual transmission. If you make longer journeys regularly then the higher output engine is a better bet - it’s a little more responsive thanks to a turbocharger, so it's more effective when accelerating on a slip road or overtaking slower traffic.
Earlier Smart models were available with an automatic gearbox and it was laughably slow and jerky – but if you’re worried about the new model there’s no need. The current Smart is offered with a very smooth, slick dual clutch automatic as an option. It works very well, particularly for those frustrating urban stop and start jams.
Official fuel economy figures are more than 65mpg for both engine variants, regardless of whether they are linked to a manual or automatic transmission. Real world figures are obviously less impressive, but the Smart is still cheap to run. It has a tiny fuel tank, though – so expect frequent, if cheap, trips to the petrol station.
While the Smart Fortwo Cabrio is easy to drive in town, it does have some issues. The suspension jiggles and wobbles over uneven surfaces and thumps over potholes, while the fabric roof makes motorway speeds blustery and loud. Speed bumps are uncomfortable too thanks to the short wheelbase.
That said, the Fortwo copes well in corners. The handling is predictable and stable even on country roads, with good body control for the most part. Despite the rear-wheel drive layout there is no sense the car ever wants to spin around even on loose surfaces like in a gravel carpark.
Driver aids include cruise control and a speed limiter as standard, along with hill start assist. Optionally there is a lane keep assistance system that provides a visual and audio warning if the driver starts drifting out of their lane on the motorway, plus a front collision warning system that provides an alert if an imminent crash is detected.
|0.9||52–67 mpg||10.4–10.8 s||97–122 g/km|
|0.9 Automatic||53–69 mpg||10.8–11.7 s||96–122 g/km|
|0.9T 109 Automatic||61–69 mpg||9.5–11.3 s||96–104 g/km|
|1.0||55–69 mpg||14.4–14.9 s||93–114 g/km|
|1.0 Automatic||54–69 mpg||15.1–15.5 s||94–119 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Smart Fortwo Cabriolet (2016)
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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