Smart Fortwo

Car Review: Smart Fortwo (2008-2019)

Possibly the smallest compact car that’s graced the streets of the U.S. and Canada this century, the ultra-economical Smart car managed to produce ten good years of sales up to 2018 (before taking a drastic dip as other makes and models came onto the market), and is the ideal city car. But is it as smart as it appears? Let’s have a look.

Smart Fortwo

The Good

1. It comes in the economical 3 cylinder .07 liter and 1.0 liter gasoline cars with optional turbo, as well as a ‘greener’ electric model

2. Funky good looks with a range of color combinations, body kits and accessories

3. Electric models were introduced in 2017

4. Less ‘footprint’ on the planet

5. Comes in coupe or cabriolet

6. Models 2012 and later featured eight airbags with six in the cabriolet model

7. Ideal for marketing and promotion companies wanting to utilize its eye-catching features

8. Tight turning circle and the best car to park (you can fit 2 smart cars in a normal parking space!)

9. BRABUS Sport Package added in 2017

10. The rear hatch divides into two parts (the window and the bottom trunk) which open up separately and as a single unit

11. A future collectable – especially the electric or turbo models

12. Ideal car for learners – not too cumbersome to maneuver

Smart Fortwo

The Bad

1. Car sales stopped in April of 2019 in the U.S. and Canada

2. Expensive option for what you get in size, quality and any luxurious extras

3. Storage space and room for tall people are compromised

4. No good on unstable road surfaces and potholes which will upset the suspension and struts

5. Manual and semi-automatic transmission not the best on this car

6. Cheap plastic feel on interior fittings

7. Electric car range from fully charged is about 58 miles (but this is basically a city car not designed to go far)

8. Uncomfortable ride for longer than short city trips

9. Relatively high costs for servicing and repair

10. No good in areas with steep hills – especially with the air conditioning switched on

11. Cabin noise is quite noticeable at higher speed

12. The cabriolets fabric soft-tops fade and will eventually need replacing with age

The Essentials

When buying a ‘Smart’ car check the under carriage for signs of damage and test the headlights as these have a reputation for blowing. Car rattles, uneven door alignment and mismatched paint can all be causes of previous accident damage so inspect with a magnifying glass. Look closely at the tread of the front tires for uneven wear as this could be a sign of a failing suspension or bad alignment – which is crucial to keep on top of for a short wheel-based car like this one. The Smart Fortwo requires fully synthetic oil for best performance.  

The Alternatives

Fiat/Abarth 500 (2008-2018), MINI Cooper (2002-2019)

The Verdict

6 out of 10

The Smart Fortwo was designed and made by Daimler-Benz (with the initial help of ‘Swatch’ watches) so there is your answer as to why it costs more to service and repair. Okay, so this car is definitely not designed to go beyond (Nutbush) city limits, and it does have problems if not driven properly (what car doesn’t!), however if you one in great condition, take care of it and treat it the way it should be driven, then you should get a few good years out of it.

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