Smart ForTwo (2007 - 2014)
Improve the world - Start with a Smart
Check out at the passing traffic for a couple of minutes. There is a big chance that the majority of cars have only one person sitting in them. The occasional car has two. A lot of patience and some time later, you might see a car pass by where the rear seat is occupied. Why is it necessary to drag around so much car if only two seats are required? It only costs you unnecessary money, space and energy.
With this in mind, Smart came up with an obvious solution at the end of the previous century: a car which offers exactly what people use and nothing more than that. However logical the idea was, such a radical car was not going to be easily accepted.
Many people were concerned with the safety of such an extremely small car. Consequently Smart equipped the ForTwo with really strong safety roll bars. These are even visible from the exterior of the car. The grey "Tridon" safety cage of the red test car ensures that this little car can even withstand a collision with a much larger car. To prevent accidents, ABS and ESP are standard.
Driving with such a small car shouldn't be a sacrifice and consequently this completely new Smart is just over 5 inches longer than its predecessor. Even so the Smart ForTwo does take some getting used to. The steering is indirect with no feeling. As the driver is right on top of the front wheels, this miniature car feels different to any other small car.
Yet it's only just a question of getting accustomed to it. Gradually the Smart ForTwo does encourage more confidence. It's able to do more and more, and the driver is able to feel the car better and better. What does remain is the extreme side wind sensitivity. The Smart ForTwo feels relatively at home on the motorway, but other small cars such as Daihatsu Charade, Toyota Aygo offer more comfort.
In the city the "Smart ForTwo" is undefeatable. Thanks to its minimal dimensions this Smart takes no time to get used to. The road handling is good; much better than its predecessors. Filtering is childishly simple; irresistible to just cheekily duck in anywhere. Even parking can be done with your eyes closed, although the new Smart is now too long to park across the parking bay.
Not only does the handy format make the Smart ForTwo an ideal city car. The three cylinder 1 litre engine, which was originally 698 cc, is made just for city traffic.
This power source is available in three models. The first is the basic version with 61hp for those that have bought the Smart as a handy budget car. On the other hand, there is a quicker version which delivers a lot more power at 84 hp thanks to the addition of a turbo. The middle version with 71 hp will be the most sold and is also the car that was test driven.
The performance of the test car is good. In the city, the ForTwo is lively and darts like an arrow through the traffic. Even on the motorway its performance is nice. However above 60 miles/hr, it is necessary to go down a gear in order to accelerate more smoothly.
The Smart ForTwo has no clutch. Moving the gear stick either slightly forwards or backwards is sufficient to choose the next or previous gear respectively.
As the engine is small, it is important to choose the right moment to change gears. When the gear is changed too early, there is not enough power available and the car goes quiet. Changing gears too late, results in a lot of noise and unnecessary high fuel consumption. It takes sometime to feel when the moment is right.
With a push of a button on the side of the gear stick, the computer takes over the gear work. The Smart is then completely automatic with five speeds. Unfortunately this automatic doesn't feel comfortable and changes gear very slowly. Why can't there just be a normal gearbox in this car? The gear system was THE point of criticism in the previous generation. It still hasn't been solved adequately with this generation!
The Smart ForTwo looks small, but the interior space is enormous. The engine is under the luggage space, giving legroom right up to the headlights! The seats are pretty comfortable and are reasonably adjustable. The steering wheel is unfortunately not adjustable. As the interior is quite roomy, the ForTwo doesn't feel completely like a miniature car.
The dashboard is unique with all the free space across it. Thanks to the click system accessories such as extra clocks or CD rack supports can be added and fixed. The "Passion" model which was test driven, has as standard air-conditioning, a radio/CD player, electronic windows, remote central locking and a large sunroof, which is made of a lightweight unbreakable plastic.
Does a miniature car also have to have a miniature boot? Smart has also preceded the sceptics. The baggage space is comparable with that of other small cars. The ForTwo is not a moving van, but daily groceries fit thanks to a number of clever devices. The division wall between the boot and the passenger compartment is simple to remove as it is held in place with Velcro. Even in the boot lid, there is another baggage space. In short: for every problem there is a solution; for all the prejudgments there is an appropriate answer.
Smart saw a problem and produced an intelligent solution. The Smart ForTwo offers precisely what the average driver needs. With no superfluous seats, blown-up safety contraptions or unnecessary prestige to drag around, the Smart ForTwo is unprecedently handy, wonderfully roomy, utterly practical, very safe and extremely efficient.
Is the new Smart ForTwo better than its predecessor? The difference with the previous generation is unmistakable. The play factor has fallen on the scales, but the fun is definitely still there. With that the Smart ForTwo is more comfortable, stabile, quicker, roomier and more elegant. If everyone drove in a Smart ForTwo, the world would be a much more beautiful place.
- Totally hip
- Spacious and practical
- Quick, efficient and nimble
- Indirect steering
- (very) sensitive to side winds
- Reduced driving pleasure in comparison to previous generation
"Three makes a beautiful number" Volkswagen Polo
"Young at heart" Toyota Aygo
"I go to Rome"