Edmunds Full-Test - Smart ForTwo

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,732
    Likes Received:
    1,596
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Get Your Smiles Here (and Park Anywhere)

    [​IMG]
    We stopped to pick up some toys. And a Smart.

    By Josh Jacquot, Senior Road Test Editor
    Date posted: 02-26-2008

    70 hp - 33 mpg city - Automated manual five-speed transmission - 15-inch tires - $15,015

    The 2008 Smart Fortwo has the highest SPM (smiles per mile) factor of any car we've ever driven. We spent a week behind the wheel of the world's shortest production car, but it took only about 20 minutes to realize that it would be hard to do wrong in a car that seems to make everyone happy.

    Want to drive down the Strand in Venice Beach? Go ahead. The cops might encourage you to leave, but they're not going to give you a ticket. How about parking sideways in your neighbor's driveway overnight? We did it. They thought it was so cute they brought us breakfast and wanted a ride. The 2008 Smart Fortwo disarms the angry, calms the uptight and relieves the anxious.

    That's just how it works with the Fortwo. Everyone notices. In a country filled with SUV-driving 'Mericans listening to Britney Spears on the radio, this tiny, distinctly European machine can't be overlooked. It gets attention like a chrome-plated Lamborghini — only the right kind of attention, not the wrong kind.

    Why They Notice

    [​IMG]
    Park-it-anywhere flexibility is a Smart strong point.

    With proportions approximating a cube more than any other car ever built, it's hard not to notice the Smart. Its wheelbase is almost 2 feet (23.6 inches) shorter than that of a Mini Cooper, and there's nothing else in the U.S. that can match such bizarre dimensions. And there's not another car anywhere with an overall length of only 106.1 inches, which, just so you know, is only 5 inches longer than a Hummer H1 is wide. The Fortwo is 61.3 inches wide — about 8 inches narrower than a Mazda 3.

    Surprisingly, all this squareness doesn't make the 2008 Smart Fortwo ugly. Well, not to anyone we ran into, anyway. The odd proportions elegantly incorporate a large greenhouse — both the front and rear glass is huge and there's a large polycarbonate "panorama" roof that has a retractable cover. The idea for the Smart began with the entrepreneur behind Swatch watches, and the wheeled cube still has the dizzy colors and proportions of a Swatch.

    Massive doors fill the void in the side of the tridion safety cell. "Tridion" is Smart-speak for the car's rigid main structure, which is designed to match up with a conventional vehicle's crumple zones in an impact. The Fortwo's front wheels are designed as part of its front crumple zone and its engine absorbs energy in a rear-end collision.

    There are four airbags — two dual-stage units up front and one side airbag in the outer bolster of each seat to protect the head and thorax of the occupants.

    Intelligent Interior

    [​IMG]
    Wear your sunglasses, because orange cloth upholstery covers nearly every surface.

    More smiles were generated inside our test car, where we were amazed by the available space. Much like Dr. Who's TARDIS time machine, there's more room inside than the vehicle's exterior dimensions seem to allow. This is a very good thing.

    An upright seating position helps furnish excellent visibility in every direction, including up. There's ample room for even the largest of drivers — and their luggage. We loaded two adults, two briefcases, a large camera bag and a camera tripod in the Fortwo and had room to spare. A full-size suitcase plus other cargo will fit behind the seats.

    If you choose not to carry a passenger, the unused seatback can be folded flat to accommodate larger cargo like golf bags.
    Unfortunately, the lever to release the seatback is on the inside hinge, which forces the poor soul doing the folding to sort out the physics of reaching it when the seat is folded halfway. It's usually accomplished after a few awkward contortions, which didn't make us smile. The rear glass and tailgate are a better design and open in a clamshell fashion, which is much easier to use.

    The orange cloth covering most interior surfaces in our test car made us feel a little like being inside an orange peel with windows, but we liked it. A tachometer and clock sit in separate housings on top of the dashboard, and they (curiously enough) can be aimed independently toward either the passenger or driver. The instrument panel has an optimistic 100-mph speedometer, although top speed is electronically limited to 90 mph.

    Controls for heating and ventilation as well as the audio system are refreshingly simple and efficient to use.

    Smart Guts

    [​IMG]
    The Fortwo's 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine is rated at 70 hp and 68 lb-ft of torque.

    A Mitsubishi-built, 1.0-liter three-cylinder power plant generates 70 horsepower and 68 pound-feet of torque, and it sits out of sight beneath the rear deck, where it's mounted transversely. It drives the rear wheels through a five-speed automated sequential-shift manual transmission.

    Like many transmissions of this type, the automated manual isn't as good as a conventional manual or a conventional automatic. It has two modes: automatic, which makes gear choices on its own based on throttle position and load; and manual, which allows manual upshifts and even makes a pathetic attempt at rev-matched downshifts. The biggest problem is the sluggish shift speed, and it leaves driver and passenger trading puzzled looks between gears. This transmission simply shifts too slowly, and there's nothing a driver can do about it.

    Compounding the problem is the fact that 70 hp isn't really enough power for American roads — even in a car that weighs 1,804 pounds. Around town we found ourselves using full throttle to keep up with traffic, while on the freeway the power deficit is too often a frustrating liability.

    The Smart Experience

    [​IMG]
    The Fortwo allows you to park in places that usually would get you a ticket. Here it's just a conversation starter.

    Otherwise, the Fortwo is enjoyable to drive. Despite its weight and size, it's not engaging like a sports car, yet it's free of the burdens of larger, heavier vehicles. The steering is slow, yet offers enough feel of the road to make the Smart predictable and easy to manage. And despite the fact that much of the Smart's center of gravity is relatively high, we never got the sense that it was unstable.

    Thanks to the Smart, finding a place to park went from being a necessary evil to a unique challenge. We parked the Fortwo perpendicular to the curb in areas where curb-parallel parking was the norm without impeding traffic. Enforcement agents drove by and smiled.

    The Smart's suspension features struts up front and a DeDion axle out back, and the combination does a decent job of taming inputs from road imperfections. The car's overall ride quality is good, but the highway ride does get busy as speeds increase. By 80 mph, any surface that isn't glass smooth will keep you engaged with the challenge of simply keeping the Smart centered in its lane. There's not a lot of compression travel in the dampers, so slowing down for large bumps is a necessity.

    Smart but Slow

    [​IMG]
    Shooting though traffic is fun in the Fortwo.

    At the track, the notion that the Fortwo's minimal weight might make it reasonably quick vaporized faster than frowns at Disneyland. How's a 19.4-second quarter-mile at 68.8 mph sound? To us, it sounds like we'd better never merge onto the freeway in front of a Peterbilt with worn brake linings. More than 14 of these seconds (14.1 to be exact) are used to achieve 60 mph. That, friends, is slow — 4.8 seconds slower than a Honda Fit, which isn't known for its sprinting ability.

    The Smart's test numbers for handling numbers are similarly uninspiring. The relatively low threshold of intervention by the non-defeatable stability control (the Fortwo comes with ABS, traction control and stability control as standard equipment) keeps the handling limits lower than we expected for a car this size. Around our 200-foot-diameter skid pad, the Fortwo manages only 0.74g. It weaves through the slalom cones at 59.1 mph. Since the Smart is equipped with good-size Continental ContiProContact tires (155/60R15s in front and 175/55R15s in the rear), we expected more.

    The Smart's braking performance is adequate, but pedal feel and response from the bottom-hinged pedal is strange. The Smart stops in 124 feet from 60 mph, a distance that identically matches the performance of the Honda Fit.

    Rated by the EPA's 2008 calculation at 33 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, the Smart isn't as economical as its looks might lead you to believe. Our test car produced 37.2 mpg in mixed driving.

    Smart Money?

    [​IMG]
    Cargo space expands dramatically with the passenger seatback folded flat; there's enough room behind the seats for a large suitcase.

    The price of the 2008 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe starts at $13,590 plus the $645 destination fee. A cabriolet version is available for $3,000 more. Our coupe had $780 in options including two paint upgrades, an upgraded radio, foglamps and the multidirectional dash-mounted tachometer and clock, all of which brought its total to $15,015.

    We like the Smart. It's fun in a goofy sort of way and provides endless opportunities to entertain both neighbors and random onlookers. Problem is, we can't help but think this novelty will wear thin with time. A similarly priced Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris offers better performance, more functional space and almost identical fuel economy for about the same money.

    But neither of those cars can match the Smart's SPM factor.


    [​IMG]
    It all started with the Swatch watch, and the style remains unique and cool.

    MSRP of Test Vehicle: $15,015

    What Works: Look-at-me-and-smile styling; physics-defying interior space; park-it-anywhere flexibility.

    What Needs Work: Slow-shifting transmission; busy highway ride; lack of power.

    Bottom Line: Hugely versatile as a city-only car, but perhaps not the best choice for those who go farther or need to carry more.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. nuclear

    nuclear OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Messages:
    282,925
    Likes Received:
    1,103
  3. nuclear

    nuclear OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Messages:
    282,925
    Likes Received:
    1,103
    Similar mileage and price in a VW Rabbit, but with more room.
     
  4. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    293,913
    Likes Received:
    2,969
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    want, but not until it is super ridiculously fuel efficient
     
  5. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    293,913
    Likes Received:
    2,969
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
  6. BoogieKnight

    BoogieKnight Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2002
    Messages:
    24,196
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Wacko, Tejas


    That's all I needed to read right there. Anyone who buys these cars is a trendwhore faggot.
     
  7. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,732
    Likes Received:
    1,596
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    37.2mpg in SoCal traffic sounds fine for a unique commuter car.
     
  8. Maximillion

    Maximillion New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2003
    Messages:
    5,768
    Likes Received:
    0
    too expensive and not fuel efficient enough for what it is :hsd:
     
  9. JoeyCrack

    JoeyCrack Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2001
    Messages:
    12,518
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    South NJ
    I actually like it
     
  10. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    293,913
    Likes Received:
    2,969
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    unique, but at the cost of practicality without any special savings :down:
     
  11. DaMonsta

    DaMonsta Turnin' whores to carivores, they can't leave my m OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    Messages:
    897
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    if you want fuel economy get a diesel
     
  12. nuclear

    nuclear OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Messages:
    282,925
    Likes Received:
    1,103
    :werd:

    It's all marketing.
     
  13. DOBERMAN

    DOBERMAN New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Messages:
    21,338
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    West Hills - SoCal
    The money I'll save on fuel is not worth the ridicule I'll receive for driving the car :o
     
  14. The Great Deceiver

    The Great Deceiver 21st Century Schizoid Man

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    Messages:
    59,204
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    You are not TriShield
     
  15. King Ralph

    King Ralph Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Messages:
    4,777
    Likes Received:
    0
    The shift speed ruined it for me.. that and the non-existent suspension that communicates every pebble to the underside of your sack.
     
  16. Afanasi

    Afanasi Heterosapien

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    41,028
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York Shitty
    how the fuck does it only get 33mpg? that is so fucking weak
     
  17. nuclear

    nuclear OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Messages:
    282,925
    Likes Received:
    1,103
    engine is too small so it has to work harder :o
     
  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,732
    Likes Received:
    1,596
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Our test car produced 37.2 mpg in mixed driving.
     
  19. themorrison

    themorrison New Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    24,666
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ┌∩┐ATL
  20. Afanasi

    Afanasi Heterosapien

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    Messages:
    41,028
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York Shitty
    misread, but yeah that is weak. better just to get a VW tdi that's twice the size and attain 48mpg
     
  21. gaara46

    gaara46 OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Messages:
    6,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    all the SPM's will be gone when you get t-boned by _______ <-- insert SUV/pickup choice here
     
  22. JoeyCrack

    JoeyCrack Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2001
    Messages:
    12,518
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    South NJ
    and pay twice as much
     
  23. hsmith

    hsmith OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    124,521
    Likes Received:
    585
    Location:
    Your mother.
    :rofl: 35mpg? :rofl:
     
  24. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,732
    Likes Received:
    1,596
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    And it looks like fail along with running on expensive diesel.
     
  25. civic > that
     

Share This Page