Review of: 2016 Smart fortwo 2dr Cpe Passion
2016 Smart Fortwo: Smarter
By Matt Bubbers
Apr. 15, 2016
A new Smart car—‘So what?’ you’re thinking, ‘That’s not a car for me! Too small, too silly, not practical.‘
Well, I thought so, too. But then I drove the new one. It’s all-new for 2016: the awful old gearbox has finally been replaced, and the Smart is now a very tempting little car.
Pros & Cons
- + Turning circle
- + Well-matched engine/transmission
- + City fuel economy
- - Steering feel
- - Price of options
- - Value for money
New for 2016, the Smart actually looks good.
This is a city car. It’s for people who need a car — and need to find parking — in urban areas. If you’re looking for something frugal for your daily highway commute, there are better options.
For cities, though, the Smart is the perfect size. It fits down alleyways, into tight parking spots, and can U-turn on a dime. Parking garages suddenly seem spacious. Spending time with the Smart starts to make you wonder why exactly cars have become so huge. What does all the extra space do?
Step up to the car and you become very aware of how tiny it is. Can I really fit into that? You open the door, and it’s nearly the whole length of the car. But step in, sit down and it feels spacious—airy even, with the glass roof. It is narrow, though. The tiny trunk has room for groceries and that’s about all.
I enjoyed the fabric-covered dashboard, which comes in orange or black. But it is a matter of personal taste.
Argh! What’s this giant plastic tentacle sticking out of the dash, blocking the radio controls? It’s a clunky smartphone holder. And the first thing you should do is get rid of it. You can get aftermarket units that stick to the windows and don’t obstruct anything. Alternatively, you can opt for the $1,400 touchscreen package which adds navigation, Bluetooth audio streaming, voice input, power heated mirrors and more.
But the technology in the Smart goes deeper than gadgets. The car is constructed around a solid passenger cell — just like F1 race cars — to create a strong, safe, lightweight vehicle. Safety systems available include crosswind assist; forward and rear collision warning; hill-start assist; tire pressure monitor; and rear parking radar.
The biggest shock about driving the new Smart? It’s ridiculously fun. More fun than a Fiat 500, more fun than a basic Mini Cooper—more fun than driving many sports cars in the city. You can whip it around corners and charge down off-ramps and it feels almost like a toy; a bicycle maybe.
There’s not much grip if you really start pushing it, but that’s a big part of what makes it so fun. The steering can feel oddly vague, but response is quick. Turning circle? Just under seven metres. Nothing else drives quite like this.
With just 89 horsepower from the three-cylinder turbo motor, the Smart is quick — at least at city speeds — thanks to a curb weight of just 965 kg. I do admit to laughing manically on several occasions, zooming away from a stop, leaving gigantic SUVs eating dust and guzzling gas.
The smart is proof-positive it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.
A six-speed dual-clutch automatic is a $1,400 option, with a five-speed manual as standard. Mercifully, the automatic is excellent. It does not send you rocking back and forth like the old one used to.
The Smart Fortwo starts at $17,300 in Canada, but if you want the nifty fabric dashboard and automatic gearbox that quickly rises to $20,200. Navigation is $1,400 and a sport pack which adds blacked-out trim and nice alloys is available for $800. Metallic paint is $395 and matte finish is $495.
That’s well up into Honda Civic territory. But if you’re looking for a second car to go with your Mercedes sedan or SUV, it’s relatively cheap.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.5 L/100 km city and 6.1 highway.
The big problem with the little smart is that there are only two seats. For the same money, there are plenty of sub-compact and compact four- and five-seaters on the market.
So it’s a choice you’ll need to make: do you value style and driving dynamics or ultimate practicality? If it’s the latter, the smart might not be for you. Having only two seats is the sacrifice you make for having the most compact, lightweight and fun-to-drive car $20,000 can buy.
If only Smart would sell the four-door model in Canada, you wouldn’t have to sacrifice at all.