Ranking as the smallest car sold in America, the Smart Fortwo typically appeals to drivers who want to take up as little space as possible. That might not sound like everyone's goal, especially since the Fortwo is a two-passenger car, lacking a back seat. Still, it undeniably attracts urbanites who face crowded streets and a dwindling supply of parking spots. As Smart advertisements have shown, a Fortwo could even park sideways, if such a stunt is permissible. A Smart Cabrio (convertible) was absent from the 2016 lineup, but joins the Fortwo coupe in the 2017 model year.
What's New for 2017
Last year, the Fortwo coupe got its first full redesign since its U.S. debut as a 2008 model. A Cabrio joins for 2017. A black-to-yellow metallic grille is new, and grille colors are no longer tied to body color. Foglamps now include a cornering function, and all-weather floor trays are available. Pure models gain a retractable cargo cover, while the Passion gets a tailgate storage compartment. A new BRABUS Sport Package for all but the Pure trim level, priced at $1,900, includes a sport suspension with 0.4-inch lower ride height, a stiffer anti-roll bar, specially-tuned damping, and 16-inch front/17-inch rear wheels.
Choosing Your Smart Fortwo
The Fortwo retains its rear-engine, rear-drive layout and two-person interior. All-new styling for 2016 made the exterior look friendlier and more approachable, not unlike the charming MINI Cooper or the Fiat 500. With no back seat competing for space, front passengers enjoy a surprising amount of room. In addition, you can stuff in about 12 cubic feet of cargo, so routine shopping tasks are quite workable.
Power comes from a tiny turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. Unlike earlier models, that’s enough to permit the Fortwo to keep up with other cars in its (low) price class. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, or you can specify a dual-clutch six-speed automatic.
Fuel economy of the 2016 coupe with automatic was estimated at 34 mpg in city driving and 39 mpg on the highway (36 mpg combined). Manual shift drops the figures to 32/39 mpg (city/highway), or 35 mpg combined. Unlike most micro-size cars, the engine requires premium fuel. EPA estimates for the 2017 coupe are not yet available. A tight (22.8-foot) turning circle, curb-to-curb, promises easy maneuverability.
The Fortwo remains available in four trim levels, also offered in the new Cabrio body style.
Optional on all except the Pure are rear parking sensors and a forward-collision warning system. A $600 Sport Package for Passion and Prime includes a sport suspension, 16-inch black alloy wheels, and paddle shifters.
Obviously, a Fortwo isn’t for everyone—most emphatically, not for those who ever carry more than one passenger. Though fuel usage is frugal, it’s not quite as impressively thrifty as its minuscule dimensions might suggest. Early models were notorious for jerky operation of the optional dual-clutch transmission, so a comprehensive test drive is essential before buying.