2008 smart fortwo Review | Edmunds.com

2008 smart fortwo

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
smart fortwo Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.0 L Inline 3-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automated Manual
  • Horse Power 70 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 33/41 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 smart fortwo

  • The 2008 Smart Fortwo is a tiny, fuel-sipping city car for those whose daily driving limits them to congested downtown streets. As a second, commuting-only car, it's wonderful, but those with room for only one vehicle in the garage may want to consider a larger subcompact or compact car.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Sips fuel, can be parked almost anywhere, zippy around-town handling, surprisingly accommodating interior, attention-getting styling.

  • Cons

    Herky-jerky automanual transmission, pricey compared to larger subcompact cars, awkward floor-mounted brake pedal, not suited for highway travel.

  • What's New for 2008

    The Smart Fortwo is an all-new brand and model in the United States for 2008, sold at a select number of United Auto Group and Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the country.

Gas Mileage


  • 33
  • cty
  • 41
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Words cannot describe how much

by on
Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion cabrio 2dr Convertible (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

Since I have owned this car, the battery died within the first year, random pieces of plastic have fallen off, it has had numerous transmission "software" problems that have left me stranded and ready to walk away from it, the engine blew at 23,000 miles, AND NOW it has yet ANOTHER transmission problem that the service department can't figure out -- I can't get it to shift out of Park when it is cold! THIS IS A PROBLEM! I tell everyone I see when I am at the dealership, I tell everyone that ever asks me about it. The guy in the parts department even agreed with me: "Yeah, I have never heard of a car having that many problems in that combination."

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

58000mile valve job

by on
Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion cabrio 2dr Convertible (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

58000 miles and had to replace fuel injectors..now it needs a valve job. 58000miles????? are they kidding me. every time i bring it to smart they break something. changed a tire and they broke the sensor. had an oil change and they broke the valve. got it back from service and they forgot to put on the engine cover. now it took them more than 2 hours to diagnose low compression in #2 cylinder..remove engine and try to do a valve job. with out changing the guides. now they want to replace the head because they don't know how to redo the heads. is this on the jobs training with my car. also had the no reverse shift problem in the past. smart does not want to help. buy a new one ..yeah right!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Don't buy a 2008 dealer

by on
Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion cabrio 2dr Convertible (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

Really disappointed with this car. Yes it's fun to drive, great to put the top down, and yes its cute- however when I went to trade it in- it turns out that a dealer buy back = LEMON in the car world. Thus- hideous trade in value. Shame on you Annapolis Smart- Mercedes. Buy back = Lemon- run don't walk from the 2008- check the title history, if you see dealer buy back look elsewhere unless you plan on keeping it forever.

Ideal key west car!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion cabrio 2dr Convertible (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

I have a very early 2008 Passion Cabrio. Really enjoy the car, but it's 150 miles to the dealer. Have had many driveability problems. It took Smart 2 1/2 years to figure what the backup problem was. I had cruise control installed, the dealer blamed the backup problem on the cruise. I had the cruise uninstalled still had the problem. I truly love the car but just don't understand Smarts logic as to marketing and service. I'm out of warranty and ready to trade cars Smart Weston acts like they don't want my car back. It is a wonderful car, would be even better if the dealer wasn't 150 miles away. They need better warranty and better service centers.

Lies and and verbal promises

by on
Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion cabrio 2dr Convertible (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

We were one of the first people (71/72nd) in Florida to buy this car 28 months ago. We bought the convertible with all the extras 24k total from the start we started having mechanical problems. We also bought an extended warranty $1400. Time after time the car was having to be towed and it wasn't just one thing. It was the shifter twice the engine twice the a/c and it goes on and on. The car is now broke and sitting in our yard with 30k miles. The warranty doesn't cover transporting the car after 24k. This was after a sales person assured us the if anything go wrong including the tires for 70k miles it will be towed and fixed at no cost.

Two year update

by on
Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion cabrio 2dr Convertible (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

After two years, the honeymoon is over, but the marriage is still good. I adapted to the fussy transmission. A relaxed driving style works wonders. The ride actually improved with time. Winter driving is okay, but winter parking after a snowstorm is painful because the smart is so light. In the Summer, the AC occasionally blows hot air or the fan stops, and this is after the fan was replaced, a popular warranty fix, I've been told. The driver side airbag cover popped a bit. Unsightly. But that's the extent of the bad stuff. Overall, the smart is still mostly a pleasure. I'm 5'9" weigh in the high 200s and the car is comfortable and easy to enter and exit. The ragtop of choice.


Full 2008 smart fortwo Review

What's New for 2008

The Smart Fortwo is an all-new brand and model in the United States for 2008, sold at a select number of United Auto Group and Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the country.


Revolution, dud or something in between? The 2008 Smart Fortwo could be any of these, but which one depends on how Americans respond to this long-awaited city car as it starts to trickle into dealerships around the country. The previous generation has sold more than 770,000 units in other parts of the world since 1998, appealing to urban customers who gravitated to its sky-high fuel economy and park-anywhere size. While most Americans have probably seen a Smart car, only time will tell how many pick one as their daily commuting partner.

Not that it comes as a news flash, but the Mercedes-built Smart is small. Really small. It's more than 3 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper and only a foot longer than an E-Z-GO golf cart. It seats only two people, with a fair-sized trunk above the rear-mounted engine. Yet that silver or black strip that loops around the Fortwo's side is what differentiates this minicar from the E-Z-GO.

Known as the Tridion safety cell, this cage of high-strength steel allows the Smart car to withstand impacts as well as or better than much larger cars. An impressive array of other safety systems -- side airbags, antilock brakes, brake assist, stability control and traction control -- add to its ability to thwart occupant injury. Plus, axles placed close to the passenger compartment provide additional protection in side impacts.

Other markets get diesel and turbocharged gasoline engines, but the America-bound Fortwo will only come with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine. Saddled with 71 horsepower, this powertrain will be able to motivate the 1,804-pound Smart from zero to 60 mph in 14.1 seconds. The wonky five-speed automanual transmission found in the last Smart car has been replaced by an allegedly improved one, which makes us wonder how awful the predecessor was, considering the new car's herky-jerky motions and extreme shift lag. After a quick drive, it will leave you wondering how it's in any way superior to a traditional automatic or clutch-pedal manual.

In total, the Smart has just enough pep around town, but it feels woefully lackluster (and a little worrisome) on the highway. But that's a pretty good way to sum up the entire Smart Fortwo experience. For those who spend 90 percent of their driving time by themselves in traffic or meandering through congested city streets, the Fortwo makes sense (as long as they can put up with the wonky transmission). Its tiny dimensions make finding a parallel parking spot a relatively simple exercise -- although the new model is now too long to be parked perpendicularly on the street. Also, speeds in the city should rarely get so high that the mere sight of a Navigator makes you pack the dashboard with statues of St. Christopher.

But for those who routinely drive on the highway, the Fortwo just doesn't make sense -- even if it gets excellent gas mileage. A similarly priced subcompact will handle high speeds better; ditto the more expensive but greener Prius. The 2008 Smart Fortwo isn't a good choice for most consumers, but for certain urban-based drivers, it's most definitely worth consideration.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Smart Fortwo is a two-seat, subcompact city car available in two body styles. The hatchback Coupe is offered in Pure and Passion trim levels, while the convertible Cabrio only comes in Passion. The base Pure comes with 15-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, leather steering wheel and electric rear window defroster. Power steering, air-conditioning, radio, power windows and alloy wheels are optional on the Pure. The Passion gets all those basic features, plus a panorama glass roof, sport steering wheel with shift paddles, power heated side mirrors and a CD player. The Passion Cabrio adds an upgraded stereo with MP3-compatible in-dash six-CD changer, along with a manually operated canvas roof. Passion options include partial leather upholstery and additional gauges.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2008 Smart Fortwo is powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 71 hp and 68 pound-feet of torque. Surprisingly, it requires premium fuel. The maximum speed is 90 mph, with a 0-60-mph time of 14.1 seconds. A five-speed automanual transmission drives the Fortwo's rear wheels and is shifted without a clutch pedal via a simple console-mounted stick (and column-mounted paddles on Passion models), and there is a fully automatic mode as well. With its 8.7-gallon tank, the Fortwo will return 33 mpg city, 41 mpg highway and 36 mpg combined.


The Smart Fortwo comes standard with side airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and the trademark Tridion safety cell with front and rear crush zones. In government frontal crash testing, the 2008 Smart Fortwo coupe achieved four out of five stars for driver protection and three stars for passenger protection. It achieved a perfect five-star rating for side crash protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Fortwo earned a perfect rating of "Good" for both frontal-offset and side-impact safety.

Interior Design and Special Features

Although certainly snug, the Smart Fortwo offers a surprising amount of space for two people (as the name would suggest). In particular, the driver seat is friendly for taller drivers, unlike subcompacts like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. The passenger seat is also offset 6 inches to the rear to increase legroom, and it can fold flat to increase cargo space. The trunk can hold 12 cubic feet of cargo when packed to its roof line, or a more realistic 7 cubes when packed to the waistline. Interior design is simple yet handsome, resembling something that could have been penned by Ikea. There are a number of monochromatic and two-tone interior options available to liven things up, while the standard cloth upholstery features whimsical patterns. The Pure is extremely bare-bones, so we'd suggest springing for the much better-equipped Passion.

Driving Impressions

A car with a wheelbase as short as many vehicles' widths shouldn't be expected to glide down the road like a Mercedes S-Class, but the new 2008 Smart Fortwo manages to deal well with bumps and thumps. High-speed stability is also pretty good, although strong crosswinds can wreak havoc on its boxy shape. Handling largely depends on how one equips the Smart Fortwo. A base Pure model with manual steering and narrow 15-inch front tires feels ponderous and the front tires give up quickly in corners. Upgrading to power steering and wider tires provides a more adept driving experience, and actually makes zipping through city streets fun.

Unfortunately, the Smart's wonky automanual transmission is its most significant drawback and a potential deal-breaker. The shift lag (particularly between 1st and 2nd) borders on the absurd, requiring you, when in manual mode, to lift off the gas during shifts to prevent the car from lurching forward and your neck from snapping back when the gear finally engages. In automatic mode, it's hard to prevent the lurching at all. Another drawback is the floor-mounted brake pedal, which can require an awkward foot and leg motion for some drivers.

Read our Smart Fortwo Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test


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