2008 smart fortwo Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2008 smart fortwo Hatchback

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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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (123 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2008 smart hatch

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Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion 2dr Hatchback (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

My wife and I purchased our smart in 2008, paid way to much. The original dealer dropped it,(like no one knew that was coming) and then went to Mercedes. Other then being treated like a red headed step child by the dealer, probably because this thing is so cheap the car is not bad. It took me a while to get the hang of the herky jerky response, and the A/C stop when you really stomp on the accelerator, which other cars I have had did, so no big deal. I now have 25K miles on it and drive it like you beat a rented mule. No real problems to speak of. I use Royal Purple in it and find that seems to work best for oil. I run with the big dogs on the highway and like it a lot.



17 of 17 people found this review helpful

Daimler won't back

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Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion 2dr Hatchback (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

My 08 smart just turned 50K miles and now I am told that it needs a new engine. Daimler wonÂ’t back up their product or even work with me in any way. I am warning social media to consider other auto companies when it comes time to purchase a vehicle.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great car

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Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion 2dr Hatchback (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

I just downsized from a huge full size sedan to the fortwo and I couldnt be happier. It may be a bit utilitarian in its features but its worth saving $500 a month in gas, is easy to find a space and helps keep life simple. Well worth the purchase, despite the funny looks people give. I'm 6'2 and its surprisingly spacious.



5 of 6 people found this review helpful

Stupid car!

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Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion 2dr Hatchback (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

Had issues from almost day 1. Went through a small puddle during rain storm - caused the passenger seat airbag light to go on. Has never turned off. Barely touch the key while it's in ignition it will turn the engine off. Completely unsafe when you are driving. Had it happen a few times (dog touched it). Have repeated issue with the engine not wanting to go into gear, especially reverse. Don't want to even attempt to do a u-turn because it might not go into R and you are stuck in middle of road. Goes through phases. Works for a few weeks then it doesn't. Someone suggested rain might affect it. Battery dies often too. I live on an island & to ship it over costs $400. Have not seen dealer.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Horn & door problems lies

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Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion 2dr Hatchback (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

I love my 2008 Smart passiion. I have less than 12000 miles on it. The first time i had to use the horn, it does not work, the plastic part on the door hinge is missing. I bought a platinum ext warranty at the time and was told it covered bumper to bumper for 5 years. Now they told me the horn problem is not covered and the door hinge missing part is not covered either. what a rip off, never buy any ext warranty from mercedes benz again. I won't touch any MB either, Lexus gave much better service and had no problems.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

I hate this car so

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Vehicle: 2008 smart fortwo passion 2dr Hatchback (1.0L 3cyl 5AM)

I've had to take this car in for work more than my used '92 Mazda Protege. For various reasons, from plastic pieces falling off the interior to the air dam in the front snapping off and dragging on the freeway. The gas mileage is atrocious for a car this small (around 25 mpg). The transmission is a confused and nervous little curmudgeon that can't decide what gear it wants to be in when you're under 15 mph and keeps jumping back and forth between 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. Every time the gear shifts the car lurches back and lunges forward like I've slammed on the brakes. And this is normal for smart cars, every one I've been in does it, even after having the transmission firmware upgraded.



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.

Introduction

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.

Safety

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

Talk About The 2008 fortwo

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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 33
  • cty
/
  • 41
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs