2008 smart fortwo Long-Term Road Test

2008 Smart Fortwo: Smart vs. Nano

May 04, 2009

smart vs. nano.jpg

So suppose you're looking at rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive runabouts, and you've narrowed it down to the Smart Fortwo and the Tata Nano (possibly the only two in existence, auto rickshaws aside), and you don't have to bother with troublesome details like the fact that the $3,000 Nano isn't available stateside.

If it's performance you're after...well, clearly it's not. But for what it's worth, the Nano does 0-50 mph in an unofficial 16.4 seconds, according to our first drive, while the Smart embarrasses it with a 14.1-second 0-60 sprint. Similarly, the Nano tops out at 65, whereas the Smart will do a rather harrowing 93. Smart owners now have a handy retort for whenever their rides are being ridiculed: "Dude. If you had a Nano, I would smoke you."

The Nano also doesn't come with a radio, and it lacks anything like the Tridion Safety Cell, which means the force of hitting that cow in the middle of the road won't be transferred solely to your internal organs, a la the Smart. To the Nano's credit, though, it has a proper manual transmission, it seats four rather than two, and its claimed 47 combined mpg on regular gas trounces the Smart's 36 mpg on premium.

Here's my question: How much more is the Smart worth than the Nano? Given its edge in safety and performance, and taking into account its inferior fuel economy and passenger capacity, I say about 100%. A $6,000-7,000 Smart car is something I could wholeheartedly recommend.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor

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