2008 smart fortwo Long-Term Road Test

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Two.

July 13, 2009

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Yes, that's the number of speakers we got with our $15,305. But not only did we get a measly two speakers, we also got a craptastic head unit to boot. Now, I'm not much of an audiophile but this stereo sucks. How much does it suck you ask? Well, think of a late 80's Nissan Hardbody. Now imagine that Nissan with one stock speaker and one speaker that you were forced to pick up from the local Kragen (making a mess of the wiring job while you hastily installed it in the parking lot) because your buddy spilled a large horchata into the other one. The Nissan's stereo sounded better.

On a side note, I caught and passed two people on a freeway on-ramp in our little Smart. Sad.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 18,065 miles

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2008 Smart Fortwo: How It Gets More Power in a Hurry

February 02, 2009

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Last December I mentioned how our 2008 Smart Fortwo upshifts on its own, even when you're in manual mode. But another thing I found out that it does is downshift when you stomp on the throttle looking for more power in a hurry. Sure, automatic transmission cars do this anyway but I don't think I've ever seen an automanual car do it in manual mode.

This weekend when I was trying to follow a friend who was driving a Lexus SUV to a restaurant via the freeway, they jumped on the on-ramp and just gunned it. Since I was in the Smart (um, hello!), there was no way I could catch up with them but at the same time I didn't want to get lost. So I stomped on the throttle while in 4th gear. Wait for me!

Suddenly it seemed like the Smart was trying to muster all the strength it had and I saw that it downshifted to 3rd gear. Its little engine roared and strained. I thought for sure once it hit redline it would upshift itself to 4th as it had before. But nope. So I upshifted. Eventually I caught up with my friend...but that was just because when they realized they lost me they slowed down and waited for me in the slow lane.

Apparently the Audi R8 does this, too, in manual mode but the Nissan GT-R and Mitsubishi Evo X don't. Not that I'm saying the Smart in the same league as those cars. Pshaw! Just thought it was interesting and wondered which other cars do the same thing.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 13,471 miles

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Needs Clearer Lock/Unlock Symbols

January 02, 2009

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Something that always bugged me about our 2008 Smart Fortwo is the unlock/lock symbols on its keyfob. In the picture above you can easily tell the difference which symbol means to unlock or lock the car.

But....

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Keeping Me Warm at Night

December 10, 2008

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This is the reason I chose to take our 2008 Smart Fortwo over the biodiesel Jetta last night. I don't know about you but 58 degrees is pretty chilly out and I wanted to keep warm on the drive home. OK, I use seat heaters even when it's 72 degrees out.

In any case, I kinda like the cloth seats with the seat heater, it makes the seat feel like I'm sitting on a heated blanket. And at the highest level -- the two bars -- I was comfortable, not scorched. The heating seems focused primarily on my lower back though and not so much my bottom. But I'm not complaining. Rush hour was nice and cozy.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Time for Service? You Better Have Good Eyes.

October 30, 2008

tinysmartservicereminder.jpg One convenience feature in our 2008 Smart Fortwo is an oil service reminder. But like the rest of the car, the reminder is tiny and easy to miss. It's an itty-bitty wrench that flashes for about 15 seconds at start-up. If you're busy with something else like buckling your seatbelt, you'll miss it.

That is why we're now at "-500" -- meaning we should have changed the oil 500 miles ago. The "-500" also only appears during the 15-second window; thereafter, you see the normal odometer display.

If you're wondering, we do take foolish pride in our lack of punctuality. However, at this point, it seems like the Smart's maintenance wrench should be staying on all the time to give the owner a necessary kick in the butt. But it doesn't.

A service appointment is being scheduled. We'll let you know how it goes.

Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 10,520 miles

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2008 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe: Aux in Box

September 08, 2008

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Last Friday I did the unthinkable. I drove the car I was assigned to, the Hyundai Veracruz, out of our office complex, turned immediately around and went back into the building to get the keys to the Smart. Now it's not that I don't like the Veracruz (save for the steering, I dislike that greatly) it's just that for my needs this weekend the Smart was the better option.

My needs you ask? Driving home Friday while listening to an audiobook on my iPod and then driving into work Monday while listening to the same tale. I planned on doing a lot of walking this weekend, I doubted I'd put 50 miles on whatever I took home.

Concealed conveniently in the glove box (where it should be to prevent wires snaking throughout the cockpit) of the Smart is an aux input. The Hyundai doesn't have one. Chalk one-- and just one-- win for the little red shoe.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 8,802 miles

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2008 Smart Fortwo: Audio Controls

July 22, 2008

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The 2008 Smart Fortwo is all about efficiency of space. But that idea didn't quite make it to the audio controls. If anything, the "head unit" is wasted space.

The prominent "SRC" button cycles just two things: the CD player and AUX input. There's a "Mute" button, but it effectively does the same thing as the power button. The "Menu" button is hardly a menu as there's just one function listed: Loud, which is a bit ironic given that our car has just two speakers.

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