Ever cruised around the city trying looking for parking, dreaming of a car that could fit into all those little spots you had to pass up? Here it is: The Smart Fortwo. Did some inconsiderate pickup driver park over the line? No problem. Did an idiot in a Bimmer leave only half a spot between his back bumper and the car behind? With the Smart Fortwo, that spot is yours. The Smart Fortwo makes other minicars look as big as old-school Cadillacs, and if you have to drive in a crowded city, you'll find no better runabout.
Unfortunately, once you head out of the city, the disadvantages begin to pile up. The Smart Fortwo has a hard ride, it accelerates slowly at highway speeds, and the blind spots are huge. You might expect great fuel economy from such a tiny vehicle, but the Fortwo runs on premium fuel, which offsets the savings.
Freshly redesigned just last year, the latest Fortwo is powered by a 0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that puts out 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. Smart now offers a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic, which shifts much more smoothly (and promptly) than the sequential transmission in the older Smart, as well as a five-speed manual. But the new Smart is heavier than the old one, so acceleration is tepid — we clocked the automatic-equipped car to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, and the car feels particularly slow to accelerate at higher speeds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 35 mpg combined (33 city/39 highway) for the automatic and 34 mpg combined (31 city/39 highway) for the manual. Smart also makes an electric version called the Fortwo Electric Drive.
The Smart Fortwo has a turning circle of just 22.8 feet, which means it can pull a U-turn on all but the narrowest of alleys. With its high center of gravity and narrow tires, the Smart isn't a great handler, and the ride is abnormally stiff. Short-wheelbase cars generally have a choppy ride, but the Fortwo takes this to a new level: Large bumps have the potential to toss you out of the seat if you aren't strapped in (which, considering the lack of seat comfort, might not be the worst thing).
At least the Fortwo offers decent room; with only two seats, there's plenty of space. The interior design is stylish and well laid out, but the materials feel chintzy. There's no padding on the door armrests, and a center armrest is an extra-cost option. Because the engine is under the trunk floor, trunk space is limited to just 9.2 cubic feet.
Smart sells the Fortwo in Pure, Passion, Prime and Proxy models; the Pure is a basic grocery-getter, the Proxy is brimming with style, and the Passion and Prime live somewhere in between. Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Smart Fortwo for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.