2017 Smart Fortwo

2017 smart fortwo Convertible Review

<p>The Smart Fortwo is an interesting, if deeply flawed, fuel-efficient city car.</p>
2.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

One of the most infuriating issues that anyone living in a big city will inevitably have to deal with is parking. Perhaps a sports car is splitting two stalls. A pickup is crammed into a spot marked "Compact." Or maybe the only opening is next to a sidewalk, and you aren't the world's greatest parallel parker. If any of these scenarios seem familiar, you might be drawn to the small footprint of the 2017 Smart Fortwo.

The Fortwo is instantly recognizable for its compact dimensions (competing subcompacts such as the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper are even bigger). It's the ruler of the parking lot, slotting into spots too tight for normal cars. It's also easy to maneuver on the street, especially the Electric Drive EV, with the instant power afforded by its battery pack. But take it out of crowded cityscapes and much of its appeal is lost. Acceleration is extremely slow at highway speeds, the ride is unforgivably rough, and its blind spots are wide. Unless you absolutely need a Fortwo for its short length, most rivals are a better buy, even if they are slightly pricier.



what's new

The 2017 Smart Fortwo is now available in a convertible body style (Smart calls it a Cabrio) to complement the existing Coupe. The Smart Electric Drive electric vehicle also enters the fold; it too can be ordered as a Coupe or Cabrio. Models with foglights also get cornering lights. A Brabus Sport package is also new for 2017. Later in the year, the Electric Drive's available touchscreen will be optional for the gas-powered car.

we recommend

We think the upper-mid Prime trim is a good way to go. Its leather upholstery, heated seats, ambient lighting and panoramic glass roof add an air of luxury to a car that is otherwise draped in unappealing plastics and an overwhelming sense of thrift. The top-end Proxy doesn't cost much more, but we can do without its sporty suspension. That said, its shift paddles make living with the automatic transmission a bit more palatable. The Electric Drive Fortwo is much easier to drive, but we can't recommend it until we know how much more it costs than the gas-powered version.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Smart Fortwo is a pint-sized city car with seating for two (get it?) and a surprising amount of passenger space inside. Available as a coupe or convertible, its rear wheels are driven by your choice of a gasoline engine or an electric drivetrain. The gas-burner is a turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder (89 horsepower, 100 pound-feet) paired to either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Electric Drive's 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 60-kW motor (81 hp) drive the wheels directly. The gas Fortwo comes in Pure (Coupe only), Passion, Prime and Proxy trim levels, while the Electric Drive is available in Pure, Passion and Prime trims.

The Fortwo's base Pure trim includes 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, power windows, cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a two-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary input and a USB port.

Also standard is the ability for iOS and select Android smartphone users to download a free Cross Connect app that controls phone, audio, internet streaming radio, vehicle information and a navigation system.

Stepping up to the Passion trim adds alloy wheels, black exterior trim, heated and power-adjustable mirrors, contrasting interior upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, an additional storage compartment in the center console and a retractable cargo cover.

The Prime further dresses up the Smart with silver exterior trim, foglights, cornering lights, a panoramic glass roof, automatic headlights and wipers, leather upholstery, heated seats and interior ambient lighting.

The range-topping Proxy trim adds 16-inch wheels, white exterior trim, a sport suspension, alloy pedals, shift paddles (for the automatic transmission only) and an eight-speaker JBL sound system (six speakers for the Cabrio).

Available for Passion, Prime and Proxy models is the Brabus Sport package. It includes the Proxy's sport suspension and shift paddles and adds a stiffer anti-roll bar, gray-painted wheels, staggered-width performance tires, and unique interior and exterior styling elements. A separate package bundles a rearview camera with rear parking sensors. Individual options include a forward collision warning system, imitation-leather (premium vinyl) upholstery and a phone cradle that positions smartphones in the middle of the dash and allows it to function as a touchscreen controller. A conventional touchscreen will be available as an option later in the model year for gas-powered models.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Smart Fortwo Proxy hatchback (0.9L 3-cyl. turbo; 6-speed automatic).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall2.5 / 5.0

Driving

2.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking2.5 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling1.0 / 5.0
Drivability2.0 / 5.0

Comfort

2.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort2.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort1.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.0 / 5.0

Interior

2.5 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.5 / 5.0
Visibility2.0 / 5.0
Quality2.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating

Being tiny and lightweight affords some intrinsic fun, including a higher perception of speed and the tightest turning radius for a current production car (22.8 feet). Despite the improvements made, the Fortwo ultimately misses its mark of being a great car for the city.

acceleration

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The new three-cylinder engine has decent midrange power now that it's turbocharged, making it a more effective tool for threading traffic. It'll hit 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, which isn't fast but is slightly quicker than the class average. The EV feels quicker from a stoplight.

braking

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Stopping distance tops subcompact performance at 110 feet, but the experience is unsettling. Under hard braking, the front end wiggles and rear tires may skid, which is the last thing you want during panic stops. The transition from the EV's regenerative to mechanical brakes is not noticeable.

steering

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The Fortwo's steering is direct and responsive without being darty. It's surprisingly stable at higher speeds. There isn't much road feedback, but this isn't a performance car, so the tuning and effort are good for its purposes.

handling

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A high center of gravity, relatively narrow track and skinny tires conspire to keep handling abilities very low. This isn't a car that you can sling around turns. The Fortwo's stability control skews conservative for safety reasons, cutting power and applying brakes if it senses a whiff of danger.

drivability

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The new twin-clutch transmission dramatically improves drivability over the previous generation but still delivers subpar smoothness within the 1 to 20 mph range. This is unacceptable for a city car. The EV fares much better because it provides uninterrupted acceleration.

comfort

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You might assume the Fortwo gets dinged on comfort due to its smallness, but size doesn't factor in here. Seat comfort is compromised for aesthetics, and the suspension is much too stiff to provide any peace over rough city roads.

seat comfort

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The cushions offer decent padding but have minimal lateral and lumbar support, and a seam on the bottom cushion is noticeable and distracting. There's zero padding on the door armrest. The optional inboard armrest is worth getting.

ride comfort

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With an extra-short wheelbase, large road bumps are an adventure. Hit them with some speed, and you'd leave your seat if you weren't strapped to it. The ride is continuously busy because of the stiff suspension tuning. Not recommended for extended highway use.

noise & vibration

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Road and tire noise is mostly quelled, but the Fortwo's flat front nose pushes air like a mini bulldozer, which makes it sound windy outside at all times. In the cabriolet, noise is even more apparent. Hearing the engine work in back would be excusable if it made more pleasant sounds.

interior

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Some cost-saving measures, such as the nonadjustable cupholders molded into the hard plastic center console, are laughably obvious. But there are some redeeming qualities to the Fortwo's interior, such as generous passenger leg- and headroom and a cabin design that feels modern and fun.

ease of use

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The stereo is basic but easy to use, offering USB and auxiliary inputs to pipe your music through the cabin speakers. The climate controls are also straightforward and are done up in a creative and stylish fashion. Simple does work.

getting in/getting out

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Wide door openings and a low step-in make this tiny car surprisingly easy to get into. However, the doors are long, which might hamper your ability to easily open them in tighter parking spaces.

roominess

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The Fortwo creates a mirage of roominess inside. The steering column doesn't telescope, but the high roof and useful amount seat travel mean 6-foot drivers will fit relatively comfortably. But then another 6-footer climbs into the passenger seat and you realize how narrow the car really is.

visibility

edmunds rating
Thin front roof pillars and big glass provide good forward visibility, but the rearview mirror is narrow and big rear roof pillars create big blind spots. The Cabrio's tiny rear window makes it even harder to see out back; no rearview camera is available. Optional park assist systems recommended.

quality

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With the exception of the seats and headliner, not one surface in the cabin is soft to the touch. A chic and trendy-looking interior design makes the hard plastic appear less cheap, but it's hard to pick out anything of real quality in this cabin.

utility

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You don't buy a Smart expecting much in the way of storage solutions, but the Fortwo does the best with what it's got. The pull-out drawer from the center console is clever, as are the storage nets behind the seats. The bottom edge of the soft top folds up to increase the cargo opening.

small-item storage

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There are two small central cupholders and a decent-sized holder in each door. There's a net behind the seats that will carry light items just fine. A small tray slides out from the central console on the passenger side, which is good for keys, coins and other small things.

cargo space

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The passenger seat cleverly folds flat for longer cargo items, and 9.2 cubic feet of trunk space eclipses the Mini Cooper's 8.7 cubic feet. The Cabrio's cargo area measures 8.9 cubic feet, decreasing to 6.7 cubes when the top is rolled down. Only small convertible sports cars offer less.

technology

The free Cross Connect app that turns your phone into an audio and navigation controller is an inventive way to integrate touchscreen controls with a very basic radio setup. The 7-inch touchscreen is a worthy upgrade, but it won't be available until well into the 2017 model year.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.