2018 Smart Fortwo

2018 smart fortwo Review

A high price tag, limited range and a tight cabin greatly diminish the Fortwo Electric’s appeal.
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

With a tiny passenger compartment, limited cargo room and underwhelming performance, the Smart Fortwo is never going to be a mainstream vehicle. But considering it can fit into almost any parking space and turn on a dime, it undoubtedly has niche appeal for consumers living in dense urban areas. Well, now that niche is even smaller. Smart has discontinued the gasoline-powered model from the current lineup, leaving only the Fortwo Electric Drive version.

On the upside, we think the Electric offers the better driving of the two. It doesn't have the gas model's rough-shifting transmission, and it benefits from the electric motor's instant torque and smooth acceleration. However, the Electric is more expensive than the old gas model, and its maximum range of 58 miles is considerably less than any other EV's.

All of this piles on to the Fortwo's existing problems such as a punishing ride and a low-rent cabin. We strongly recommend checking out other EVs in this price bracket for their better range, greater utility and higher emphasis on passenger comfort.



what's new

The gas-powered Fortwo and its unique options (including the Brabus Sport package and Proxy trim) have been dropped for 2018, leaving the Electric the sole variant in the lineup. Standard equipment now includes a rearview camera and voice recognition through Siri Eyes Free and Google Now software. Android Auto functionality is included when you opt for the Smart Media System, and a 10th Anniversary Edition package can now be ordered on the coupe.

we recommend

The price of the 2018 Smart Fortwo Electric is remarkably high given its shortcomings in utility, comfort, build quality and electric range. So keeping the cash outlay low by getting the base Pure model seems like a good idea. But in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't cost much more to upgrade to the top Prime trim. Doing so gets you leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats and more. Look to also get the center armrest and JBL sound system, which is a big improvement over the standard two speakers.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Smart Fortwo Electric is a pint-size city car with seating for two (get it?) and a surprising amount of passenger space inside. The Fortwo Coupe is sold in three trims — Pure, Passion and Prime — while the Fortwo Cabrio (convertible) is available in Passion and Prime levels. There isn't a huge price differential between the trims, but the starting MSRP for this stylish two-door EV is quite high. As with many cars produced by parent company Mercedes-Benz, there are a number of available features packages and stand-alone options.

The Fortwo Electric's 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 60-kW motor (80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque) drive the rear wheels directly. The EPA estimates that the Smart Fortwo Electric can travel up to 58 miles before it runs out of juice and takes three hours to charge an empty battery using a 240-volt power supply.

The Fortwo Coupe's base Pure trim includes 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, power windows, a rearview camera, a driver information display, cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a two-speaker sound system with an 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.

The Passion trim adds alloy wheels, 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 foglights, cornering lights, a panoramic glass roof, automatic headlights and wipers, leather upholstery, heated seats and interior ambient lighting.

Several options packages are available for the Smart Fortwo Electric. The Cold Weather package adds heated seats and additional cabin insulation, and the new Sport package (Passion and Prime only) dresses up the Fortwo with 16-inch alloy wheels and stainless steel pedals. The 10th Anniversary Edition pack is similar to the Sport, but the wheels are of a different design and certain exterior elements are painted blue. There's also the Smart Media System bundle, which combines a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and Android Auto functionality. It can be ordered with or without a six-speaker JBL audio system.

Individual options include rear parking sensors, a forward collision warning system, imitation leather (premium vinyl) upholstery, a center armrest, and a phone cradle that positions your smartphone in the middle of the dash so it can function as a touchscreen controller.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our first drive of the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Prime, as well as the full rating of the gasoline-powered 2016 Smart Fortwo Proxy (turbo 0.9L inline-3 | 6-speed automatic | FWD), which is no longer available.

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Smart Fortwo lineup has received some revisions, including the deletion of the gasoline-powered Fortwo model starting this year. Our findings from the gas-powered version carry over to the EV model, as well.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall

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
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Quality2.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

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

Driving

Driving a tiny and lightweight car is intrinsically fun. The Fortwo also benefits from the electric motor's instant torque, and it feels quite peppy when you first start to accelerate. But it runs out of steam past about 40 mph. Handling abilities are low.

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.

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.

Noise & vibration

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Levels of road and tire noise are 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.

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 looks modern and fun.

Ease of use

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The stereo is basic but easy to use. 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 of seat travel mean 6-foot-tall drivers will fit relatively comfortably. But when another 6-footer climbs into the passenger seat, you realize how narrow the car really is.

Visibility

The thin front roof pillars and a big windshield provide good forward visibility, but the rearview mirror is narrow and thick rear roof pillars create big blind spots. The Cabrio's tiny rear window makes it even harder to see out back — good thing a rearview camera is standard for 2018.

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.

Convertible top

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The convertible top opens or closes in about 12 seconds (with two pushes of a button). Two roof pillars then manually unlatch and stow away in the trunk. It's a bit of a process to get into full top-down mode, but few of the Smart's competitors can even pull off that trick.

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-size 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, but 9.2 cubic feet of trunk space is nothing special. 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 innovative way to integrate touchscreen controls with the basic radio setup. The 7-inch touchscreen is a worthy upgrade.

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.