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2008 smart fortwo

Overview
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2008 smart fortwo Review

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Americans don't like small cars. That's an over-generalization, of course, but there's little doubt our country's is the biggest, heaviest vehicle fleet in the world. Record gas prices and increasing environmental awareness, though, have combined to create a bona fide boom in sales of compact cars. In some respects, Mercedes-Benz couldn't have chosen a better time to introduce to the U.S. its smart brand microcars that have been tooling around Europe for 10 years now. The new, second-generation fortwo is also larger than the first (believe it or not), which is just the way we Americans like it.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you like the idea of driving a car that turns heads and starts conversations, or if you face parking challenges on a regular basis, the fortwo may be for you. The fortwo cabriolet boasts the added advantage of being the most affordable convertible available.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking to mitigate the financial impact of a longish highway commute, you might be disappointed in the affordable and fuel-efficient smart fortwo's skittish highway manners. You may also find frustrating the shifting behavior of the fortwo's "automated manual" transmission.

What's Significant About This Car?

As an affordable, fuel-efficient but charming vehicle for getting from Point A to Point B, the 2008 smart fortwo is without peer.

Driving the fortwo

Driving Impressions For a vehicle so extremely compact and lightweight, we found the 2008 smart fortwo's highway ride quite comfortable. The faster you go, however, the more skittish the fortwo becomes, and...

we eventually tired of having to constantly "steer" the car straight down the road. Similarly, we never got used to the automated manual transmission that swaps gears with all the grace of a backhoe. Where we most enjoyed our time at the controls of the smart fortwo was in parking lots, where the car's micro measurements and sub-30-foot turning circle combine to deliver an almost comical sense of agility. Although the smart fortwo's 90-mph top speed and 13-second zero-to-60 mph acceleration qualify it as one of the slowest new vehicles on the road, the upside is that you get to "floor it" more often.

Tridion Safety Cell
There's no escaping the fact that the 2008 smart fortwo is essentially the smallest, lightest vehicle on the road, but it's demonstrated impressive crashworthiness.

Convertible Roof
Some newer convertibles let you open or close the top at speeds up to 25 or 30 miles per hour. In the smart fortwo, you can let the sunshine in -- or shut the rain out -- even when maxed out at the car's 90-mph top speed.

2008 smart fortwo Details
Interior

The big story inside the 2008 smart fortwo is roominess. Plenty of headroom, a relatively compact instrument panel and open space where you'd expect a center console all contribute to an interior that feels less confined than that of the significantly longer and wider MINI Cooper. The fortwo even boasts a larger rear cargo area than the MINI Cooper (the MINI's two extra fold-down rear seats notwithstanding). The interior styling is unique, but not as quirky as the car's exterior design might lead you to expect.

Exterior

More than just tiny, the smart fortwo looks like nothing else on the road. The body panels are made of dent-resistant plastic, and the design element that runs from behind the front wheel up to the roof is actually part of what the company calls the "tridion" safety cell -- made of high-strength steel and painted black or metallic silver. The second-generation fortwo is nearly 8 inches longer than the first model, which can be parked nose-first between parallel parked vehicles. Whether local law enforcement and the added length allow that to happen in the U.S. remains to be seen.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Conspicuously absent from the smart fortwo's standard equipment list are a sound system, air conditioning, power windows and power mirrors. "Luxuries" provided at base price include power locks with remote keyless entry, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and transmission selector. A full complement of standard safety equipment includes four airbags, electronic stability control and an advanced braking system.

Optional Equipment

In addition to power windows and mirrors, a CD sound system and air conditioning with automatic climate control, the 2008 smart fortwo's options list includes heated leather seats, a fixed panorama glass roof and a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters.

Under the Hood

Tipping the scales at just 1,800 pounds (700 pounds less than a Mazda MX-5 Miata), the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive 2008 smart fortwo is able to make its way in the world by means of an unusually small three-cylinder engine (that requires premium-grade fuel). The attached five-speed transmission is also distinct in that it's essentially a manual gearbox that the fortwo electro-mechanically manages automatically -- there's no clutch pedal or manual shift lever.

1.0-liter three-cylinder
71 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
68 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/41

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2008 smart fortwo Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 201 Ratings for the 2008 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    8.2/10
  • Comfort
    8.5/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

most misunderstood great engineering ever!

By on Friday, January 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "perfect for congested places, park anywhere"

Cons: "Benz shop rates if you need repair"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"if you live in a crowded city with slow traffic and impossible parking, and you tried living with a "normal" car, you will totally get the smart. Small, nimble, very comfortable for two and reasonable good on gas - you will not miss your "real" car. Why? Because what you gain in a real car - more seats, more room for gear, more power - are the very things that will drive you nuts every day trying to get around in a congested city. The smart is a brilliant solution to inner city congestion - everywhere else it is a duck out of water. If you live in the typical suburb, the prairies or freeway heaven LA - you will never "get" the smart - but why do you care?"

13 people out of 23 found this review helpful

A blast to drive

By on Friday, January 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,200

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fun, handling, easy to park, great brakes"

Cons: "Wind noise above 75MPH"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"leased this Cabriolet because it is sharp looking, fun to drive, and different. I have only my wife as an occasional passenger and don't need a big klunker. Lease deal is great, so I can turn in with 36000 miles and still be on warranty. Averaging 39 MPG and have had no problems. Top works great even at 70 MPH. Get a weeks worth of groceries in rear or two carry on bags when going to airport. Love the automatic clutch manual. People who don't like the tranny are most likely trying to drive it in automatic which is not the best way. With the paddle shifters, I put it in the gear I want and have plenty of acceleration up to about 65 MPH. Above 75 mph get a lot of wind noise, but never drive on interstate for more that 10 miles at a time, so no problem. Fit and finish is excellent for a very low priced car. Love the radio with the flash drive in the glove box. Everything neat and out of the way."

11 people out of 24 found this review helpful

Outstanding value

By on Monday, January 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Outstanding value; safe and inexpensive to drive"

Cons: "Comfortable but spartan interior"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Smart is a spin off of Mercedes and the mechanical parts reflect this heritage. If you are looking for luxury and power, this is not your vehicle. But if you are looking for a safe car that is fun to drive, easy to park, highly reliable, and an outstanding value to drive, the smart fortwo may be for you"

7 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Love this car!!

By on Friday, November 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great price,fun to drive, very reliable"

Cons: "honestly haven't found any yet"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Just chillin'

"I bought a 2009 Smart Passion new in June '09. Five-plus years later, I'm still in love with this little bug. It would take something HUGE to have me get rid of it. Many reviews talk about how uncomfortable/tedious it is or would be to drive for a long time on the highway. Well, in July 2014, me and my Smart car drove round-trip from Nashville to Maryland, 680 miles, 11 hours, stopping only for gas and the occasional stretch. It was terrific! I was comfortable, not stressed out being on interstates w/larger vehicles, and arrived without feeling wrung out. Since I bought it, I've needed only new tires, windshield washers, and a new battery (beyond the recommended oil changes, etc.). Guys...it doesn't get much better than this!"

24 people out of 38 found this review helpful

Just chillin'

Fun to drive, easy to park and easy to fuel up.

By on Friday, November 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 56,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "It's a great car to drive and own"

Cons: "Bouncy, noisy & transmission which is unusual"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"If you ever had a beetle in your life you'll soon realize the similarities. Best maneuvering ever, such as quick U-turns, turning a small space into a parking spot. Fantastic interior room contradict its exterior size. Plenty of power contrary to what some believe. If I can't pass I wait it's simple. Mileage is great averaging a 'true' 39 mpg in around town driving. The car wasn't bought because of mileage anyway, for that there are better more expensive and poor handling Hybrid cars with heavy batteries. I get over 350 miles on a tank of gas, so I don't have to go to the gas station very often. So far I have been fortunate to only spent money on maintenance and that is at a local foreign car repair shop. Dealers as we all know are far too expensive. The built in radio and speakers are mediocre at best and can be upgraded by an independent shop. Heavy winds on a highway will keep keep my driver participation on a higher level, yet I still enjoy driving it... regardless. Why because I believe the smallest car at 8ft 8" is a marvel in engineering. It has the ESP feature which will prevent the car from swerving into a dangerous situation. That's another marvel of engineering and is standard on all new cars now. As for a good looking car, I believe it is well designed and I always am pleased to see it one on the road for it's something like on a cover of a Pop. Science of years ago. Two people in great comfort sitting upright gives one a great feeling of security unlike sitting in a Mazda Miata which is quite low in comparison.. The NASCAR type cage is what gives me a perceived safe feeling because when hit, the car will bounce away and not simply collapse. I also realize a larger car may be safer, yet I can maneuver faster to avoid an possible accident. There's always someone bigger than you-- no matter what you drive. When shopping the rear area is surprisingly spacious for cargo and one can take long slim items up to 76" long between the footwell by the seats to a closed rear window. I changed out the exterior to another color with a friend in two- three hours, resold the panels and came out even monetarily. With what other car can one do this? So do I like my car? Yes"

12 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Love to drive it and so easy to get around town.

By on Sunday, November 16, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Low price, easy and fun to drive. 40 MPG!"

Cons: "You sit very close to your passanger."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is a very affordable (40 MPG!) and fun car to drive. Two larger adults can easily fit in it. It has lots of head room. My 85 year old mother loves it because it is so easy for her to get in and out of. The door opens wide. The amount of glass all around gives you a wide open feeling for such a small car. Even though the space is small in the back, packed right, I can load a whole basket of Costco goods in it. The passenger front seat folds down for longer items. People always stop and ask me about it. They worry about the safety of such a small car. I tell them to go to the OFFICIAL car safety sites. The Smart is rated very well - in the same league as all small cars. It has front and side air bags and is built around a steel safety cage. I've had this car for 4 years and have no complaints."

12 people out of 20 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?