By Allyson Harwood
KBB Expert Rating: 6.2
Charming, pint-sized and legitimately unique, the 2-seat Smart Fortwo is a city-dwelling car that isn't in the mainstream. The Smart Fortwo coupe was all-new last year, and the huge improvements make it the best Fortwo to date -- it's wider, with a new automatic transmission and a bevy of new standard features including Bluetooth and automatic climate control. The niche Fortwo isn't for everyone, as there's no rear seat and there are more practical options for the money, but those who want urban transport that stands out more than the larger Chevy Spark or Mitsubishi Mirage have another option. There's a Smart Cabrio on the new platform for 2017, as well as an Electric Drive coupe -- and an ED Cabrio is coming soon.
The Fortwo may be the ultimate city car. You can park in street spaces that are too small for a minicar, and its phenomenal turning radius makes it easy to maneuver through narrow city streets. There's room for only two, but those two will enjoy the Fortwo's surprisingly roomy cabin.
If you want to drive around with more than one person, don't relish the idea of filling up with super unleaded, want fuel economy better than 38-highway mpg, or in the case of the Fortwo ED more than 75 (estimated) miles of range, there are better cars out there.
KBB Expert Ratings
Smart continues its model rollout on the new-and-improved platform, which started with the all-new Fortwo coupe in 2016. 2017 brings a cabriolet and an electric-drive coupe on the new platform, with an ED cabriolet soon to follow. This year there are more customization options, including a Brabus Sport package.
Thanks to the new 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, gas-powered Fortwos are much more pleasant to drive than they were in the past. The engine is an 89-horsepower, 0.9-liter 3-cylinder that...
... won't get you anywhere all that quickly, but the transmission's shifts are smoother and power delivery better than it was in the past. The current Smart Fortwo feels more stable on the highway than the first generation did, and ride quality is better around town. The Fortwo now feels more substantial and less toy-like.
The entire passenger compartment of the Fortwo is a high-strength steel cage called the Tridion safety cell. Thanks to the Tridion cell, the Fortwo can hold its own in the event of an accident, as proven in crash tests with much larger vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
TINY TURNING CIRCLE
Did you see that perfect parking spot across the street and want to get it before someone else snaps it up? Take advantage of the Fortwo's 22.8-foot turning circle, make a quick U-turn on a 2-lane city street, and be the envy of everyone who ogled that space.
The Fortwo's cabin is surprisingly roomy for two, and its charming 2-tone color schemes make the interior feel spacious and welcoming. There are high-quality materials throughout, and the seats are more comfortable than you'd expect on longer drives. The interior isn’t perfect though, as the steering wheel doesn't offer tilt or telescoping adjustment, and there are storage cubbies but they aren't all that useful.
The Fortwo model line, starting with the gas coupe in 2016, benefited from all-new styling that carries on to the 2017 Cabrio and ED coupe. The large, round headlights and happy-to-see-you smiling grille on such a short car give the Fortwo the look of an enthusiastic puppy. The wider Fortwo looks more substantial than the first generation did, yet is about as long as some motorcycles. In the Fortwo Cabrio, a clever cutout in the rear hatch tailgate lets you stow the roof bars when you want the full convertible experience with the top down and the bars off.
Automatic climate control, daytime running lights, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control are standard fare. Crosswind assist is also standard, and welcome on this short-wheelbase car. With the gas-powered coupe and cabriolet, the standard transmission is a 5-speed manual. Power windows and power steering are standard, which you couldn't say about the Fortwo two years ago. A center armrest, however, is optional.
You can opt for a height-adjustable driver seat, 8-speaker JBL sound system, panorama sunroof, a sport package with sport suspension, paddle shifters, proximity-warning safety feature, and a rear-tailgate storage compartment. If driving a stick doesn't appeal, Smart offers a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with the gas engine. For 2017, you can add fog lights with a cornering function to the optional lighting package. You can customize the Fortwo's color scheme, including the color of the Tridion cell and the grille. For even more customization, the Brabus Sport package has a lowered, retuned suspension and Brabus styling cues.
The Fortwo is available in two body styles, coupe and cabriolet, with either a gas engine or an electric powertrain. The gas engine is a 0.9-liter, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts out 89 horsepower, backed by either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. While the new-for-2016 dual-clutch automatic isn't all that smooth during low-speed parking maneuvers, it’s a huge improvement over the transmission it replaces, and will give you better fuel economy than with the manual transmission. Note: The gas engine requires premium unleaded fuel.
0.9-liter turbocharged inline-3
89 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
100 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/38 mpg (manual), 33/38 mpg (automatic)
3-phase synchronous electric motor
118 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
Range on a full charge: N/A
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Smart Fortwo's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is up only about $175 compared to last year. A base-model Smart Fortwo Pure coupe starts at $15,575, including the $925 destination fee. Choosing the automatic transmission adds $990. If you opt for the top-line Smart Fortwo Cabrio Proxy, you can spend upward of $24,000. Minicars like the Chevy Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage start at a lower price -- below $14,000 -- have two rows of seats, more cargo area, and pitiful resale value. Those who are looking at the Smart Fortwo, however, want something more than pure practical transportation. Do check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Fortwo.