Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the smart fortwo pure include 1.0L I-3 89hp engine, 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st row overhead airbag, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 15" steel wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability.
Starting at: $14,650
First-generation Smart cars had problems with ride comfort, noise, and dual-clutch transmission operation, but the redesigned car is quieter and smoother. For such a small car, noise is effectively suppressed. Additional power, plus a turning circle that’s even tighter than before, make it a proficient urban wanderer. Better yet, highway travel feels way more secure.
For the first time, a manual gearbox is available. Still, about four-fifths of buyers are expected to pay for the automated dual-clutch transmission. Partly because the manual gearbox has surprisingly long throws between each gear, with a rather loose shift gate, we think the dual-clutch unit is the better choice. Its shift points nicely matched the tiny engine.
Despite weighing some 200 pounds more, the 2016 Smart accelerates more briskly than its predecessor, though it’s still leisurely. With the manual transmission, we had to rev the engine relatively high to start off smartly.
Overall, handling is good, as the car grips the pavement tenaciously. Traction control limits potential problems that can occur in a tall, rear-engined car with such a short wheelbase.
As for agility, a fortwo can make a U-turn nearly anywhere. You can also maneuver sharply through urban traffic, then slip tidily into parking spots that couldn’t begin to hold a conventional mini-sized car.
Ride comfort is noticeably improved, helped by a wider track and slightly longer wheelbase. Stability is better, and the current model absorbs pavement irregularities with greater ease.
Recognizable as a short but tall Smart car, the fortwo has a blunter nose in a more traditional front end than before. Outlining the slab-sided body structure, the distinctive Tridion safety cell is typically of contrasting color. In addition to helping identify the car, it highlights the strong structure.
For 2016, only the solid-roof Coupe body is offered. Continued from the first-generation are fixed windows to the rear of each door. A bulge above the beltline holds the door handle. The grille features a pattern of various-size hexagons. At the rear, the upper half of the split tailgate opens, while the lower portion folds down.
Changes are more substantial inside, yielding a modern look, far removed from the original utilitarian cabin. Coarse-grained fabric surfaces decorate the dashboard and doors. Seats may have cloth or leather upholstery. The tachometer occupies a pod atop the dashboard.
Headroom is ample and leg space adequate, even for occupants over six feet tall. Comfortable front seats have cushions that are a tad short. A high seating position helps visibility. Only when backing up are you likely to become aware of the cabin’s shortness.
At 9.2 cubic feet, the cargo bay nearly matches the Fiat 500 and beats the Mini Cooper. The cargo cover may be removed and stored behind the seats. Storage space is restricted to door pockets, twin cupholders, and a drawer under the console.
The 2016 Smart fortwo retains its visual identity, while upgrading the interior. Performance and road behavior have improved substantially, increasing its ability to provide comfortable highway trips, as well as ease through commuter traffic. Still, plenty of five-passenger cars are cheaper. Many deliver better gas mileage and, unlike the Smart car, don’t demand Premium gasoline.
Driving impressions by John Voelcker, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
The 2016 Smart fortwo comes in four trim levels. A manual transmission is standard, a dual-clutch transmission is additional ($990).
Smart fortwo Pure ($14,650) includes automatic climate control, cruise control, power steering, power windows, steering-wheel controls, Bluetooth, LED daytime running lights, and 15-inch steel wheels. Passion ($16,140) gets a two-tone interior (black/orange, white, or grey), heated power mirrors, retractable cargo cover, and alloy wheels. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Smart fortwo Prime ($17,490) adds black leather seats, a silver safety cell, heated seats, panoramic roof, exterior LED lighting, foglamps, and rain/light sensor. Proxy ($18,480) gets a white Tridion safety cell and vibrant blue/white interior, plus 16-inch alloy wheels and an eight-speaker, 240-watt JBL sound system.
Edition #1 package has an orange Tridion safety cell with white body panels, black 16-inch wheels, LED lighting, and panoramic sunroof. Upholstery and dashboard blend black, grey, and orange.