Engine options are a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, with 70-, 83- or 101bhp outputs (the latter exclusive to the hot Brabus model), or a 54bhp 0.8-litre diesel. We’d go for the 70bhp petrol model, although that's primarily because it's the cheapest; the diesel is slow, while the others are noticeably brisker.
Power steering is only an option yet, without it, parking is more hassle than it should be. Then there's the ride - this tall, short car needs stiff suspension to stop it tottering through bends, so imperfections in the road surface are transmitted to occupants in magnified detail. The front tyres run out of grip pretty quickly, too, but it's comparable with many other city cars.
The biggest disturbance comes from the three-cylinder engine, which sits just behind the seats. It emits a distinctive thrum whenever you touch the accelerator and, although the sound is far from unpleasant, it becomes tiring on long journeys. A semi-automatic gearbox is standard, but up-changes are jerky unless you ease your foot off the accelerator.
Very low running costs are guaranteed whichever model you choose. The Fortwo is cheap to insure, and average economy ranges from 54.3mpg to an incredible 85.6. On the down side, Smart salesmen are reluctant to offer discounts.
Aside from some slightly flimsy heater controls, the interior has a solid, durable feel. The Fortwo was rated fifth in its class in the 2012 JD Power survey, but owners reported that its mechanical reliability was below average.
All Fortwos have a stability control system that helps you keep on the road in tricky conditions. Driver and passenger airbags are also standard, but it's disappointing that side airbags are only optional. An engine immobiliser means thieves will struggle to drive the Fortwo away, but the absence of deadlocks diminishes the car's security. You also get charged for a lockable glovebox on entry-level versions.
The distinctive interior is well laid out and has big, user-friendly buttons and dials. However, some people will struggle to make themselves comfortable because there's no seat-height adjustment and the steering wheel is fixed. If you want a brightly trimmed interior, you'll have to go for the mid-spec Passion model.
Practicality is limited because it has only two seats, but there's enough room for a pair of broad six-footers. Wide-opening doors mean it's easy to get in and out, and although the boot isn't massive, its 220-litre capacity compares favourably with thsoe of other city cars.
Entry-level Pulse cars come with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, electric windows and steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles. Passion models add a panoramic glass roof and satellite-navigation, while the Brabus gets a bodykit, sports suspension and heated leather seats.
Order a brochure, find your nearest dealer or book a test drive