Performance in a city car like the Smart is never going to be a determining factor. For the Smart this is a good thing, as its modest output of 70bhp, even in a car this diminutive, makes it feel pretty slow. There’s certainly enough power for zipping around town, but on motorways and A-roads it takes a concerted effort to keep up with the traffic and the engine needs to be revved hard.
The engine's low-speed refinement is also poor. At idle, too much vibration is felt in the cabin, while the Smart's lethargic start-stop system sends the engine juddering back to life too slowly to be helpful in town.
It's made worse by the automatic 'box. Its reactions are dim-witted when moving off. Gearchanges on the move are snappier, but getaways are sluggish and spurts of acceleration require advanced planning, while crawling along in traffic can be jerky. Sport mode improves matters a little, but not enough. The 89bhp feels more at home on faster roads, but suffers similar gearbox issues. We’re yet to try a manual.
The little Smart handles well enough around town. Its steering is light and the Cabrio is keen to change direction, although its tiny wheelbase means it is often too keen, and you have to reduce your steering angle mid-corner. The Fortwo's party piece, though, is a turning circle of just 6.95m, which means you can perform single action u-turns on any decently wide road, where permitted.
The Cabrio is maneuverable, yes, but the ride isn't comfortable enough. The low-speed ride is extremely busy, and because both axles hit large obstructions such as speed bumps at such a close time, a pronounced vertical bounce is sent through the cabin.
With the roof in place, the cabin remains relatively quiet with little wind or road noise. There is more noise than in the hard-top version, but after all this car does have a fabric roof. With the roof fully down there’s less buffeting at higher speeds than just in ‘sunroof’ mode. Around town, you’re well protected and have plenty of options to keep your hair unruffled.