What's the used Smart Fortwo Coupe city-car like?
Britain’s roads are becoming more and more congested, but our cars have been getting bigger. The answer, according to Smart, is that we all ought to drive smaller ones. Now in its third generation, the Smart Fortwo is one of the few cars that can claim to be truly small. At less than 2.7 metres in length, it should be ideal for urban commuters. But, does the whole package make sense as a good used buy?
As previously stated, the Smart Fortwo has few peers that directly compete with it. But since it is billed as a stylish, premium city car, the Fortwo is up against the cute retro looks of the Fiat 500 and the intelligent design of the Volkswagen Up.
The Fortwo can be had with either petrol or electric powertrains. The base 1.0-litre 71bhp engine is fine for keeping up with traffic in town. If you want a bit more performance, there’s the turbocharged 0.9-litre with 89bhp or if you must have the fastest version, then you can have a Brabus badged version with 109bhp. There’s even an electric version for the environmentally conscious.
To drive, the Fortwo is easy to thread through tight city streets with light steering that’s very quick and has been designed to allow for incredibly tight turning circles. Unfortunately, the ride simply isn’t smooth enough when compared with its rivals, and it’s only made worse by the sports suspension offered on some models. The body tends to lean over quite a bit in bends and the fast acting steering, combined with the small wheelbase tends to make the car feel nervous upon turn in and when you try to maintain a steady course on the motorway. Okay, this isn’t a car primarily designed for long distance driving, but there are so many other competitors around for similar money that cope well in both environments, so it’s a shame the Fortwo doesn’t handle better.
Weirdly, the all-electric version of the Fortwo is the best Fortwo to drive. Thanks to having a heavy battery pack mounted under the seats its centre of gravity is lower than the petrol versions, and therefore it doesn’t roll as much in the corners. What’s more, while it may only have 80bhp, its instant torque helps it feel much faster than the 11.5sec 0-62mph time would have you believe. Sadly, it is rare on the used market and, therefore, costs a lot more than the standard car.
The interior features plenty of light, bright coloured materials to make it look a bit more cheerful inside. In general, it’s well screwed together, although some of the Renault derived switches and stalks feel a bit cheap. Mid-range Passion is well equipped with climate control and 15in alloy wheels on top of the cruise control, Bluetooth and USB socket that are standard on all Fortwos.