There’s a pair of petrol engines providing Smart ForTwo performance, but don’t expect anything earth-shatteringly fast. This is a city car, and it’s resolutely not quick.
The lower-powered 1-litre, three-cylinder is expected to be the best-seller, with 69bhp and 91Nm at 2,850rpm meaning 0-62mph in 14.4 seconds and a top speed of 94mph.
We can see why this one is going to be a popular choice. It has a linear power delivery and is well-matched to the five-speed gearbox, meaning for the majority of city driving leaving it in second gear seems to do the job nicely, with a wide spread of revs to use accordingly.
It struggles on higher-speed roads, though, meaning the gearbox gets a workout and it’s difficult to make progress at approaching 70mph.
The performance option
If you’re after a bit more go, for example if you do some motorway driving, the higher-powered engine is the one to investigate. This is actually slightly smaller at 0.9 litres in capacity, but thanks to a turbocharger it makes 89bhp and 135Nm of torque at 2,500rpm. This version allows the ForTwo to cover 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds with a top speed of 96mph.
It isn’t as smooth as the aforementioned, but makes up for it with a decent punch from the turbocharger as the revs climb. It’s the more exciting of the two for sure, if not the best to drive. Again, it’s well-suited to the five-speed manual gearbox.
Automatic gearbox coming
Towards the middle of 2015 we’re expecting Smart to introduce the £995 DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) automatic gearbox to the range. This is a huge step forward over the previous Smart’s automatic ‘box, changing gear smoothly and making the car very easy to drive.
This is the ForTwo’s real talent. The rear-engined nature of the Smart means the front wheels get more space, which in turn means a small turning circle: it’s two feet smaller than a black cab, in fact.
What that means is you can turn the car on an axis that seems barely believable. It’s a lot of fun, and proves that it’s possible to enjoy driving even in the city at low speeds.
The steering itself is very nicely weighted for city driving. It isn’t too light or heavy, sitting pretty between the two. Smart has done a lot of work in this respect, and compared to the Twingo it shares some parts with, the extra effort shows.
It’s surprisingly communicative as well. We’re pleasantly surprised to report that the steering itself is great too. There’s a sense you’re perched atop the front wheels, and really felt like we knew what was going on beneath them.
All this combines to provide a feeling of assured confidence, and when darting in and out of city traffic you don’t feel as intimidated as you may otherwise be, since you know you’ve got the facility to duck out of challenging situations.
Body roll is fairly well contained, so there’s none of the pitch and yaw action that may otherwise make some passengers nauseous.
This car is genuinely entertaining thing to drive, especially around town.
We’ve not had the chance to get it onto higher-speed corners as yet, but suspect that’s missing the point anyway. This is a city car, and works best there.
The buzzword here is ‘funky’. There’s a decidedly modern feel to the cabin, with bold colours and fabrics employed to liven things up.
You’re greeted by a speedometer in the dash directly in front of the driver and a 3.5-inch screen for trip computer information. From there, depending on trim, you’ll get a number of gauges sprouting from the dash and four circular plastic air vents peering towards you. The stereo seems a little mis-matched with the rest of the car if you’ve got the Smart audio system and smartphone cradle only, but the Smart Media screen looks perfectly suited.
We were impressed with the ForTwo’s driving position. The pedals and hand-operated controls are placed cleverly in the cabin for ease of use, and you’ve got very good visibility too considering it’s such a small machine.
Unfortunately the seats lack a little support when cornering quickly, which seems a shame considering that’s one of the most entertaining things you can do in a ForTwo.
Considering the size of the car, Smart ForTwo comfort levels are surprisingly high. It’s 100mm wider than the previous version, so there’s more than enough room for two adults to sit side-by-side in comfort without brushing shoulders. We found six-footers had a fair bit of headroom too, even taking into account the panoramic glass sunroof assembly on higher-spec models.
We found the ride comfort vastly improved over the previous model. The entire car has been redesigned and the upshot is more suspension travel and the facility to fit larger tyres, which again helps smooth out bumps in the road surface.
Another thing we were impressed with was the refinement Smart has worked into the cabin. It’s remarkably well insulated from exterior wind or road noise, and even that distinctive engine is very quiet thanks to its location towards the rear of the car.