Smart Fortwo Mhd Passion Quick Drive Review

Antony Ingram / February 03, 2013

Smart Fortwo Passion side

Smart's Fortwo has always stood out in the city car market, even after Toyota launched the similarly pocket-sized iQ in 2009.

Where some city cars fade into the background, the Fortwo's upright stance, two-seat cockpit, rear-mounted engine and 'Tridion' safety cell couldn't be anything else.

Breaking the norm to such a degree will always have its detractors. But whether in madcap BRABUS cabrio form or as an eco-conscious electric car, our previous drives of the Fortwo have revealed it to be flawed, but ultimately charming.

Until we drove the Fortwo in 71-horsepower, MHD 'Micro Hybrid Drive' spec, that is.

Smart Fortwo Passion Badge

Refreshed last year, it's still little different from the Fortwo that arrived in 2007. The badge has migrated to the front grille, the front and rear bumpers are different and the interior has seen subtle design and quality improvements, but largely it remains unchanged.

To its credit, neither exterior nor cabin have really aged. The inside is still easily big enough for its two passengers, made pleasantly airy by the glass roof on our Passion-spec test car. Even the boot is reasonably-sized for such a small car - what it loses out to the Toyota iQ on seats, it more than makes up for in luggage space.

Smart Fortwo Mhd Boot

Start to drive it though, and its talents dissipate. The Fortwo's automated manual gearbox has always been fairly bad, but without turbo-assisted performance the languid shifts seem to take twice as long. There's not enough torque to avoid changing gear as you might in the turbocharged cars, and not enough performance to make up for the length of time each gear takes to change.

Left in automatic, rather than changing yourself, it's even worse. With no acceleration to enjoy you're then left to mull over the dead steering, poor refinement and ride quality akin to bumping down a staircase on your arse.

At least indicated economy was good. Despite a healthy thrashing, the computer showed 57 mpg at the end of our drive. There's zero road tax, too.

Price as tested: £11,220
Combined MPG: 65.7
CO2: 98 g/km

Smart Fortwo Mhd Interior

Conclusion

Don't get us wrong here: The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is still the best car the company makes, and the BRABUS is fantastic fun despite its ludicrous expense. But without the tinsel of high-tech drivetrains or go-faster tinsel, the Fortwo can only be judged on its merits - and those merits are getting harder to find. The next-generation Fortwo can't come soon enough.
 
For more information, check out our full summary of the Smart Fortwo alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos!

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