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2011 Smart Fortwo: Driven

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"Wow. Can't believe you fit into that thing."

That's the first thing we heard over and over again during a recent week with the 2011 Smart Fortwo. And the well-designed cabin deserves lots of recognition; at a long-legged 6'-6," this driver had absolutely no problem fitting into the surprisingly accommodating interior.

The Fortwo is a two-seater, but it simply can't be compared to the interior of any small two-seat sports car or roadster we've ever been in. You sit high, and the seats invite (and are at their most comfortable in) a sort of perched-forward driving position, but with none of the typical knees-splayed, somewhat fetal position we've seen in some other foreign-market minis. Look ahead and you don't see any hood, really no cowl either, and the front of the car is literally right on the other side of your toes.

But just as we were about to take the compliment and move on, then would come the follow-up: "But you must get 60 or 70 miles per gallon with that, right?"

Well, no... It gets about 35 or 40 miles per gallon, we'd say. And repeatedly we'd see the expression change. Shoulders would shrug, and you could see interest fade. Several again wondered why it couldn't do better, and a couple asked why it wasn't electric. As for the electric version, they're getting to that; it's just not publicly available yet.

The buildup...and the letdown

This was the drill for the time we had the Fortwo, and we have a theory. In Europe, and in a few (just a few, really) select tight urban spaces in the U.S., the Fortwo pays dividends in space efficiency. For a vehicle that takes up less parking space than two motorcycles, you can have a reasonably safe and weatherproof transportation module for two, with the space for a typical load of groceries to boot.

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Comments (4)
  1. Here in Canada we had the 2005 & 2006 Mark I Diesel version that got over 60 MPG & it sold like hotcakes. It was not as good a drive as the 2011.We now only get the gas version you Yanks & sales are dead in the water like yours.If the Diesel Came back I am sure it would be popular but it did not meet U.S.Emissions.

  2. This car is trash - just get a 10X better/larger/safer/cheaper to operate/etc. Corolla that gets the same mileage for less.

  3. Thanks Bengt buddy . So many reviewers focus on one negative aspect, and disregard the smart. To me, the advantage is for older people as it is THE EASIEST to enter and exit - a monster door ... yet a stellar crash protection record. Cruise control is a welcome option, and power steering optional, but you found not needed. You learn to help the highly fuel efficient auto-manual transmission shift, and it LEARNS your style. Your experience was too short. Also, it does have a trip odo. I get 40+ mpg in town, but not on Interstates. We got 12 smarts in 4 normal nose in parking spots. A great car for older folks, now living alone, especially in crowded places like NYC/SF/Philly/Boston, or as a second car.
    Cheers, Bob

  4. I personally feel the general public will fall out of love with electrics, and NO ONE seems to admit they lose their advantages in very hot or especially cold weather. Range goes to a small fraction when batteries get cold, and a/c and heaters are energy hogs. Smart will be no different.
    Can't understand why the Euro turbo diesel is not brought in, as it gets 60+ mpg with no fuss or smell.
    Cheers, Bob

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