2011 smart fortwo Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 18, 2010

The 2011 Smart Fortwo is at its best on congested urban streets; at highway speeds its less-secure feel becomes a liability in several ways.

With its diminutive size and Fisher-Price-like details inside and out, the 2011 Smart Fortwo two-seater might seem a little more like a toy at times. Don't let that put you off too much; it's a real car—competent in the city and fun to drive in urban traffic. However after seriously considering the Fortwo's many tradeoffs, many shoppers would be better served by a more conventional small car or hybrid.

The 2011 Fortwo can, at low speeds, feel quite perky and nimble. But out in the suburbs, especially when traffic thins out, the Fortwo's drawbacks—a busy, hard ride, noisy interior, lack of power, and iffy roadholding—become serious issues. Consider that real-world fuel economy also isn't much better than that of other four- or five-passenger small car models, and the 'wow' factor yields to reality.

What's still genuinely worthy of oohs and ahs is the Fortwo's interior space. Though it's just a two-seater, it can easily accommodate those over six feet tall, with more than enough headroom for all. What's a little more disappointing is the Fortwo's lack of cargo space. There really isn't much space behind the seats except for a modest row of grocery bags. The instrument panel also feels like a flashback to the econoboxes of the 1990s.

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Decent—though by no means great—crash-test ratings are somewhat redemptive, as well as standard anti-lock brakes and stability control, plus side airbags and a so-called Tridion safety cell that gives the protection of a larger car. But at a time when convenience, connectivity, and tech features is what matters most of all to some shoppers, the Fortwo is remarkably barren. The base Pure model doesn't even come with a sound system, though high-end Passion and sporty Brabus models add more extras—albeit at a significantly higher price tag.


High Gear Media hasn't yet driven the revised 2011 Smart Fortwo; this review combines impressions from former model years of this mostly carry-over model, along with information on what's changed from interior and feature standpoints.

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