- Easiest parking of any car
- Fresh styling, still perky
- Far more refined
- Surprising interior room
- Modern features
- Gas mileage not stellar
- No safety ratings yet
- Four-seat cars can be cheaper
The 2016 Smart ForTwo promises parking ease—and this time, maybe better fuel economy and handling.
The 2016 model year marks the first complete redesign for the Smart ForTwo since it went on sale in Europe almost two decades ago. The fully reconceived version of the iconic two-seat minicar is no longer than before—it's still just 8.8 feet—but it's close to 4 inches wider, which gives it the feel of a compact car if you don't look over your shoulder.
The new ForTwo still has a snub nose, perky styling, and a passenger compartment outlined by a contrasting color on its Tridion safety cage. The wheels are pushed out to the corners of the vehicle. But there's a more defined hood front end now, with a short hood that's less beveled than before, to provide better pedestrian protection.
Design features carried over from the previous Smart include the prominent shoulder line, frameless door windows, and a split tailgate whose upper portion opens for access while the lower half flips down to provide a temporary surface. New headlights use LED bulbs in the daytime running lights for a modern touch. The "grille" between the lights is essentially a matte-finish blanking panel perforated with holes.
The interior is still fairly simple, but it's disguised by different trim colors and a variety of rounded shapes. Two eyeball vents sit on top of the dash, and a small instrument cluster behind the wheel contains the usual gauges. A touchscreen display sits slightly proud of the central console, and overall, the interior has a far more substantial feel.
The basic plan of the new 2016 Smart remains the same: It is still powered by a three-cylinder engine mounted on its side between the rear wheels, under the load bay. (For 2016, the Smart Electric Drive version, powered by a battery and electric motor, will continue to use the older design--it'll be updated next year.)
The 2016 Smart is powered by a turbocharged 0.9-liter three-cylinder engine, making 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. It's mounted between the rear wheels, with power delivered to the rear wheels. The layout is the same as before, but there's now a choice of transmissions. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed dual-clutch transmission provides automated shifting for those who prefer it. (Smart expects four out of five customers to order the automated transmission.) Combined EPA fuel economy is 35 or 36 mpg, and the company says 0-to-60-mph acceleration is 10.1 seconds for the manual, and 10.5 seconds for the DCT.
Smart is particularly proud of the turning circle, which is an astoundingly small 22.8 feet from curb to curb (or 24 feet between two walls). That makes it more maneuverable than ever, and the perfect urban warrior. But the new Smart is also far more capable on the highway than the old one was, and has a quieter and smoother ride under pretty much every circumstance. Noise is well suppressed for such a small car, and the redesigned interior and greater refinement make the new Smart a much more pleasant vehicle to drive or ride in.
The 2016 ForTwo comes standard with eight airbags, and a Crosswind Assist function that keeps the car straight during side winds is a standard feature. Forward-collision warning is available as an option. It hasn't yet been rated for crash safety by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
All new Smarts include power windows, central locking, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, power steering, and audio and other controls on the steering wheel. The audio system includes a CD player, Bluetooth streaming for playing music and hands-free commands. The instrument cluster includes a 3.5-inch color display, and a trip computer and an exterior temperature display are also standard.
Beyond the base ForTwo Pure, the Passion, Prime, and Proxy trim levels provide a mix of different features, using interior trim and fittings to give the different models distinct characters. There's also an Edition # 1 special trim package that will only be available for this model year.
A top-end JBL sound system with eight speakers and a 240-watt amplifier should provide substantial sound in the small cabin. Other infotainment options include smartphone integration and a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather data. The Smart Cross Connect app lets owners access their car and other useful functions while away from the vehicle.
Pricing starts below $16,000 including delivery, and Smart says a fully loaded model with multiple high-end options runs between $20,000 and $21,000. A Cabrio model with a roll-back cloth roof will be offered for the 2017 model year, as will a redesigned Electric Drive version.