- Awesome parking, maneuveability
- Fresh styling, sportier stance
- Improved refinement
- MPG lackluster for its size
- Hasn't yet been crash-tested
- In American terms, not a lot of car for the money
The 2017 Smart Fortwo delivers all the parking ease it promises—plus, this year, new top-down Cabrio and Electric Drive versions.
Following closely on a full redesign this past year, the 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabrio arrives to bring a little more open-air enjoyment to the lineup.
The Fortwo Cabriolet isn’t the only model that had been carried over in the previous body style for 2016; an all-new 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is also expected to arrive later in the model year.
The 2017 Fortwo remains the shortest normal passenger car for sale in the U.S. market—and it’s the smallest model on the market by most measures. Yet last year’s full redesign was monumental, marking the first complete redesign for the Smart Fortwo since it went on sale in Europe back in the 1990s.
This iconic two-seat minicar might have been fully reconceived, and four inches wider than before—which makes a huge difference from inside—but it’s still just 8.8 feet long.
Overall, the 2017 Smart Fortwo doesn’t stray from the formula of the original Fortwo. The profile is only somewhat evolved, and you’ll find the same snub nose, perky styling, and clearly defined passenger compartment—from the side, outlined by a contrasting color. The wheels are pushed out to the corners of the vehicle. 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.
Step around to the front angles and you’ll find a front end that’s more defined than before—mostly a requirement imposed by the pedestrian-safety requirements, but it works with the rest of the profile. 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 a bit more visually interesting than in the previous models, but still fairly simple. 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 basics haven’t changed much: The Fortwo family (except for the upcoming Electric Drive) is powered by a 0.9-liter three-cylinder engine mounted on its side between the rear wheels, under the load bay, with power delivered through the rear wheels. It’s turbocharged, though, making 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed dual-clutch transmission provides automated shifting for those who prefer it. Combined EPA fuel economy is 35 or 36 mpg for the Coupe, and the company says 0-to-60-mph acceleration is 10.1 seconds for the manual, and 10.5 seconds for the DCT. Fortwo Cabrio models add some extra weight and thus are more than a second (11.6 sec.) slower to 60.
Cabriolet models (the term essentially means convertible) stand apart from Fortwo Coupe models in that they offer a special “Tritop” roof that can be configured three ways: fully open, fully closed, and partially open, as you would with a large subroof. The power roof takes just 12 seconds to retract, and it can be operated with the keyfob, although it requires that side bars be removed by hand. Altogether, the process of doing the top, removing the bars, and stowing them in a special carved-out area of the tailgate can be done in well under a minute.
Maneuverability and parking ease is of course a major selling point for the Fortwo, and 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. Handling is remarkably well sorted, and while this model still doesn't have a lot of grip, it's confidence-inspiring and no longer feels overly light in front during highway lane changes.
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).
Standard equipment on the base Fortwo Pure model 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.
The 2017 Fortwo Cabrio will be offered in all but the base Pure trim. Beyond that, 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.
Infotainment options in the Fortwo lineup include smartphone integration and a navigation system with real-time traffic and weather data. The Smart Cross Connect app allows owners to access their car and other useful functions while away from the vehicle. A top-end JBL sound system with eight speakers and a 240-watt amplifier should provide substantial sound for the small cabin.
Pricing for the Fortwo Cabriolet hasn’t yet been released, but expect it to join the lineup in summer 2017. Pricing for the rest of the lineup starts below $16,000 including delivery, and we expect Fortwo Cabrio models to start below $21,000.