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PERFORMANCE | 5 out of 10
a dog off the dime and characterized by the most laughingly goofy gaps between shifts
Car and Driver
Doesn't turn in with the same spontaneity as a Mini Cooper
one of the slowest new vehicles on the road
Kelley Blue Book
susceptible to crosswind wander
All 2010 Smart ForTwo models are propelled by a 70-horsepower, 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine supplied by Mitsubishi, driving through a five-speed automated manual transmission. Edmunds notes the gearbox is "shifted without a clutch pedal, via a simple console-mounted stick (and column-mounted paddles on Passion models)." But in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com's editors, this transmission is universally derided. Kelley Blue Book says "the automated manual transmission" shifts "with all the grace of a backhoe," while Car and Driver remarks that the "five-speed" transmission is "a dog off the dime and characterized by the most laughingly goofy gaps between shifts" in full automatic mode. Moving to the "shift-yourself manumatic approach," Car and Driver finds that "the ForTwo can be driven more quickly, but it takes a lot of concentration."
Below 40 miles per hour, the peppy engine, low gearing, and quick steering make the 1,800-pound 2010 Smart easy to toss around town. Kelley Blue Book reviewers have the most fun "in parking lots, where the car's micro measurements and sub-30-foot turning circle combine to deliver an almost comical sense of agility." While the transmission doesn't shift particularly smoothly, the ForTwo is an amusing car to drive on tight city streets-never more so than when it's time to find a parking space. But the same features that make it so much spirited in the city-the short wheelbase, negligible length, and quick steering-work against it on the highway. While Cars.com contends "maintaining 65 mph is within the realm of long-haul plausibility," they also note that "climbing an incline at that speed-or accelerating to anything higher-is dicey."
Its 0-to-60-mph time of more than 13 seconds puts the 2010 Smart ForTwo on a par with economy cars of two decades ago. Edmunds observes that a "1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 71 hp and 68 pound-feet of torque" is barely powerful enough to give the Smart ForTwo "a 0-60-mph time of 14.1 seconds." ConsumerGuide says that overall "acceleration is sluggish from a stop, and is plagued by annoying bogging and surging at every shift." Furthermore, the Smart ForTwo's "90-mph top speed" and poor acceleration, warns Kelley Blue Book, "qualify it as one of the slowest new vehicles on the road." Sandwiched between semis at 70 mph, the Smart ForTwo requires a brave heart and confidence in its crash-test results. Edmunds asserts the Smart ForTwo's high-speed stability is "pretty good, although strong crosswinds can wreak havoc on its boxy shape." U.S. News confirms this, remarking the ForTwo is "susceptible to crosswind wander-meaning the wind can literally push this car off course." Edmunds also notes that "handling largely depends on how one equips the Smart ForTwo," commenting that the base Pure model "with manual steering and narrow 15-inch front tires feels ponderous," while "upgrading to power steering and wider tires provides a more adept driving experience, and actually makes zipping through city streets fun." Once on the highway, Kelley Blue Book reviewers discover that "the faster you go," the "more skittish the ForTwo becomes." ConsumerGuide states that the 2010 Smart ForTwo is "stiff and choppy over all but glass-smooth roads, with sharp bumps and expansion cracks causing abrupt vertical motions."
The brakes rate highly on the 2010 Smart ForTwo. When it comes time to stop, Car and Driver reports that the "excellent-feeling brakes" bring the hatchback to a full stop "from 70 mph in 167 feet," with "the ragtop nine feet later."
Small size and fuel efficiency have to be very high on a driver's list for the 2010 Smart ForTwo to be worth the sacrifices in mixed use. And its EPA ratings of 33 mpg city, 41 mpg highway just aren't that impressive. Consider that larger and more capacious hybrids, including the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, do better without the sacrifices, though admittedly they're pricier. Cars.com finds that the fuel economy "figures beat the most frugal subcompacts," though "premium fuel is recommended" for the 2010 Smart ForTwo.
The 2010 Smart ForTwo gives good gas mileage-though premium fuel is recommended-but it's slow, bouncy, and skittish at highway speeds.